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Service desk automation: ideas for streamlining your workflow

According to Klaus’s Customer Service Quality Benchmark Report 2023, 70% of organizations are planning to invest more in support automation in the next 12 months¹. This trend highlights the growing need for efficient processes that can keep up with the ever-changing demands of modern customers.

In this article, we'll take a look at the definition of service desk automation and explore its myriad benefits, including reduced costs and greater scalability. We'll also discuss the kinds of impacts automation has on a service desk, and provide a step-by-step guide to implementing this solution in your organization.

What is service desk automation?

A service desk is a department within an organization that serves as a primary point of contact between users and service providers. It typically handles incoming requests and provides assistance to people, whether they are internal employees or external customers. Its primary goal is to ensure timely and effective resolution of problems.

Service desk automation refers to the implementation of automated processes to streamline workflows and enhance efficiency. Typically facilitated by specialized software, these automated processes can include the management of service requests, the resolution of common issues, and the execution of repetitive tasks.

Service desk automation leverages technology to expedite responses, reduce manual intervention, and optimize resource utilization, ultimately leading to improved user experiences and operational effectiveness.

If you want to learn how a multiple-level support structure works, read this article: What is tiered support?

Service desk automation ideas

The automation of the service desk can be advantageous to several processes within your company. Here are five promising ideas you can implement with automation:

1. Utilizing chatbots for common queries

When looking for service desk automation ideas, one sensible place to start is with chatbots. These conversational tools are capable of receiving a high volume of queries and providing immediate assistance to all customers – whether by offering them a proper answer right away, directing them to self-service resources, or diverting the ticket to a customer representative.

Automating this front line of support makes chatbots an ally in business efficiency and frees customer reps from the burden of answering repetitive questions for hours on end. In fact, our report State of AI in Customer Service revealed that 67% of support leaders believe they are already seeing value from their automation efforts².

Are you eager to implement a chatbot as part of your service desk automation strategy, but don’t know where to start? Read our AI bot buyer’s guide: how to find the right AI chatbot for your support needs.

2. Automated ticket categorization and assignment

Establishing priorities is one of the pillars of a successful support team. By defining which issues should be resolved first and which representatives are best suited to carry out those resolutions,  you achieve higher levels of customer satisfaction and make the most of your employees' skills.

But what criteria should you use to classify and distribute tickets? A service desk automation platform can proactively determine which queries are most critical based on pre-established parameters, and then assign those queries to reps with the appropriate level of expertise.

3. Routing conversations

One of the greatest assets provided by service desk automation is routing conversations. With this automation in place, your support team can be more efficient and effective in handling customer inquiries and issues. This not only improves your team's productivity, but also enhances the overall customer experience.

Consider, for instance, a bustling customer service department of an electronics company. At any moment, there are multiple customers reaching out for assistance. While Customer A is frustrated about a product malfunction, Customer B has a question regarding their billing.

Thanks to a service desk automation system, Person A can be routed to reps specializing in troubleshooting and technical problem-solving, while Person B can get in touch with a knowledgeable representative about financial transactions and billing processes.

By leveraging these automated filters, businesses can ensure that each customer is swiftly connected to the ideal support representative, streamlining the support process and enhancing overall customer satisfaction.

4. Automated notifications and alerts

Automated notifications and alerts are a valuable feature of service desk automation platforms. By letting customers know when their tickets are updated or assigned, they can stay informed about the status of their requests (and, if necessary, take action).

This feature not only improves communication between users and support staff but also helps to ensure that no request falls through the cracks.

Do you want to proactively help your customers and protect your support team’s inbox at the same time? Explore our Article Inserter and deliver contextual outbound messages.

Benefits of service desk automation

Increased efficiency

A service desk automation platform can greatly increase efficiency within an organization. In addition to handling routine inquiries, it can prioritize and assign tasks to the right tier, thus reducing  response times and guaranteeing that customer problems are solved promptly. 

Companies that don’t rely on service desk automation run the risk of overwhelming their support reps with a high volume of low-complexity questions and frustrating customers with long wait times:

Smoother customer service

With service desk automation, the customer service experience becomes a much smoother process. This tool ensures that customers are directed to the correct support tier. Likewise, automated responses can also be configured to provide customers with status updates and resolution times. This can help to manage customer expectations and improve overall satisfaction.

Greater scalability

As organizations grow, their service desk needs can become more complex. With an automation platform, companies can easily scale their operations to meet changing demands, without requiring additional resources. This helps ensure service level agreements (SLAs) are met.

Enhanced data insights

By collecting and analyzing data on ticket volumes, response times, and resolution rates, businesses can identify areas for improvement and optimize their processes. This can help to drive continuous refinements and ensure that the service desk is meeting the needs of the organization and its customers.

What impact does automation have on a service desk?

1. Consistency in support processes

Automated workflows can be designed to follow a standardized set of steps for each type of request, reducing the likelihood of errors or oversights. This consistency can lead to increased customer satisfaction and greater productivity for support teams.

2. Reduced workload for support reps

Our previously mentioned report, The State of AI in Customer Service, found that 28% of support leaders are already benefiting from fewer manual tasks – including summarizing conversations – thanks to automation and AI resources.

This transformative shift not only means a substantial leap forward in efficiency but also holds the promise of lightening the workload on support reps. Take the experience of Geronimo Chala, Chief Consumer Officer at Rebag:

3. Faster response times for customers

Another noteworthy finding from our report The State of AI in Customer Service is that 44% of support leaders are able to provide 24/7 assistance to their customers with the help of automation and AI resources.

By helping businesses meet their customers' needs at any time of the day or night, across different time zones and geographical locations, these tools are offering them a valuable competitive edge in their respective marketplace. 

How to automate a service desk?

Automating a service desk can significantly improve your team's productivity. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you streamline your operations.

1. Identify repetitive tasks

The first step to automating your service desk is to identify the tasks that are repetitive and thus excellent candidates for automation.  For example, if your support reps spend a lot of time responding to the same types of inquiries, such as password resets or product returns, these tasks would probably be a good fit  for automation.

2. Define workflows

Once you have identified the repetitive tasks, the next step is to define the workflows for each of them. This means mapping out the steps involved in completing the activity, from the initial request to the final resolution.

For instance, when a customer seeks a password reset, the process may include authenticating the customer's identity, resetting the password, and informing them of the updated login credentials.

3. Choose an automation software

There is a wide variety of automation software options out there, so it's essential to find one that suits your specific needs and preferences. Whatever provider you choose, make sure the platform is capable of creating automated workflows that can be triggered by specific events, such as a customer submitting a support ticket or a new user signing up for your product.

However, the ideal solution is to opt for service desk software that already incorporates automation features, such as Intercom. This way, your team can concentrate all their work in a single tool and provide an excellent customer experience.

4. Integrate your tech stack

To make the most of your service desk automation software, you'll need to integrate it with your existing tech stack. This means connecting your support ticketing system to other tools, such as CRM, to ensure that data can flow seamlessly between them.

For example, if a customer submits an inquiry, the automation of the service desk should be able to access their information from your CRM and use it to personalize the response.

5. Train your support representatives

Even with automation, your support reps will still play an important role in providing excellent customer service. It's important to train them on how to use the service desk software and how to handle customer inquiries that fall outside the scope of the automated workflows.

To truly maximize the benefits of automation, it’s crucial to ensure that your support reps are equipped with a deep understanding of the automation possibilities that your software offers. By empowering them with this knowledge, they can actively seek out new automation opportunities as they navigate the ever-evolving landscape of customer service.

With their expertise, your team can leverage the power of automation to streamline workflows, increase efficiency, and ultimately provide an even higher level of service to your valued customers.

Are you curious about what working side by side with advanced technology looks like? Read this article: Bots 🤖 and brains 🧠: The winning combination for customer service 🤩.

6. Regularly update and improve your processes

Finally, it's important to regularly review and update your processes to guarantee that they are still meeting the needs of your customers. This may involve optimizing your workflows, upgrading some automation components, or integrating new tools into your tech stack. By staying agile and responsive, you can continue to improve your service desk and provide the best possible support to your customers. 

Automate conversations with the power of AI

If you want to resolve issues instantly, increase team efficiency, and make customers happier, Intercom is the way to go. Our comprehensive platform helps you to:

  • Connect your inbox, tickets, and help center into one central workspace.

  • Summarize conversations, expand replies, rephrase answers, or change tone with AI assist.

  • Convert a conversation to a ticket, send forms, and automatically share real-time updates with your customers via the messenger and email.

  • Real-time dashboards and monitoring views make it easy to take action and optimize your team’s performance.

And more! Get all your automation, conversations, tickets, customer data, and reporting working together seamlessly. Get Intercom.


¹ Klaus’s Customer Service Quality Benchmark for 2023 surveyed 4,050 people from a range of industries, including but not limited to consumer services, business, accounting, HR, financial services, and education.

² Intercom commissioned an independent market research firm to survey a random sample of 1,013 global support leaders and practitioners. The margin of error for this study is +/- 3.7% at the 95% confidence level.