6 min read

RB’s tech experts are using ‘bots’ to make IT support more personal

It may sound counter-intuitive, but RB’s tech experts are using ‘bots’ to make IT support more personal. Bots can fix problems faster and improve user satisfaction, giving their human colleagues the freedom to handle more important jobs. Hear from Santosh Gupta, IT Director - NextGen IT Ops at RB, on how this is helping the company deliver on its purpose to protect, heal and nurture.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and technology automation are being applied to some of the world’s biggest challenges, from supporting Covid-19 research and treatment to locating alien planets. But AI isn’t just for the kind of problems that will be taught in history classes one day. Automating straightforward workplace tasks can also have a transformative impact.

One area where automation is making a big difference is in IT support. Modern workers rely on all kinds of technology to collaborate, communicate and complete tasks efficiently. The average company, for example, deploys 129 applications but a typical worker uses just nine of these. Giving everyone the #FreedomToSucceed at work means providing them with the right applications and keeping them secure.

For RB – an organisation with more than 40,000 staff in 190 countries across six continents, driven by its purpose to protect, heal and nurture in a relentless pursuit of a cleaner, healthier world – that challenge has to be managed at scale and in multiple languages. So the company turned to automation to help.

At RB we are changing the way IT Operations run and managed, towards the NextGen IT Operations, powered with digitised processes, smarter toolset and or course with our vibrant talent pool. I have collected some great points from my recent conversation to build the NextGen IT Ops that are worth sharing:

Top bot benefits

Using ‘bots’ to tackle tasks previously managed by humans means talented staff are freed up to focus on growth and technology innovations that advance the company and their career. It may sound counter-

intuitive, but automation also means staff receive more personalised support.

For instance, bots can be programmed to prioritise user help requests based on who raised them and what their job is. Knowing this can help prioritise a request because the system will understand, for example, that this person is working on a project with a looming deadline and if they’re stuck with an IT issue then it won’t be completed on time. Likewise, knowing that a person raises a lot of requests could point to an underlying problem that needs fixing or suggest they need further training. Ultimately, understanding more about who’s raised a request makes it easier to meet expectations. Some people expect a personal response as soon as they log a problem, others are happier to try some recommended fixes on their own.

An army of helpful bots

Over the past year, RB has deployed over 40 bots, with more to come. Software provisioning, for example, is now handled entirely without human intervention, making it faster and more convenient for users and allowing the human support to be concentrated where it’s needed. Access to software and logging support requests is now fully automated. The bots are smart enough to know whether someone has completed the training necessary to use a new application, for example. Bots also understand conversational descriptions of many technical problems well enough to suggest solutions, and if those don’t help they’ll log a request.

Getting support in your language is also important but resource constraints meant that, until now, RB could only offer local-language support between 8 am and 5 pm. But working hours are shifting, particularly following Covid-19, with many people operating from home and juggling other responsibilities. RB’s bot, Iris, is the ideal solution – offering multilingual support around the clock.

Iris currently communicates in twelve languages including – English, French, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Brazilian Portuguese, Thai and Russian – and more are coming, reflecting the great diversity of RB’s staff. In the six months since Iris was launched, the bot has completed 75,000 interactions and now logs 60% of support tickets.

“My virtual workforce is handling the majority of the requests now, which frees our ‘real-life’ colleagues for more meaningful and complex tasks”

Prashant Arora Global Service Experience & Automations Head for RB

The personal touch

Automation really comes into its own for predictive and personalised services. This can be as simple as proactively offering assistance when someone is trying to install a piece of software. A more complicated use case is monitoring application and network performance and comparing it against past data to pre-emptively fix problems.

AI can also be programmed to support entire business units during critical periods for the company. During every month-end closure, RB’s finance department is given the greatest attention for support requests during this vital process. For the HR department, a technical issue with privacy implications is a major priority; in manufacturing, safety issues are a key concern, and so on. One size does not fit all in IT support, so the aim is to create an adaptive model to deliver the right support to each part of the business.

It’s all about user satisfaction

While it’s still early in the process of automating IT support end to end, the success rates are very encouraging. Since the programme began, more than 12,000 incidents have been resolved, on average, 20% faster. Overall that has saved more than 10,000 hours.

Users are happier, too. A couple of years ago, the Net Promoter Score (NPS) that measures satisfaction with IT support services hovered around the industry average of +65. It now stands at +78. That means RB’s valuable IT resource is now better focused, enabling staff to maintain focus on the company’s fight – making access to the highest quality hygiene, wellness and nutrition a right not a privilege.

“With continuous innovation and proactive processes, we are fixing problems before our colleagues are even aware of them, which delivers a better experience”

Prashant Arora Global Service Experience & Automations Head for RB

As we move towards the NextGen IT Operations, I am excited to see how the future of work going to be for all of us, and with our dedicated focus on digital service delivery, our services will only going to become simpler, smarter, and superior.

Look forward to learn what our peers are doing in this exciting space.