Service Desk, Help Desk, Call Center: The Potential of AI Innovations Whitepaper

Service Desk, Help Desk, Call CentreWhile organizations have been trying for years – perhaps decades – to continually drive down the cost of the Help Desk, most have concluded that a step change is required to further drive out cost. (Closed Loop Lifecycle Planning© defines a step change as "the significant improvement usually through automation and innovation that reduces the cost to deliver at least 20%.") Artificial Intelligence (AI) could represent just such a step change for the Help Desk.

In July 2023, HP with Intel & Microsoft issued a new Point of View White Paper entitled "Service Desk, Help Desk, Call Center. " In it, authors Bruce Michelson and Jeff Malec first differentiate between these different support services, review how help desks are staffed and their costs measured, and then examine the positive outcomes and unintended consequences of leveraging AI.

You are strongly encouraged to read the full white paper and share it with your customers. In the meantime, here’s a summary


At present, many organizations outsource help desk support for Level 1 calls – the repetitious inbound inquiries that live agents fully resolve 70% to 80% of the time using knowledge bases and scripts ("wash-rinse-repeat").

A well-trained AI application can be a game-changer by resolving the majority of these Level 1 ‘commodity’ calls. As a result, former Level 1 agents who are suitably trained can be redeployed to handle the 20% to 30% of calls (Level 2) that require escalation. In such a scenario, Human Resources needs to be actively involved, anticipating and planning workforce shifts (e.g., agent role re-design, training) in order to avoid unintended consequences.

AI can improve KPI results from both a service-level and cost perspective. For example, while Call Volume is unlikely to change, Rings Before Pick Up and Wait Time become zero. First Call Resolution Rate is likely to exceed or at least match current rates, while Call Duration, Cost per transaction and Abandon Rate are all likely to decline.

While there are start-up costs to design and build AI tools, its adoption will have a very favorable ROI for organizations in the help desk lifecycle element over time.

Leveraging the technology such that AI – and not a live agent – becomes the first point of contact for an end-user is a change that should not be taken lightly, since the human connection is lost.

Demographics are important: For Millennials and GenZ who have grown up with technology, AI tools and automated processes will be familiar – and in many cases, preferred. With GenX, Traditionalists and Baby Boomers however, the reaction to an AI-powered help desk may be less favorable.

Naturally, the allocation and prioritization of funding will also play a role in determining how aggressively an organization embraces the rapidly evolving capabilities of AI to transform the help desk.