Alex Yupanqui

Chief Customer Success Officer, Espressive on behalf of anonymous company

Supernova Award Category: 

AI and Augmented Humanity

The Organization: 

The Company is a leading provider of energy solutions with customers in over 100 countries around the world.

The Problem: 

In March of 2020, work from home mandates were issued globally in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. IT service desks were hit hard. With a large portion of the Company’s employees now working from home, the Company recorded 6,200 IT help desk calls during the month of March, experiencing a 292% increase in call volume compared to February. The questions coming to the help desk had changed as well: prior to March, the number one topic for employee questions was password reset. After the work from home mandates, the help desk was instead bombarded with topics regarding VPN, 2-factor authentication, software access, and coronavirus. 

The Company also saw that the average abandonment rate on calls nearly doubled, from 14 to 25.71%. This meant employees seeking help were having to wait on hold for extremely long periods of time and were ultimately giving up. To make things more challenging, the number of agents on the help desk was only 60% compared to the prior year due to turnover and recruitment challenges. 

The Company’s IT team needed a way to quickly answer new employee questions, relevant to what they were experiencing now, otherwise, they would continue to be monopolized answering the same questions, tying up their phone lines. They risked employee productivity and their ability to deliver to their customers. In normal times, that’s a big issue. During a pandemic, the issue becomes staggering.

The Solution: 

The Company had deployed Espressive Barista, an AI-based virtual support agent, back in 2018, making intelligent automation a part of its IT help desk business continuity plan before COVID-19 ever struck. Barista is a single solution that brings the ease of consumer virtual assistants, such as Amazon Alexa, into the workplace, automating the resolution of employee questions with AI. Recognizing that the questions employees were now asking had shifted to new topics following the work from home mandates, the Company leveraged the Barista FAQ Management Tool to quickly curate new content, so Barista could continue to efficiently answer employee questions and concerns. With the new content in place, the Company then added an automated “cloud message” for employees to hear whenever they called the IT help desk, instructing them to go to the Barista app on their desktops or mobile devices in order to receive immediate support.

The Results: 

Instead of workforce productivity taking a sharp decline as call volume went up at the start of COVID-related work from home mandates, the Company was able to quickly adapt. Barista ended up handling 99 agent days worth of work, deflecting 63% of the calls to the Company’s IT help desk in March. While the dollar savings of automating 99 agent days is significant and easy to calculate, the real value to the organization was in workforce productivity. If employees stayed on hold or gave up trying to get help because the help desk wasn’t available, that would have cost the Company significantly more in lost workforce productivity. Barista continues to deflect a very high rate of tickets for the Company, with about 3,700 deflections by the end of April. This is in part because employees are working from home, but also because employees have learned they can rely on Barista. Barista provides an easier route for resolution than calling the IT help desk, fundamentally changing the way the Company’s employees get help even after the initial chaos of the work from home mandates has settled. It also would have been impossible for the Company’s IT help desk team to scale to meet the overnight demand without Barista and the ability to add new content quickly. As the work environment continues to change, moving towards a work from home and work form office hybrid, the Company will continue to use Barista to adapt to the changing needs of their employees.


After deploying Barista and the FAQ Management Tool:

  • 63% of calls in March were deflected by Barista
  • 99 agent days of work were handled via Barista
  • Enabling fast content additions
  • Strong workforce productivity
The Technology: 

Barista is an AI-based virtual support agent. The Barista Employee Language Cloud recognizes over 750M phrases day one and is built on a unique crowd-sourced architecture, enabling Barista to learn through employee interactions across the entire customer base. Barista’s natural language processing (NLP) engine is built on an image-recognition technology that gives Barista the ability to understand what employees are saying in their natural language, resulting in extremely high accuracy.

Disruptive Factor: 

While enterprises have business continuity plans, most can’t withstand the impact of a global pandemic. IT service desks haven’t cracked the code on employee self-help. They’re not automated; they rely on humans. According to Gartner, 92% of the cost of an IT service desk is agents–inhouse and outsourced. Barista made it possible to keep the Company’s business running despite the high demand for employee help. These abilities set Espressive apart: 

1. The Employee Language Cloud enables fast time to value with 750M phrases understood on day 1 of implementation. As employees ask new questions, the unique crowd-based architecture enables Barista to learn, benefiting all customers. Barista understood phrases about the WFH mandate almost immediately. 

2. The FAQ Management Tool democratizes content, making it easy for any SME to update content based on employee time zone, role, location, and more. That is critical with a crisis where policies change daily.

3. The advanced NLP engine has the highest accuracy rate in the industry—key to employee adoption. Employees ask questions in many ways, and in this case, the Company’s employees were able to ask “what do I do about COVID”, “what does the pandemic mean to me”, and “how can I WFH if I don’t have a laptop”. Barista understood the true meaning behind these phrases, and provided the Company’s employees with accurate responses.

Shining Moment: 

As explained by the Company’s head of IT Client Support Services, Barista is core to their business and IT service continuity planning. His comment regarding this partnership was, “We also called up our friends at Espressive and they responded by working side by side with my team. I’m sure all tools work at some level in the end, but I appreciate the partnership that we’ve had together on this journey with AI.”

About Espressive on behalf of anonymous company

Espressive, the pioneer in AI for ESM redefines how employees get help by delivering exceptional employee experiences. Barista, the company’s VSA, brings the ease of consumer virtual assistants, like Amazon Alexa into the workplace. Barista automates resolution of employee requests with personalized experiences, resulting in adoption of 80-85% and reduced help desk call volume of 40-60%.