Professional Service Automation (PSA) platforms typically include a knowledge base where clients can find answers to basic questions without contacting the help desk. Ironically, the ‘automation’ element is a misnomer (most PSA solutions include little to no automation), and the knowledge base component is usually static in nature. So not much automation going on here…

There’s a much better way to handle both.

A question tree (a.k.a. decision tree) approach to PSA optimizes the knowledge base by automating the answers according to pre-configured rules – which evolve over time. This can serve MSP techs and end-users alike, creating a more interactive system for both.

At its simplest level, chatbots use question tree automation to answer common questions from end-user customers. For example, a site visitor might want to know if the solution provider’s product integrates with a certain piece of software, so they ask the chatbot (pop-up chat window). While this information might be available within a self-help knowledge base article, it’s much easier to ask the chatbot.

Here’s HubSpot’s definition of a decision tree:

“A decision tree is a flowchart-style diagram to help you analyze various courses of action you might take for any given obstacle and the consequences for each. There are three parts to a decision tree: the root node, leaf nodes, and branches. This method can help you weigh risk versus reward, and map out a course of action to follow.”

Question Tree vs. Knowledge Base

MSPs are the outsourced IT departments for modern businesses; their main function is to support their clients IT infrastructure 24/7, or on an as-needed basis. Clients partner with MSPs to gain the knowledge, expertise, and tools to streamline, optimize, and secure their IT systems, in order to deliver quality service to their clients.

That’s why it’s important for MSPs to optimize their knowledge base with a question tree structure. Having a PSA platform with a knowledge base isn’t enough anymore; its lack of interactive functionality fails to solve many of the questions clients have.

A question tree, on the other hand, is interactive, and it can automate an MSP’s help desk and resolve common questions without involving staff. The question tree based PSA platform is an interactive self-help tool, while the knowledge base PSA platform is a static self-help tool.

Question Trees Leverage Automation to Solve IT Issues 

Saving labour costs is important to MSPs as it’s typically the largest expense.
Scaling services to meet the needs of modern enterprises means MSPs are often stretched thin when it comes to skilled IT technicians. Question tree based PSA platforms help alleviate the need for technicians to intervene with every question clients may have.

Reducing the number of tickets without reducing the quality of service is what MSPs want from their PSA platform. Question trees can help achieve this goal.

Automating help desk features for clients not only save money, it also improves customer service, too. When clients are able to resolve IT issues themselves with an interactive question tree, they save time and they feel more empowered. After all, submitting a ticket or calling the MSP’s help desk is often the last resort for clients.

Take for instance the results from a recent Zendesk study:

  • 75% of survey respondents said self-service is a convenient way to address customer service issues.
  • 67% of respondents said they preferred self-service over speaking to a company representative.
  • 91% of survey respondents said they would use an online knowledge base if it were available and tailored to their needs.

Gartner predicts that by 2020 a customer will manage 85% of the relationship with an enterprise without interacting with a human.
This percentage may be lower for MSPs, considering their service relationship needs with clients, yet it still indicates the desire for customers/clients to help themselves with service issues. In other words, the type of issues MSP clients have is more technical and complex in nature than regular consumers buying a product or using a service in other industries. Yet, even with the complexity of IT, MSPs will benefit more than most by resolving them through automation.

Here are some reasons why this is true:

  • Most clients aren’t proficient with the complexities of IT systems
  • IT issues can bottleneck workflows and stifle productivity
  • Staff limitations for MSPs
  • SMEs often don’t have IT teams that can understand and resolve common issues
  • Modern enterprises are constantly integrating and upgrading systems
  • IT issues can happen at any time day or night
  • Many common IT issues can be resolved with simple instructions or explanations

The Bottom Line

Question tree based PSA platforms provide more than self-service; they provide intelligent tools that help resolve common IT issues according to past client behaviour and rules-based criterion set by internal users. Both internal teams and clients will benefit by having this type of interactive, intelligent tool to resolve and standardize common issues.

Modern MSPs can reduce help desk ticket volumes without diminishing the quality of their service by adopting question tree based PSA solutions. Enhancing the knowledge base with an interactive question tree tool will expand a client’s ability to help themselves while reducing redundancy with common IT issues.

To learn how ServiceTree has taken PSA and redefined it with powerful question trees and real end-to-end automation, click here.

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