How Solar Turbines Kept Their Workforce Productive During the Pandemic


Solar Turbines is a wholly owned subsidiary of Caterpillar. John Powers heads their Client Support Services organization, including everything from remote site services to IT service management and the Solar service desk. John is a leader in incorporating intelligent automation into IT service management and was an early adopter of AI-based employee self-help.


The recent pandemic and resulting work from home mandates sent IT service desk call volume soaring. Long hold times threatened employee productivity as most employees transitioned to work from home. With a dramatic shift in topics being asked and only 60% of the service desk staff versus the prior year, they needed to respond quickly.


Espressive Barista, our AI-based virtual support agent, was launched at Solar in 2018. The IT service desk team quickly identified the new questions being asked and curated content using the Barista FAQ Manager. They also added a phone message telling callers to go to Barista for immediate help, so abandonment rates declined as employees got the answers they needed.


Unlike enterprises that were negatively impacted by the work from home mandate, John’s foresight to make Barista part of his business continuity plan enabled his service desk team to keep their workforce productive through the pandemic despite the 292% increase in call volume. Barista scaled to do 99 agent days of work and deflected 63% of tickets in March, enabling the team to focus on critical issues rather than repetitive phone calls.

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