Customer service and digital transformation – the two terms that no company can ignore in today’s era. The whole idea of running a business revolves around the customers. And, the goal to achieve profitability is achievable with the right use of modern technology. It is inevitable to separate these two things. In fact, bringing them together can do wonders.
What is robotic process automation?
One such exceedingly sought-after technology addressed in this post is called robotic process automation or RPA. IEEE Working Group defines robotic process automation as: “A preconfigured software instance that uses business rules and predefined activity choreography to complete the autonomous execution of a combination of processes, activities, transactions, and tasks in one or more unrelated software systems to deliver a result or service with human exception management.”
In simple terms, RPA is a piece of software or logic-based bot that replicates tasks and operations as performed by a human on the system. It uses the known business reasoning and pre-defined rules to accomplish the tasks. RPA is programmed to run rules, step-by-step instructions, scripts and workflows that enable it to work faster and without human intervention. RPA is best-suited to do the tasks that-
• Include structured or semi-structured data
• High transaction volumes
• Carry low risks and exceptions
• Involve readable electronic inputs
• Repetitive in nature
• Well-defined at every stage
• Don’t require dynamic changes
Particularly speaking, RPA can be used to automate the business processes that are static in nature and take up employees’ time otherwise.
Waiting on hold: how UK consumers feel about AI and chatbots in customer service
RPA and customer service
Irrespective of the sector, organisations looking to strike a balance between costs and flawless service must implement RPA. It can be a boon for them to streamline support operations. A business can leverage the power of RPA by automating the workflows and freeing up the human agents’ time. In turn, they can focus on intensive and critical tasks as well as tackle the issues at a higher level.
In a recent Gartner report, 68% of service leaders indicate that bots and VCAs will be more important in the next two years. The figure shows the growing preference and adoption of bots.
Some potential use cases to employ RPA include data entry, generating invoices, processing payments, automated email communication, applying static business rules, downloading, searching and sorting data, processing forms and screen scraping to replicate processing of tasks. RPA will eliminate the scope of manual errors and thereby reducing the number of complaints. It can be employed to pick up front-end as well as back-office processes. The software instances or bots observe human users to grasp and perform their tasks. Companies can also utilise RPA to aid the human agents as they answer the calls.
Consider a practical example — A consumer goods company receiving multiple complaints from its customers across various channels employs RPA to process their information, organise and sort in the required format, and resolve the same if it comes under the pre-defined categories – exactly how a human agent will do this work. The customer needs to select and input the data as required. And, RPA can monitor most of the concerns. But, it will give faster resolutions with higher accuracy. Besides that, it can also generate reports for the detailed analysis that the company can use to prevent further problems.
In the global and complex market, companies are constantly looking out for the ways to retain their customers with better experiences. As we get more digitalised, the use of RPA for providing customer support and service will become predominant. It defines a systematic way to handle interactions, extract data and follow a set of workflows without human intervention while serving human customers.
RPA can be considered as equivalent to your virtual or digital workforce to boost business operations. RPA takes over the mundane task lifecycle – fetching data from a source, doing basic operations, following workflows and extracting the outcomes in the required format. Thus, enabling the employees to add value to their actual work.
Chatbot solutions for AI-powered customer service
Impact and benefits of RPA
Let us see a use-case depicting successful RPA implementation as showcased in this Business Wire report. Scandinavian Logistics Partners AB (Scanlog), specialising in international transports, achieved outstanding outcomes by transforming its order booking process with RPA. Talking about numbers, Scanlog’s Average Handling Time (AHT) per customer order was four minutes and with RPA it came down to just 20 seconds. Also, within two months of its implementation, the company recorded a 15% Return on Investment (ROI).
Cost savings — RPA is indeed driving major benefits. One of them is cost savings. Companies need to invest hugely in employing and retaining their employees. We can’t eliminate the human touch from customer service. But, employing technologies such as RPA will allow them to do the needful work. The statistics as shown below highlight the major cost savings achievable with RPA.
Customer happiness: Another advantage is customer satisfaction. By automating the operations, the company delivers end-to-end service with high accuracy and speed. RPA can take charge of the work in a 24×7 manner. Once the rules are defined and the system is available, there’s no stopping. It ensures quicker, simpler and leaner workflows.
Effective and personalised service: Next, RPA fueled by AI will further reduce human efforts. The customer support will be more ‘personalised’. Customer concerns will be addressed before they arise. In essence, proactive actions will ensure customer complaints are reduced with machine’s accuracy. And, the ones that come through are resolved at the earliest without manual delays and confusions.
Resource optimisation: Putting RPA in practice means freeing the knowledge workers from mundane tasks that tend to reduce their productive hours. The automated processes will save their working hours. They will be engaged in tasks that require reasoning and complex thinking. Even in peak times, RPA can scale to balance the workload without any additional requirement of resources. RPA also overcomes human limitations – sickness, leave, holidays, etc.
Quick ROI and efficient processes: It is easy to get started, scale up and meet the goals. Compared to other technologies, RPA offers a quick start to the companies. The cost of setting up is not a major concern as in most cases the businesses retrieve the ROI within a year. It drives process improvement making it more agile. Thereby, it supports achieving the SLAs (Service Level Agreements).
Chatbots and human customer services; does artificial intelligence replace or complement humans?
RPA – Reality-based perception and actions
RPA is not just a buzzword. It has come a long way from the 1920s traditional ‘workflow automation’ to gaining popularity in the early 2000s and now to become a game-changer for the businesses. It offers scalable and flexible options to overcome the gaps in customer support and service operations.
If we go by figures, the RPA market will observe a significant growth from $183mn in 2013 to $5bn by 2020 as per the Transparency Market Research predictions.
There is no second thought about the positive impact of this technology. It will further elevate with AI to give a new dimension to business processes making them proficient. It will empower businesses to make complex decisions without much human involvement. It depends on the organisations to embrace this change and amalgamate the tech and human resources towards the fulfilment of customer service delivery promise.
Author Bio – Swati Kungwani is the Project and Communications Manager at iTouchVision, a UK-based customer service platform. She specialises in customer experience management and driving new customer initiatives. Connect with her on LinkedIn.