One of the most talked-about, debated and blogged topics these days revolves around artificial intelligence, Robotic Process Automation, and the myriad ways they will change our lives.
Due to the big buzz around, robotic process automation has become the hottest topic of discussion among senior management. One of the main benefits of RPA is that it helps automate routine tasks. This increases the productivity of employees and gives them enough time to complete value-oriented tasks.
But first things first.
Here in this blog post, we discuss RPA in customer service.
What is RPA?
Initially, the goal of automating processes was to increase the speed of order fulfillment. By eliminating the need for manual data entry, businesses can improve speed, efficiency, and accuracy – and of course, profit.
Fast forward to the early 2000s and the arrival of Robotics Process Automation (RPA). RPA is a capability (software and services) that allows virtual employees, also known as “bots,” to transact on any of the company’s systems in the same way as a human, performing complex rule-based actions.
RPA software allows users to create automation and manage workflows with drag-and-drop functionality in a visual way that can be completely independent of coding knowledge. In fact, the beauty of RPA is that it allows company employees to easily customize the “robot” for reasoning, gathering and extracting knowledge, recognizing patterns, learning, and adapting to new situations or environments.
The global robotic process automation (RPA) market volume was estimated at $597.5 million in 2018 and is expected to reach $3.97 billion by 2025. According to a study by Grand View Research, Inc., the industry will grow with an average annual growth rate of 31.1% for the forecast period.
It is clear that RPA dominates the industry today.
Why does customer experience management need RPA?
“So what is the goal of customer experience automation? I see that RPA is a cool thing, but why do I have to introduce it to customer service?” If your thoughts were of the same nature, then the below info is for you!
Many companies these days use RPA tools to develop software for data management, transaction interpretation, and interaction with other digital systems. By leveraging RPA automation best practices anywhere in your project, you can scale your business growth.
Recently, a study was conducted with financial and accounting professionals on the benefits of using RPA software. The study concluded that automating robotics processes helped eliminate much of the repetitive, time-consuming, manual processes that professionals in these industries perform every day.
RPA can help improve workplace efficiency and provide more accurate insights. It can also give real-time access to financial data with analytics and reporting features.
Since the big data boom, the volume of financial data has grown exponentially. The only way that finance professionals can keep up is through the use of this type of technology. RPA can add real value not only to the customer experience at the operational level but also to the workplace from a strategic point of view and can help a company to profit.
Many companies are starting to pay attention to how RPA is improving their customer experience. This technology allows software robots to learn to mimic human behavior.
For example, RPA technology can manage enterprise software systems such as FSM software, ERP systems, and service management tools. This is achieved by using the interface of each application in the same way as a human would. The only exception is that the robot can do work at a much faster pace and more efficiently, without having to take breaks or slow down.
However, as with all technologies, there are some limitations to the use of artificial intelligence, RPA software, and machine learning. However, RPA significantly improves the customer experience and can boost your sales.
The RPA approach can optimize the internal processes of a company by combining technology and people. It can also help identify ideas and trends more quickly, allowing businesses to seize more opportunities.
RPA works better with general rule-based tasks that require manual input. Once configured, the software robot will use different application interfaces. Typically, only a few modifications are required to implement a robot. In some cases, if configured correctly, no changes will be required from the outset.
Five ways of implementing RPA in customer experience
Here are some of the ways RPA is improving the customer experience, perhaps in your competing organizations.
#1. Focuses on tasks that develop customer relationships
Once again, robotic process automation helps companies automate routine tasks, which increases efficiency and reduces costs. When machines handle repetitive, routine tasks, workers have more time to invest in value-driven tasks related to creativity, innovation, problem-solving, customer communication, and customer experience development.
What’s more, RPA allows customer agents to focus on the tasks affecting customer relationships.
Let’s see how RPA does it?
It helps agents by offloading repetitive tasks so they can focus more on improving their skills and strengthening customer relationships.
One of the most popular examples of using RPA was when one bank changed the order processing to use bots to process 1.5 million requests per year. You’d be surprised to know that the total work done by 85 bots was equal to the productivity of 200 full-time employees, but that was equivalent to only 30% of the cost.
Thus, the use of RPA helped the bank to increase productivity, which allowed it to use the saved time and money to solve value-oriented problems related to building customer relationships.
You can also hire RPA developers for your projects to increase the overall business performance.
Advantages of this approach:
- Takes less time
- Increase your productivity
- Requires fewer resources
- Reduces cost
#2. Quickly responds to customer requests
RPA has completely changed the way companies NOW respond to customer inquiries. Have you heard of Amelia before? It is a chatbot adopted by Allstate to help its employees interact with customers. Contact center operators can use Amelia to access the latest insurance policies and protocols while they are on the phone with a client.
Using this chatbot lets the company achieve the best of both worlds: on the one hand, customers get instant responses to their queries. On the other hand, they also get the speed and efficiency of the chatbot to handle huge volumes of ever-changing insurance information.
Gartner predicts that by the end of 2021, 15% of all customer service interactions globally will be handled completely by AI.
It is likely in the coming days that businesses will use RPA-driven chatbots to handle customer requests, showing that understanding RPA (Robotic Process Automation) techniques is NOW more important than ever before.
Advantages of this approach:
- Increase speed and efficiency
- Quick response to customer inquiries
- Processing multiple requests in less time
- More spare time
#3. Solves a customer problem before they hang up
Huge delays in responding to customer inquiries can be a huge hurdle and can seriously damage your reputation in the market. It is not good to spend too much time-solving customer requests and keep customers waiting too long.
Let’s take a look at the aspects that determine how quickly your company responds to customer requests to ensure incredible customer satisfaction. One of them is FCR (First Called Resolution).
It is the KPI that has the greatest impact on customer satisfaction.
A study of over 150 call centers found that each percent improvement in FCR results in a corresponding one percent increase in customer satisfaction. The key to improving FCR is to provide customer agents with the information they need immediately so they can address customer inquiries in less time.
This is how the RPA customer experience comes into being! Using RPA solutions, the catered robot can display relevant information on top of any program on the agent’s computer, making it easier for them to access critical information in real-time without taking too much time.
In this way, RPA helps you retain your customers and address their needs before they hang up on your site.
This is mainly why understanding RPA in customer support techniques has become a topic for businesses these days.
Advantages of this approach:
- Data reassignment
- Updating fields
- Navigating complex applications
- Retrieving customer information
#4. Reduces human error
One of the main benefits of RPA is the reduction in human error by automating tasks. This is a huge relief for employees as they no longer have to spend hours fixing mistakes.
Research has shown that 10% to 20% of a person’s work time is spent on repetitive computer tasks and low-level tasks. Human error only exacerbates the situation, and it takes a lot of company time and resources.
But using RPA as a solution can reduce errors, which allows customer agents to spend time on value-driven tasks. And all thanks to RPA robots!
Obviously, one of the benefits of customer journey automation is that it gives employees enough time to complete advanced functions, which helps them improve their problem-solving and creativity skills.
Understanding RPA and using it is beneficial for organizations as well, as they can save on the costs that are spent on correcting work that has a human error.
According to an IDC white paper, the human element costs organizations more than $ 62.4 million annually! With RPA, organizations can reduce over 65% of their costs and achieve ROI within six months of implementation.
Advantages of this approach:
- Increase productivity
- Reduces human error
- Saves time and money
#5. Boosts your Net Promoter Score
To improve your customer experience, you need to be clear about where you are in the market and how you can boost your customer experience. This allows you to bring more users to your business and also increases customer retention.
Among all the methods that prevail in the market today, the Net Promoter Score (NPS) has proven to be the most effective way to measure customer satisfaction and loyalty.
But how do you calculate this? The answer is simple. NPS is calculated based on answers to a simple question: “How likely is it that you recommend us?”
Net Promoter Score is the difference between the number of people who will and will not recommend your services/products to others.
The Net Promoter Score measures your customers’ willingness to recommend a company’s products or services to others and helps you gauge your market position.
First of all, the assessment measures how well your services are satisfying the target customers.
RPA customer experience bots automate tasks, allowing employees to devote more time and attention to tasks that help build relationships with clients. Customer service agents can now focus more on understanding customer needs and spend time solving their problems.
By using RPA automation anywhere in your business, you can improve your Net Promoter Score.
The process of using RPA is simple but can sometimes be very expensive.
“Show your bots what you are doing and then let them do the job. They can even interact with any system or application just like you,” said Mukund Srigopal, director of product marketing at Automation Anywhere.
Advantages of this approach:
- Allows employees to devote more time to customer-related issues
- It lets you spend less time on repetitive tasks
- Helps to quickly solve the buyer’s problems
- Provides effective communication with experts
The Colorado Housing and Finance Authority, which finances affordable housing, uses robotic process automation to speed up repetitive but necessary work. The quasi-government agency has digitized a mortgage reconciliation process that used to take four employees over three days but is now completed in just a few minutes.
Likewise, consumer credit reporting company Equifax has turned to robotic process automation (RPA) tools to move faster in a market that, according to one executive, punishes those who are slow to complete customer tasks.
Fortune 500 insurance company Unum measures the performance of about 40 RPA bots that either help employees or tackle repetitive tasks entirely. Bots help Unum find weaknesses in processes so that the company can eventually rework them using more extensive and persistent RPA software.
Unum, Equifax, and the Colorado Housing and Treasury Administration (CHFA) recently shared their views on why they want to bring automation to workflows that have long been done by humans. For them, RPA does not pose a threat to their jobs but rather relieves them of routine tasks so that they can carry out tasks that require more discretion.
Using RPA tools that reduce errors and speed up workflow, and enable employees to tackle large-scale projects, these companies say they are in a better position to serve customers who expect service to be delivered quickly and near perfect.
“For us, it’s about ensuring that our services are very good for our clients,” said Jairo Quiros, vice president of general global services at Equifax and site manager for the company in Costa Rica. “RPA is a means to achieve this goal.“
Involving employees in automation
The London School of Economics found that RPA delivers between 30% and 200% ROI in its first year of use. But in an interview with McKinsey & Company, Leslie Wilcox, professor of technology, labor, and globalization at the school’s management department, said companies would be wrong to focus solely on financial gain, in particular those derived from labor savings.
As Wilcox and other automation experts have pointed out, RPA tools – when used correctly – can deliver long-term benefits.
For example, Equifax first tried RPA in 2016. “Think big but start small,” Quiros said. “We had a lot of questions about RPA: “Is it real? Will it bring the benefits that we expected? “
However, two big questions remain. “Can we do it globally, and can we do it so quickly?”
Now, by applying RPA to 65 processes, most of which are paper-based, Equifax can answer these important questions in the affirmative. Indeed, its RPA portfolio is expanding, Quiros said, noting that Equifax uses RPA software to address certain product and service-related challenges, such as speeding up the time it takes to compile credit reports for mortgages. And in the customer service department, RPA robots now perform data entry tasks that previously required employees to switch between 20 different windows of computer programs.
“The bot will offer a window asking what to do,” Quiros said. “Bots will collect data, say, to solve a complex customer problem.” The customer service agent’s focus is no longer split, he said, but instead focused on communicating with the customer.
RPA allows Equifax to now check “thousands of systems and thousands of processes that have not been analyzed for a long time,” Quiros said.
Of course, such conversations can make employees worry about the safety of their jobs. But Quiros said that the corporate automation center of excellence had put RPA in the hands of employees, allowing them to see how it works and, in turn, get rid of their fears.
As employees decide how best to use RPA, rather than leaving it to the IT department, they gain the ability to recognize the work areas for which automation is best, he said. “The business is responsible for launching the bot,” he said. “This is driving the [growth] of a culture of automation.” That way, employees don’t have to worry about robots taking their jobs, Quiros added. Instead, if employees are promoting ideas for how RPA can make their jobs easier, Equifax will try to automate those repetitive tasks so employees can do more for the client, he said. “They accept it.”
Using bots to find flaws
Insurance company Unum also experimented with RPA software in 2016. Previously, customer service representatives had to log into several different systems to perform simple tasks such as changing a customer’s address and then copying and pasting “everywhere,” said Rex Price, Technology Capability Manager, General Services, Center of Excellence for Process Efficiency at Unum.
It was “a good launching pad for us,” he said, as a trial run of Unum with RPA combined customer and policy information and also took care of the repetitive work of injecting corrected data into various legacy system programs of the company.
Fast forward almost two years, and Unum has 30 human-maintained desktop bots and ten more automated bots, not only processing customer information in the contact center but also helping the policy administration customer service team with repetitive tasks like changing insurance policies and follow-up work on expired policies.
These bots, offered by software company Pega, improve customer experience by reducing lead times and task transfers, Price said. He hopes to have 75 bots implemented by the end of the year.
Price said he doesn’t yet know the full measure of the financial gain to be gained from RPA, but Unum’s ultimate goal is to ditch bots and change all the repetitive processes instead of eventually.
This is because bot connections can be interrupted when data sources change; the main problem remains even after the bot is repaired. Unum intends to eventually overhaul these processes by identifying any flaws and constantly automating repetitive manual tasks with the Pega Platform, the vendor’s flagship product.
“Some of the people who cut and paste [to change customer information] hug us,” Price said. “They can think more about improving quality.”
Reconcile 75,000 lines of data in minutes
Each month, the Colorado Housing and Treasury business unit reconcile accounts, reports, and other data sources to ensure that CHFA customer loan information is consistent with the data provided by the loan service company. It contains 75,000 rows of spreadsheet data and is “an ideal use case for automation,” said Brian Mueller, manager of the integrated records management division of CHFA.
Previously, it took four people in a business unit three days to manually transfer data from a series of spreadsheets to a database. Now, using RPA software, data is automatically retrieved and placed into an SQL table and then compared with information in the data warehouse. Any discrepancies in information are displayed through a user interface for employees who can reconcile the data in minutes.
“They can opt-out of manual data entry,” Mueller said of the business unit. “They can focus on high-level things that are more important than moving data.” For example, these employees now have more time to view down payment benefits data.
Want to see more RPA use cases? Read this blog post!
The nature of automation eliminates any inherent human error or bias from repetitive back-office processes, ensuring a consistent customer experience. It also allows your employees to focus on the most important customer-centric business areas.
In this age of digital transformation, it is becoming increasingly clear that the more time your company can spend interacting with a customer, the more positive the customer experience will be and the better the outcome for all parties. This is true both during the customer interaction and in the future.
As Flobotics customers can attest, RPA can transform the way businesses do business on the server to improve efficiency, productivity, and, ultimately, customer service. Companies using this technology to improve customer interactions will be able to gain some competitive advantage.
On top of that, as more and more processes are automated to free up time with the client, the better the experience will be in the long run.
To learn more about how RPA can benefit your organization, contact us for an assessment of what you can expect from Flobotics’ RPA implementation.