By Wynand Smit, CEO of INOVO
Contact centre agents who loathe their work, from constantly updating fields to completing repetitive tasks associated with customer interactions may have a negative impact on your brand. They spend hours in thankless admin so that the interaction can be taken forward or so that their own efficiency can be monitored. In a desktop environment, this is no longer a necessary evil; with desktop automation or Robotic Process Automation (RPA), you can free up those agents to focus on servicing the customer in the best possible way.
As Vijay Singh puts it, robots are good at things that are structured. In a contact centre situation, you have multiple tasks that are structured in nature, requiring agents to tick many boxes and complete compulsory fields during an interaction – completing forms, updating databases and spreadsheets, and sending partially-completed documents to initiate a process or workflow, to name a few. All of these tasks take the agents way from customers and, by default, your company’s ability to achieve more successful call resolutions. Many of these tasks are simple to the point of being dull and repetitive, potentially having an impact on motivation and performance.
That’s where desktop automation comes in: rules-based processes are by nature structured, and these can be automated. It’s said that Robotic Process Automation takes the robot out of the human, and that’s exactly what it does; automated processes take away those tasks that don’t require human input, freeing up agents to perform far more complex tasks that require human characteristics such as insights, reasoning or empathy. It doesn’t replace humans, it just takes over parts of jobs.
Boosting productivity and profitability
It’s stated that one bot can perform the rules-based tasks of three humans, and, bear in mind that these bots can be used in a variety of business-wide applications, not just within the contact centre environment, and you get to see the scale of opportunity this presents. The ROI of desktop automation has been calculated at between 30 – 200% within the first year of deployment, and it’s easily deployed since you don’t have to worry about back-office integration with multiple applications or systems.
Bots can work around the clock, which is of immense benefit to sectors that are particularly time-sensitive and that rely on multiple processes – the financial services sector, for example, where huge amounts of information must be captured, stored, accessed and transferred. RPA success is measured in terms of hours given back to the company post-deployment, where time is directly related to cost.
BPM vs RPA
Business Process Management (BPM) can be costlier than desktop automation or RPA. Although they both offer the same inherent benefit of streamlining processes for maximum efficiency and value, RPA automates and optimises processes within existing systems and technology, as opposed to redesigning and rebuilding processes from the ground up (a common occurrence for BPM). There is a place for both RPA and BPM – they have the same goal; the implementation strategies are just different and the selection of the final solution will ultimately depend on the resources available and the specific business requirements.
Free the humans
Since desktop automation can be applied business-wide and across any application or system, it’s also easily scaled across business units. It can also accommodate company growth with ease, and, with a better-trained and upskilled workforce not hindered by inefficient, repetitive, mundane processes, you have more opportunities to capitalise on delivering what your market wants, contributing to enhanced profitability.
The contact centre agents themselves will benefit on a professional and personal level since there is less pressure on them to complete a lot of manual, repetitive after call work. They can focus on improving their personal service, and this, in turn, will contribute to an enhanced customer experience.
Imagine if you’re sitting with an Excel spreadsheet that has to be completed and updated every day – it may only take half an hour, but this could be done automatically in seconds. Compound that by every day of the week, perhaps even with multiple similar tasks each day, and you get an idea of the positive impact that desktop automation could have in the contact centre environment or your office.
The resultant implications of desktop automation include speedier resolution of interactions via efficient processes that deliver more accurate results for customers. Your customers won’t always understand – or care – about the many processes that go into ensuring that they get what they want, but they do care when delays occur. Dealing with inefficient or time-consuming processes can cause a snag in the workflow that could be avoided with automation.
Automation is not new
In contact centres, an old-school form of doing business was for agents to wade through lists, either as printouts or on a screen, having to manually dial customers – automation of dialing speeds up this process, and can lead to higher success rates in contact resolution since an intelligent system can automatically update the database, flagging numbers that aren’t reaching customers or first using the numbers that most recently resulted in a successful contact. This provides contact centre agents with more accurate information, making it easier for them to achieve their individual and departmental KPA’s through improve the more improved and efficient use of data.
Humans cannot function as if they’re robots, but robots (or robotics, at least), thrive in a structured environment, one that is organised, productive and efficient. Depending on your business requirement, it can make sense to adopt RPA or desktop automation to take your business forward, for the benefit of your customers.