By automating functions in both the back and front office of the contact center, organizations can reduce errors, improve agents’ efficiencies and deliver enhanced customer service.
Automation is not a new tool in the contact center space, with the industry having already embraced the benefits provided by automated offerings like Interactive Voice Response (IVR). Clearly, the efficiencies delivered by automation have been recognized by the customer service sector.
The latest innovation in this arena is that of robotic process automation (RPA), a solution that is perfectly suited for those processes that have repeatable and predictable interactions with IT applications. What sets RPA tools apart is that these are able to increase the efficiency of the processes, as well as the effectiveness of services, all without needing to alter the underlying systems.
RPA is particularly useful in the back-end, as it is capable of capturing and interpreting existing applications for a vast array of interactions. These could be anything from transaction processing to triggering automatic responses via email, to simply copying and pasting text from one field to another.
After all, undertaking such tasks, manually, is not only incredibly disruptive to the back-office operation, it is also often tedious and as such, is prone to error. Considering the majority of customer requests typically require obtaining data from or inputting data into a back-office application in order to attain resolution, automating this functionality makes perfect sense.
Automating areas such as these should provide businesses with a whole range of benefits, including enhanced efficiency, reduction in operational costs and increased communication which leads to collaboration across the entire value chain. This, in turn, will help to drive a higher overall level of functionality and productivity.
With RPA, notifications, questions or queries that would require back-office intervention can now be resolved much more efficiently using, for example, self-service voice forms to capture this information. The data can then be directed through to the back-office systems, creating a solution that is positive for the agent, the customer and also for the back-office operations.
Back-office departments tend to lack system automation and even coordination between employees, making them far less efficient than frontline operations. Examples here include work items that are often stored in a variety of different applications, while it is known that employees often spend far too much time working on unproductive tasks. When automation, in the form of RPA, is put in place, tasks are streamlined, and employees are empowered, which ultimately leads to customers receiving more consistent and complete experiences.
Of course, automating back-office processes should have a positive impact on the front office as well, since this will also mean that employees now have more time to focus on improving customer engagement, satisfaction, and retention.
It also goes without saying that if RPA can help streamline back-office processes, organizations should also look at how automation can be implemented at the front-end. Back-office processes are primarily operations-based, which makes automating many of them a reasonably straight forward issue. On the other hand, if one were to implement RPA in the front office, how would this work in this sphere and what results can you expect?
While back office automation is important in order to alleviate strain and improve the support it can offer to the front office, automation of the front office offers so much more than this. Effectively implemented RPA can thoroughly transform how a contact center interacts, communicates and relates to its customers.
It is in the front office that RPA can truly make a difference, by eliminating the repetitive and frustrating tasks that often prevent the agent from achieving rapid resolution to a customer’s challenge. In this way, RPA helps agents to become more productive, while at the same time reducing transaction times, thus improving the overall customer experience. Furthermore, reducing manual errors should cut down on customer call-backs, while only needing to enter information once – due to the fact that RPA can ensure that the data syncs across all systems immediately – means agents can avoid irritating customers by having to repeat questions to obtain what is essentially the same information.
RPA can even help contact centers open up new channels of communication on their existing systems, such as enabling responses to specific customer queries, like balance inquiries, via a channel like text. Moreover, by automating many of the repetitive tasks that agents normally have to undertake, it creates the opportunity for the agents to instead concentrate on developing and growing relationships with customers.
RPA is thus a crucial stepping stone in the drive towards better service and an improved customer experience. It helps enterprises to deliver a better overall experience in a number of ways.
For one thing, RPA facilitates shorter transaction times, as it takes over tasks that would otherwise have to be performed by a human employee, and is able to do these tasks far more rapidly and in a manner which is error-free. In addition, RPA can be used to assist employees in tackling backlogs and large volumes of newly incoming requests, thereby significantly boosting their productivity and their ability to assist the customer effectively.
Another area where RPA can benefit the front office is in its ability to manage customer interactions and communication. It can be used to control a customer contact schedule, triggering reminders when it is time for employees to follow up with clients, or even to alert agents if a customer has submitted a complaint. On the other side of the coin, RPA can also send automated messages related to new services or products to individual customers. These enhanced levels of communication should help your business to understand the customer better, while at the same time increasing their level of loyalty towards your business as well.
Ultimately, having human agents and RPA tools working alongside one another should provide the contact center with the best of both worlds, namely the efficiency and accuracy of automation, coupled with the personalized touch of human-to-human interaction - a combination that will benefit the customers most of all.