The press wants to alarm us about robots and automation. They fuel a dystopian point of view so prevalent in popular culture these days. Rather than zombies and killer viruses, we’re in the era of drones and autonomous cars. Even McDonald’s is dispensing all you can eat fries in some markets. Self-service kiosks selling fries — now that’s something to worry about.
Automation and AI are well represented by popular TV campaigns featuring Watson, Siri, and Alexa. Once thought of as off-limits, white-collar jobs are being impacted. Robo Advisors from Wealth front and Betterment use software algorithms to replace humans at a much lower cost. Gartner predicts that one-third of all jobs will be replaced by automation and smart machines by 2025.
What is Robotic Process Automation (RPA)?
Robotic process automation automates a number of business processes normally handled by humans. The software streamlines rules-based activities, such as data entry, data assembly or manual work similar to that found in factories.
Why should you care?
RPA is creating some controversy at organizations because of its potential to impact jobs and outsourcing. Automation will transform the workplace, displacing 22.7 million jobs in the U.S. by 2025, according to Forrester research.
How Automation and Frontline Personnel Will Co-Exist
Research analysts have also painted a more optimistic view of the future, where humans and robots can co-exist and work side-by-side. The key to success is to look for opportunities to cut costs and improve the overall customer experience.
We believe that adroit use of automation will not necessarily displace customer-facing personnel, but rather free up frontline staff to become more productive problem-solvers and relationship builders.
We’ve all had dubious experiences with automated customer service, whether it was a self-service kiosk or an IVR system that doesn’t quite get the job done. Customer service can never be fully outsourced to robots, but there are a number of scenarios within customer service centers that can and should be influenced by automation.
- Replacing situations where frontline personnel need to use multiple systems for a customer inquiry – for instance, one for customer profile, one for order history, another for service requests
- Empowering customer-facing personnel by reducing or removing tedious and error-prone processes – spending less time on manual entry and repetitive tasks allows reps to be more relationship-oriented, while also improving productivity and lowering AHT
- Improving customer satisfaction by requiring customer-facing scenarios to reduce repetition, and really value the customer’s time – imagine a day when we never have to provide the same person or account level information we’ve just provided on a previous call.
Deloitte recently published a report that argues technology creates more jobs than it destroys. Overall, we’re optimistic about this new era of smart machines. For example, the IBM Watson group is working with Medtronic Diabetes to create cognitive solutions for diabetes management, collecting real-time data, and combining it with contextual information to predict low blood sugar patterns. IBM Watson is also creating use cases where they can assist with a medical diagnosis.
Some classes of jobs will be impacted and maybe we should worry that our educational institutions and current work environments are not adequately preparing us for these future trends. But it’s time to focus more on how robotic automation is going to empower a whole new generation of frontline personnel to deliver exceptional customer experiences.
[About the author] Dylon Mills is the Director of Marketing Content Strategy & Development at Jacada. As such, Dylon’s main responsibilities are to strategize, create, and deliver content for Jacada’s product portfolio that aligns with the global Go-To-Market strategy, corporate positioning, and marketing campaigns. Dylon’s prior work experience includes Product Management at one of the top Fortune 500 Technology companies, Symantec Corporation. Outside of work, Dylon enjoys problem-solving and any project that includes building/tinkering with tools. Dylon holds a BS Consumer Economics from the University of Georgia.