I’d be willing to bet that everyone has a boring, repetitive, and mundane task or process that they have to carry out at work that just makes you think “I’d rather be doing anything else” (probably more than one!). Whether that’s data-entry, copy-and-pasting information between systems, emailing out reports — imagine having someone else that could do it for you?
Here’s where robotic process automation (RPA for short) comes in — a robot can be trained to follow the same rules, click in the same places, enter text in the right fields, and do it much more quickly and accurately than a human agent. This obviously results in efficiency savings, and a reduction in average handling time and cost-per-transaction, but there are also less tangible benefits as well. Recently we introduced RPA for one of our contact-centre clients, where the robot is fed information by the agent while they are on the phone to a customer, and the robot searches the billing and CRM systems and presents the relevant information directly to the agent, allowing the process to be completed around 40% quicker and with a greatly reduced chance of any human error.
We have received first-hand feedback from the agents that conversations with customers are much richer — they can devote more of their attention to understanding the customers’ wants and needs, rather than having to focus on navigating between systems and entering data correctly. We also believe this translates into a better experience for the customer, having to spend less time on the phone with a higher level of service.
If a process can be fully automated, without needing agent interaction, there may be an opportunity to use an ‘unattended’ robot. These can work 24*7 without breaks and in the background — taking the boring, unengaging work away from the agents and allowing them to focus on exceptions, escalations, or other higher-value and more interesting tasks. Over time, this may in turn lead to higher job satisfaction and staff retention rates.
While there is a common attitude among employees unfamiliar with RPA that “the robots will steal their jobs”, we see the complete reverse — once automation has been implemented and staff experience the benefits of RPA first-hand, it’s very much a eureka moment and can lead to them thinking differently about other processes within their role or department. That leads to further RPA opportunities, and more benefits to the employee, the business, and ultimately the customer.
No matter the industry or sector, whether customer-facing or not, there will be great opportunities for RPA within each business. Keep an eye out for more blog posts, and follow us on Twitter @akarisolutions for up-to-date info.