For any company with a contact center, the words robotic process automation (RPA) may sound like replacing the human contacts with computer programs. But that is nowhere near the case.
Agents, analysts, and team leaders will always be needed in the contact center world, but why not make their lives easier by taking the day-to-day blandness out of it? Why not use an agent’s knowledge and helpful skills for the real tasks at hand? Why not take a customer’s routine inquiry off to the side where an RPA can take care of it in a fraction of the time?
RPAs are a great source to take the mundane and banality off of the agent and hand them more power to satisfy a customer’s most difficult questions.
“The perfect scenario for using an RPA is any repetitive mundane task that takes more than 30 minutes to complete,” said Ben Segal, Associate Director of Infrastructural Efficiency at Freshly. “Anything that’s the same and done on a consistent basis is a candidate for RPA and you should look into that as a viable solution for you.”
The term of robotic process automation started taking flight in the early 2000s with the internet boom. The term means the configuration of computer software to emulate and copy the actions of humans inputting or interacting with digital systems to implement a business process. RPA bots decipher and generate a response and communicate with other systems to execute different and repetitive tasks.
There’s a saying about RPAs: An RPA bot doesn’t sleep, take breaks, and makes no mistakes.
Making a case for RPA is one thing, but creating and implementing is quite another. You may say “We don’t have the personnel to create a complex computer program.”
Actually, you do.
Segal and his teammate in the Freshly contact center are the ones that built the company’s RPAs and all it took was a simple class. Now Freshly runs an RPA for internal processing of tickets between Playvox and Zendesk and another RPA for order cancellations.
Freshly used UiPath, but there are plenty of websites that offer classes on building your own RPA.
The question then becomes – what do we use them on?
Here are some examples of ways RPA customer service that can help your team:
1. Data Retrieval
RPA data retrieval involves companies integrating their email databases, call centers, membership/loyalty account number systems, and other core systems, providing real-time access to data across applications.
This can help place everything an agent needs into a consolidated view of the customer’s profile and information. An agent having everything from billing history to records of previous interactions can allow the agent to answer a customer’s questions easier, handle complaints better, or have more selling opportunities.
This frees up agents to shift the focus of their work from data retrieval to more meaningful customer engagements that prioritize improvements in customer satisfaction. With better satisfaction comes better scores on their scorecards and improved quality assurance.
2. Data Capture And Transfer
By using an RPA bot for data capture and transfer, it will be a data entry time-saver where the bot can scan written forms for information and extract the data from those forms.
The forms processing server grabs images, processes the information, and transfers the data to the RPA bot. Using this output, the RPA bot can easily transfer the data into a legacy system – even if it requires keystrokes to work. Simply set up the RPA to type the data by keystroke and you’re set to go.
In the example above, the RPA can scan the form on the left and autofill with the information on the right. This can be used for legacy files written on paper and scanned into the computer as docs or pdfs.
This would be considered an unattended RPA, which means it's a kind of “back-office” job or a behind the scenes RPA.
3. Data Entry Verification
Data entry verification is a process in which different types of data are checked for accuracy and inconsistencies after data migration is done.
Without an RPA to do this, a company would need one person to enter the data followed by a second person to double-check the data or a proofreader. If a company uses different systems, one person is needed to copy and paste the data into each system.
This can be hugely time-consuming if an agent is manually entering data from a customer, not to mention it can lead to errors. The agent needs to be on the front line taking care of a customer’s needs, not worrying about inputting data while in contact with the customer. This frustrates the customer and builds up the agent’s Average Handle Time.
With RPA customer service, an agent can take a call, and the RPA can go to work gathering basic information as they proceed with the customer’s issue. The RPA can perform tasks like auto-fills, data identification, and can be programmed to handle cross-function duties – all done in seconds.
4. Forms Management
All businesses use forms. For contact centers, that can entail taking product orders when a customer fills out the form themselves or an agent takes the call. Forms management is the process of distributing, completing, and processing.
Or worse, some industries, such as banking, still use paper forms for loan applications as well as online forms. However, they are the same thing, just in a hard copy. These loans can be auto loans, business loans, student loans, equity loans … you get the picture.
An RPA can take care of all of these after being scanned in, or read online, then process the information and sort the various orders or loans into the correct subject, category or however your company organizes its system.
5. Workflow Configuration
Following that initial contact with a customer, challenges can arise for the agent. While engaged with the customer an agent may have to bounce from one system with basic customer profile information to another system that contains items such as current order status, prior order histories, pending and/or support tickets.
With multiple systems, the agent is trying to work as fast as they can while the customer sits and waits. Time builds up and if an agent is less experienced they can’t navigate the systems as well as the veterans. Obstacles arise with different logins; different tools; copying and pasting from one screen to another.
RPA delivers a real call center benefit by eliminating these headaches. Workflow and data integration have an intuitive, visual, approach that allows experienced agents to take the workflow configuration lead rather than the IT department. This means the person most qualified to know what needs to be done is empowered to make it happen. By leveraging workflow optimization based on working knowledge across all agents, the customer experience is much more consistent and effective.
RPA delivers a real contact center benefit by giving the agent the power to integrate data into fields across all associated systems with only one entry. This benefit disposes of two of the biggest complaints heard from contact center customers, “Why are you asking for that information again? I already provided it” and “Don’t you keep notes in your system? I gave that information to the person I spoke with yesterday.”
6. Web Data Extraction
Web data Extraction or Web scraping can come in handy in various ways for a contact center. An RPA bot can be created to scan, say emails, for information that can be pulled out and placed into stored information in the company’s system.
The obvious advantage of this is deferring from the agent locating the information in a customer’s email and entering the information by themselves.
What a typical small business contact center would look like without the use of an RPA bot.
The same flow of service with the same company while using some sort of RPA bot system for everyday tasks.
7. Access Controls/Permissions
Security is a major concern for contact centers. Personal information can flow throughout the systems a center uses and it can get in the wrong hands. While technology significantly improves service efficiency and customer care, there are many data exposure concerns as service agents share documents containing sensitive and confidential personal information.
Through RPA, security is less prone to human error, which enforces compliance and improves quality during digital document transformation. And since that information is dispatched through the RPA bot, information is not seen by the agent.
However, it may be worthwhile to entrust a team leader or manager to handle what’s called attended RPA. By allowing only a team leader to approve automation scenarios before they are published, security is strengthened and information is typically more accurate.
A company that needs to streamline efficiency in their contact centers doesn’t need to add agents. They need to free up the time of the agents already onboard by taking away the routine tasks and letting an RPA bot handle those tasks.
RPA customer service procedures can lead to higher rates of First Call Resolution, lower Average Handle Time, and lower wait time for the customer.
In addition, by letting the agents handle tougher and more involved customer issues, it can let them shine with better personalized customer service. That’s how a company should really judge and score their agents’ quality assurance.
Are you currently using an RPA in your customer service operations? If so, let us know in the comments below!