Outside the Service Center: The Greater Value of RPA
The expansion of omnichannel service experiences has put a premium on customer service representatives’ time and attention. As companies face a looming recession and an increasingly global market with customers across time zones and regions expecting 24/7 access to online, email, and call-based service, the people that manage these teams are in a difficult position. They must maintain operational excellence while meeting growing demand—often with the threat of reduced headcounts.
To fulfill this complex and seemingly impossible ask, many customer experience (CX) team leaders are turning to technologies that can lighten the load on representatives while maintaining a human touch. Robotic process automation (RPA) is increasingly being used to do just that. Tools that leverage this emerging technology can optimize operations and free up representatives’ time.
As a reminder, RPA is an emerging technology that allows anyone—even those with no coding or computer engineering background—to create and run scripts that can execute repetitive tasks on their behalf. These bots learn by observing, rather than being fed instructions through lines of code or executable instructions. Once a user shows the bot the step required to complete the task, the robot will be able to execute the task on its own with little to no further human intervention.
In the previous entry in this series, we discussed how equipping teams with robotic process automation (RPA) tools can boost customer satisfaction by addressing the challenges CX teams face. While the potential of this technology to decrease workloads on service representatives and clerical workers while ensuring continued operational excellence is significant, the benefits of leveraging RPA to improve customer service workflows extend beyond the front lines of customer interactions.
Despite the perception that service centers are designed to help customers, they also serve as a hub of information that can (and should) be used throughout the business. Streamlining CX processes using RPA can have long-term, far-reaching value at every level of a business:
As noted in my previous article, one of the major benefits of offloading repetitive tasks to bots is the potential to avoid service interruptions by reducing errors in identifying or billing information. Even the most reliable, responsible, and capable employees make mistakes. To err is human, after all. On the other hand, a properly trained bot will execute data entry tasks correctly every time.
Aside from alleviating customer pain points, improved record-keeping accuracy ripples out to enhance other aspects of the business. Having more reliable and accurate work leads to more productive and functional workplaces that are better equipped to meet demand.
Better security protocols
Data security is a major concern for many modern consumers and businesses, especially as more service representatives are working from home offices. While very few employees or their family members have bad intentions, carelessness can sometimes lead to confidential information being exposed in these settings.
Aside from being a breach of customer trust, incidents like these—even if they are the result of honest mistakes—can reflect poorly on a company and sew distrust among potential customers. Using RPA can help protect customer and internal data by offloading the handling of Social Security numbers, billing information, or other personal information to bots, reducing the risk of mishandling or misuse.
More valuable analytics
One area in which RPA has great potential to improve operations is in insights and analytics. In today’s competitive landscape, having robust data insights is invaluable to operational improvements. However, when service representatives are tasked with data entry and collection, they can only handle so much before the task gets unwieldy.
RPA tools can empower managers and analytics specialists to track more diverse data sets from across the omnichannel service ecosystem to discover new trends—without adding to already-strapped service teams’ workloads. Empowering these specialists with more accurate, up-to-date, and diverse data sets can help guide more informed decision-making from the service center to the C-suite.
The above are just a few examples of the ways in which using RPA tools in service centers can contribute to widespread improvements throughout enterprises. The technology will continue to progress, and more applications and benefits will begin to take shape. The businesses that explore its value now—in service centers and other business areas—will be at the forefront of this progress and are likely to see significant returns from their efforts to optimize service operations.