Use RPA to Deliver Better Customer Service Experiences

Customer service organizations know that they have to deliver a quality of service in line with customer expectations to keep satisfaction rates high and churn rates low, and they are turning to robotic process automation (RPA) to help them.

RPA is a tactical, short-term fix to digitize common, reproducible agent tasks. It's an easy overlay to your existing technology ecosystem and extends the life of the contact center applications that you are using. Forrester predicts that more than 44 percent of organizations are already using RPA.

There are two forms of RPA. RPA bots working in "attended" mode target the front office. They are launched by agents in the flow of their work. "Unattended" RPA bots, on the other hand, autonomously run scheduled back-office tasks, like claims processing or generating invoices, from a work queue. Customer service operations uses both types of RPA. An agent can start a task with support from attended automation, which can then kick off unattended RPA to finish the process.

Customer service leaders are using RPA to do the following:

  • Standardize and speed up agent work to better serve customers. RPA automates agent tasks within manual, rules-based processes like launching apps, cutting and pasting from different apps, and basic calculations.
  • Integrate applications to reduce errors and improve compliance. RPA allows organizations to quickly integrate applications without disrupting the underlying infrastructure. RPA robots also automate repetitive tasks that are prone to errors, which helps organizations deliver more accurate outcomes.
  • Uplevel employees' confidence so they can better nurture customers. RPA automates the repetitive, low-value tasks, like call wrap-up tasks, call notes, and data entry, that interfere with core agent activities. It also surfaces knowledge or data at the right steps in processes so agents don't need to put customers on hold while they search for information. RPA allows agents to focus on adding customer value, solving customer problems, and strengthening customer relationships.
  • Speed up agent work to improve customer experiences. RPA robots can perform tasks four to five times faster than agents, streamlining inquiry capture and resolution and improving handle times and service-level agreements (SLAs).
  • Deliver actionable business insights to better align with customer expectations. RPA reduces manual errors, which means that higher quality data can be collected. In addition, RPA robots interact with legacy systems to uncover data that was previously too labor-intensive to extract. This enables organizations to mine broader and more reliable data sets to reveal new insights. Companies can use these insights to create and monetize completely new services for customers.

The contact center is a great workspace for RPA, as the applications that agents use are precisely controlled. As the scope of RPA broadens to handle more tasks within the contact center, agents will increasingly focus on value-added work, escalations, and exceptions.

RPA will not only reduce headcount, but it will make your agents more effective. RPA allows organizations to keep up with ballooning interaction volumes by automating basic task work for every agent. This strategy preserves a high quality of service that your customer expect.

RPA will also focus agents on tasks that impact customer relationships. Companies are releasing new products and services with more complex features more than ever before. Front-line contact center agents take the brunt of the burden of change. RPA will allow organizations to offload repetitive tasks so they can focus on up-leveling their skills and nurturing customer relationships—a win-win for both agents and customers.

Kate Leggett is a vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research.