Robotic process automation can free contact centre agents from repetitive mundane tasks, enabling them to focus instead on providing better customer service.
We’ve mentioned robotic process automation (RPA) before, and for good reason: it’s occupying an increasingly large role in contact centre operations. And because RPA works behind the scenes — in contrast to the customer-facing chatbot — there is very little chance of adverse reactions from customers. They will simply see better responses from agents, thanks to robotic processes streamlining much of the work agents need to do when handling customer queries.
One of the fastest growing contact centre solutions
So what is RPA? The Institute for Robotic Process Automation and Artificial Intelligence describes RPA as “the application of technology that allows employees in a company to configure computer software or a robot to capture and interpret existing applications for processing a transaction, manipulating data, triggering responses and communicating with other digital systems.”
According to Frost & Sullivan’s findings in their white paper Robotic Process Automation: A New Era of Agent Engagement, “Robotic process automation is the use of software that incorporates technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to automate routine, high-volume tasks that are sensitive to human error.”
RPA software ‘robots’, F&S says, “can mimic humans in the handling of countless types of processes, including inputting or manipulating data, triggering other processes, or communicating with other systems.” It claims RPA represents “one of the fastest growing contact centre solutions.”
“The benefit and beauty of RPA is that these virtual agents can accomplish multiple tasks — tirelessly, quickly and accurately — freeing up their human counterparts for more complex, high-value, and sensitive tasks that require human attributes such as emotional intelligence, reasoning or judgment.”
Augment and complement, rather than replace
Specifically in the context of call centre operation, F&S says, “RPA agents work in the background, automating routine tasks that tend to bog down back-office workers and contact centre agents; in a typical work stream, customer data might be retrieved from multiple applications or databases, or be required to be input in several places. RPA agents can streamline this with great accuracy and speed.”
However, F&S makes the point that RPA doesn’t replace existing business process management (BPM) systems, case management systems or contact centre/back-office applications. Rather, it “augments and complements these solutions, without the requirement for complex application programming interfaces (API) or coding, allowing for quick deployment.”
“RPA is the elimination of repetitive and time consuming tasks that not only drain the agent’s energy, but also open the potential for human error.”
There’s more good news about RPA. Robots are often condemned as destroyers of jobs in whatever field they are deployed. Not so RPA. It may even reduce agent churn, according to Contact Center World.
“What RPA brings to the customer service equation is not the elimination of agent jobs,” it says. “RPA is the elimination of repetitive and time-consuming tasks that not only drain the agent’s energy, but also open the potential for human error. It frees agents to focus more closely on building and retaining the emotional bonds that keep the customer happy and ensure they repeatedly return to your brand.
“Customers receive an enhanced level of service from agents who are given more responsibility with a reduced workload. Agent training costs are lowered, human error is eliminated, quality and accuracy is improved and customer interaction times are decreased.’