How robotic process automation can help contact centres


26 Mar 2020419 Views

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Forrester’s Kate Leggett explains the benefits of robotic process automation and how it can help contact centres deliver a better customer experience.

Robotic process automation (RPA) is a tactical, short-term fix to digitise common, reproducible agent tasks in the contact centre. It’s an easy overlay to your existing technology ecosystem and extends the life of contact centre applications. Forrester data shows that more than 44pc of organisations are already using RPA.

There are two forms of 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, such as claims processing or generating invoices, from a work queue.

Contact centres use 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.

The benefits of using RPA

RPA automates agent tasks within manual, rules-based processes like launching apps, cutting and pasting from different apps, and basic calculations — many of the ‘swivel chair’ tasks that agents do.

RPA robots can also perform tasks four to five times faster than agents, streamlining inquiry capture and resolution, and improving handle times and service-level agreements.

It lets organisations integrate applications without disrupting the underlying infrastructure. RPA robots also automate repetitive tasks that are prone to errors, which helps organisations collect better data and deliver more accurate outcomes.

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It also automates the repetitive, low-value tasks that interfere with core agent activities, and surfaces knowledge or data at the right steps in processes.

What RPA means for the contact centre

The contact centre 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 centre, and as agents increasingly focus on value-added work, escalations and exceptions, RPA will not only reduce headcount but will make your agents more effective.

RPA lets organisations keep up with ballooning interaction volumes by automating basic task work for every agent. This strategy preserves a high quality of service that your customers expect.

RPA can also focus agents on tasks that impact customer relationships. Companies are releasing new products and services with more complex features than ever before. Frontline contact centre agents take the brunt of the burden of change. RPA lets organisations offload repetitive tasks so they can focus on up-levelling their skills and nurturing customer relationships – a win-win for both agents and customers.

By Kate Leggett

Kate Leggett is vice-president and principal analyst at Forrester Research for customer relationship management and customer service.

A version of this article originally appeared on the Forrester blog.