They’re Not Robots: They’re Digital Workers

19th December 2019

Ever had the feeling that the customer service advisor you’re speaking to has switched off a little? Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised. Taking payments; updating customer contact details: these are repetitive tasks. But if a detail goes astray and the customer has to repeat information, or worse, the advisor makes a mistake, it can be deeply damaging: the experience is poor, the customer’s trust in the organisation drops and the advisor is no cheerier for the next call. 

But what if, instead of a human, there’s a digital worker managing these less imaginative, rules-based interactions? Accurate, efficient and consistent; unable to be distracted or distressed, this digital worker – a robot, if you will – simply gets the task done. There’s no need for small-talk and no opportunity for value add. 

Further, thanks to robotic process automation (RPA), where the process is optimised then automated, the interaction is swift and smooth. The customer is satisfied. 

Maybe a robot on the frontline isn’t such a bad idea… 

Happier humans: 57% of employees more satisfied by working alongside robots 

Meanwhile, the human advisor is engaged – in every sense – on a more challenging question. She has to think creatively, read the customer’s emotions and understand their needs. And when she does so, the customer is genuinely grateful, for the complex trip she’s organised, the additional products and services included or the concerns she’s resolved. 

As a growing number of Davies clients are discovering, this use of RPA is more rewarding for the advisor and better for the business. 

This isn’t just wishful thinking. In 2018, a report for Forrester Consulting found that introducing RPA has a significant positive impact on contact centre staff – and on customer service[1]. 

  • 57% of employees use more intellectual reasoning and provide better customer service as a result of automation 
  • 57% are more fulfilled and satisfied with their jobs and become more engaged 
  • 25% end up staying with the company longer 
  • Close to 70% of companies agree that introducing RPA removed some or all mundane tasks from employees’ workloads, so they could better focus on customers 

Transformed processes: 96% of requests fulfilled on time 

But digital workers aren’t just a ‘replacement’ on the frontline; some of the most valuable uses for RPA are behind the scenes, seamlessly linking systems and processes so that the human advisors don’t have to. In the contact centre, that can mean ensuring that the information the customer provided is automatically forwarded, as part of the interaction, when a call is transferred to a different advisor. There’s no need for the customer to repeat the information, saving time on the call and reducing frustration. 

However, as a Davies client found, there are also opportunities to use RPA away from the contact centre. 

We worked with an IT services provider to apply RPA to transform the processes it used for provisioning new users and amending account permissions. We began by redesigning the processes – in one case, trimming a 1200-step process to 140 steps, so immediately simplifying and accelerating it. We also incorporated more touchpoints with the end-user, using scripted and branded emails sent by digital workers to keep the users informed of progress, while dramatically reducing the input required from the service provider’s team. 

Using the automated processes, the service provider is far better able to deliver the quality of customer experience that users expect; more than 96% of access control requests are now delivered on time, and trust in the service provider has increased. 

Rapid results: ROI in a year, long-term savings of up to 60% 

And here’s the clincher: these results happen fast, especially compared to traditional IT implementation projects. 

Many RPA projects break even within the year, and some in under six months. At Davies, we typically see long-term savings from RPA of 20-30%; we have even helped some clients reduce service costs by up to 60%. 

For example, at a major insurer, we identified opportunities to automate six customer-facing processes, including quotes and requests for policy documents. This could be achieved swiftly and deliver annual efficiencies worth £300,000, translating to approximately 20% FTE savings. We further found longer-term opportunities to make smarter use of digital workers in web chat and other areas, which offered a potential saving estimated at over £1 million a year. 

Take the first step: RPA assessment 

Whether your priority is cost savings, reducing errors, improving the customer experience or reducing the burden on your human workforce, RPA is proving its worth in a growing range of businesses and situations. 

To explore how you could benefit, why not start with a process automation assessment, our rapid response that gives you a compelling case for change?

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