It’s being called the biggest change since the Industrial Revolution. It produces 25-50 percent cost savings, unheard-of levels of efficiency, and error-free work. If you’re not already working alongside it, you could be soon.
It’s called robotic process automation (RPA), and it’ll be a $4.98 billion market in five years.
In the back office and contact centers, RPA has already become a lifeline. What other agent can work 24 hours per day and still produce flawless work while cutting mean time to resolution by 60 percent? It can handle all the mundane back office tasks and realizes some of its best results when human and robot work side by side.
The future of RPA is the future of customer service. It’ll reach across verticals, free up workforces to focus on higher-level responsibilities, and uncover, through rigorous analytics, how to improve contact center processes from top to bottom.
If you’re not yet on board with RPA, your contact center is falling behind.
Up close with the robots transforming customer service
Half of global in-house centers (GICs) are actively planning or pursuing RPA pilots. And case studies show that companies achieve a return on their investment within a year. That’s due in part to payroll. According to the Institute for Robotic Process Automation (IRPA), a software robot can cost “as little as one-third the price of an offshore full-time employee (FTE) and as little as one-fifth the price of an onshore FTE.”
RPA is also more efficient and accurate. Humans are likely to make 10 errors for every 100 steps completed, but robots make zero. That creates opportunities to improve efficiency in everything from IT to finance to HR, allowing RPA to cut costs by 25-50 percent in some organizations. The IRPA also notes that the analytics collected by RPA create a feedback loop that further streamlines processes and conserves resources.
Both desktop activities—those semi-assisted by RPA—and off-desktop functions—unassisted, fully automated processes—can be automated to streamline workflows. Human employees are sometimes needed for critical approvals and more complex decisions in the automated processes, but working alongside RPA takes more mundane work off the humans’ plate.
And while RPA will put some agents out of a job as it grows, like any new technology, it’ll create new roles in its wake. It allows you to onshore resources, and assign employees to more strategic tasks that robots can’t handle, freeing them from drudge work and expanding their capacity to handle more complex customer requests.
RPA in the financial industry
Financial services is one industry where these results are already being tallied. An industry where back office data crunching can occupy a lot of time, financial services has benefitted from software that files away data and sends notifications. The loan approval process at the typical bank is one example. While the process could normally take up to a week to complete, automating the entry of data once the loan is approved can trim it down to two days.
In another example, an Italian bank adopted RPA for its helpline and saw accuracy grow by more than 99 percent. Its flawless track record of meeting the process’ service-level agreements was topped only by its reduction in average handle time of the call’s wrap-up phase. For basic cases, it cut the time spent by 60 percent, and by 75 percent for complex cases.
The time savings have piled up for other institutions as well. One bank reduced agents’ handle time from an hour to 10 minutes – an 80 percent time savings. Another reduced its check deposit process time by 80 percent and the postal and printed document archiving process by 91 percent using RPA.
RPA opens the lines of communications for telecom
The telecom industry’s customer satisfaction can hinge on the speed with which issues are resolved. RPA allows agents to focus on the complex inquiries, leaving template filling, copying and pasting information, field entry, and other simple tasks to software that handles them automatically and immediately without error.
A Spanish provider, for example, saved the equivalent of €3 million ($3.28 million) annually while increasing overall customer satisfaction through RPA. In Italy, a telecom provider not only boosted customer service but customer re-enrollment as well.
Other major industries where RPA is changing the game
From a travel company that automated the updating of customer travel reservation details in its systems, to retailers whose HR department automated the updating of new employee details, RPA continues expanding to serve a number of industries.
Even in the public sector, a government office is updating details of citizens and “change of circumstances” in government systems.
Welcoming our new robotic back office employees
The case studies are many, and the results are clear. RPA is one of the biggest changes in the makeup of back office work in decades, and it stands to shift the way we manage and staff HR, IT, finance, and call centers. As its reach grows, it’s allowing more organizations to extend their workers’ productivity and more quickly deliver results that earn loyal customers.