No. Robots Will Not Replace Humans.

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Robotic Process Automation will take over the litany of tedious tasks that slow us down, however.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is transforming CX and customer care. The ability to automate the repetitive, tedious tasks often occupying personnel in back offices and customer-facing contact centers can provide meaningful benefits:

  • reduce the need for a cumbersome back office
  • free up contact center agents to handle high-value, complex calls
  • enhance the user journey

RPA takes hold of the dreary tasks that bog us down and automatically executes them without the help of a human interaction. The technology connects to databases and customer communication platforms to serve consumers faster and more efficiently than live agents can. Tasks with multiple steps like retrieving an invoice take time for humans to accomplish.

source: Shutterstock

Reading an invoice request, searching the database for the appropriate document, downloading the invoice, copying the customer’s email address, writing an email, attaching the invoice, and sending the email to the customer is a multiple-minutes-long process for an agent. RPA bots achieve the same result in milliseconds. Other simple tasks like tracking an order or initiating the returns process are easily fulfilled by RPA. The bots can find recent orders associated with an account in an enterprise’s database. They can also verify a product purchase and return eligibility then populate forms and automatically create the appropriate labels a customer will need to print and use for returning products.

“Robotic Process Automation bots complete time consuming yet straightforward tasks, freeing up live agents to focus on more complex, high-value tasks.”

How RPA Impacts Customers

source: Shutterstock

RPA enhances customer satisfaction by automating the customer service process. Automation enables self-service capabilities, streamlining and speeding up customer interactions and solving customer problems more effectively. Consumers hate dealing with tiresome customer service calls. For the third year in a row, self-service interactions have overtaken all other channels as customers’ preferred service channel, according to Forrester.

RPA is the engine that powers self-service channels like Visual IVR or online chat channels. With self-service, customers gain access to most of the options and activities they used to need live contact center agents for. Customers don’t need to trouble themselves by working with an agent. They tell RPA bots what to do, and everything is handled automatically.

How RPA Impacts Enterprises

Efficiency is the defining characteristic of RPA. No matter how good a contact center agent is, an RPA bot is more efficient. RPA can handle more customers faster than an agent can, and can handle many times more customers at the same time. When bots are fulfilling the simple tasks that make up the majority of contact center operations, the calls that used to get sent to back offices are never transferred. With RPA implementation, enterprises can shrink their back offices and reduce their costs. When Michael’s launched a Visual IVR utilizing RPA technology, they saved $47,000 in 3 months.

Since RPA and self-service platforms take care of the simple tasks, the calls that do make it through to contact centers are always interesting, high-value interactions. Without the burden of tedious interactions, live agents have the freedom to treat these complicated interactions with the attention they deserve. RPA allows enterprises to not only shrink the number of agents they need but also empower the agents they keep and set those agents up for success.

RPA and Visual IVR: The Perfect Combination

The Visual IVR and RPA combination creates an incredible ecosystem able to elegantly answer customer questions without the need for live agents.

source: Zappix, Inc.
When customers submit forms via these solutions, Visual IVR captures that information and RPA processes it. When a self-service user selects an option requesting data, RPA bots pull the required information directly from the relevant back-end systems using API connections.

A customer calling a Visual IVR-enabled enterprise simply taps the order status option and is instantly presented with all active orders associated with the phone number they are calling through.

Processes like these, that would have taken multiple minutes of conversation with a live agent to complete, are reduced to milliseconds thanks to customer-facing Visual IVR solutions triggering efficient RPA integration at contact centers.

RPA is the engine driving the powerful self-service interactions that enhance CX and reduce costs for enterprises, especially when implemented with Visual IVR.

Robots won’t replace humans, but they can be extremely helpful taking over the multitude of tiresome, routine jobs plaguing agents today. The relief RPA provides contact center agents frees up those agents to instead focus on the high-value and complex interactions that matter to customers.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Johnny: I agree with the summary of benefits you provided at the beginning of this article. But I think robots and AI not only will replace human labor, they already have. The tasks that robotics and AI support are generally repetitive, low-level, and information-intensive. These functions dominate some jobs to the extent that software and machines have fully replaced people along with their job functions and titles.

    In an article I wrote, Will the Smart Machine Age Make Today’s Sales Skills Obsolete ( see http://customerthink.com/will-the-smart-machine-age-make-todays-sales-skills-obsolete/) I shared the insights of UVa business school professor Ed Hess:

    “In the SMA, jobs that are easily substituted by computer capital won’t be highly paid, and there won’t be much need for workers to do them, either. Yet, there’s hope. Smart machines and AI remain persistently cruddy at performing a myriad of valuable skills. Hess believes that the ones that will endure ‘will require high-level thinking, creativity, and high emotional intelligence. The consensus view is that humans will be needed to perform those skills that either complement technology, or constitute what machines can’t yet do well, and that list includes critical thinking, innovative thinking, creativity, and the kind of high emotional engagement with others that fosters relationship building and collaboration.'”

    Effective customer service demands these skills. Good news for employees at forward-thinking companies striving to be best-in-class: you’ve got job security!

  2. Andrew, you are absolutely right.

    Countless industries have seen human jobs shift to machine hands over the years. Robots and AI are simply the next development and are already making an impact. I think your quote of Mr. Hess hits the nail on the head. There are some skills that can’t be fulfilled by an AI. Many of those emotional, ad-lib skills are at the heart of great customer service. Hopefully, enterprises can see the benefit of handing off the repetitive, low-level, and information-intensive tasks that slow down the amazing professionals staffing contact centers today.

    We wrote about the benefits on our Zappix Blog just the other day (https://www.zappix.com/blog/change-your-customer-service-grade-from-d-ecent-a-mazing/)

    Freeing up these employees to focus all their energy on properly engaging with complex customer queries will benefit enterprises by increasing customer satisfaction, and benefit us all by enhancing our interactions with customer care professionals.

    Thanks for your comment!

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