Businesses are in a tough position right now. On the one hand, in a depressed economy, in which the coronavirus pandemic has battered supply chains, forced new working arrangements, and generally made business as usual impossible, companies are doing all they can to offer something like normal service.
On the other hand, customer expectations are, in many cases, higher than ever. Customers may be more demanding about what they spend their hard-earned money on, and the service they receive for that money. In lots of cases, businesses may be experiencing more demand than ever — from customers who have no qualms about going elsewhere if they feel that their expectations are not being met. They are probably also doing so under suboptimal conditions.
To put it another way: companies are under pressure to deliver a better, faster, more efficient service than ever at a time when this is more challenging than it has been in years. That’s a difficult situation to navigate.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can help. But what is RPA? In essence, it describes software-based “bots” that can automate some of the high volume, mundane, rule-based tasks that every company has, but few companies relish doing. These are typically processes like migrating data from one legacy software package onto another, onboarding new customers or employees on work-based systems, or extracting information from receipts and inputting it into financial databases. All of these jobs (and many, many more like them) are vitally important in helping a business run, but they also take employees away from more skilled, value-adding tasks they could otherwise be doing.
Thanks to RPA, many of these monotonous chore-like jobs can now be automated. The results aren’t just about saving money at a difficult time, they can transform the way your business operates — including enhancing customer satisfaction.
Helping out during a tough time
This is more important than ever during a pandemic. Resources and margins are tighter than usual, and businesses may be lower-staffed as a result of changes in the past year. While the workplace will slowly return to normal as vaccines roll out around the world, businesses will likely remain depressed in many sectors and areas for some time to come.
As a result, technology that’s able to automate certain manual tasks can be a game-changer when it comes to helping to streamline the workflow, and provide more flexible scaling in both upwards and downwards directions.
Contrary to occasional negative perception, RPA is not intended to let companies reduce headcount by automating away jobs that previously required humans. However, these software tools can help people to carry out their work with more efficiency, while also freeing them up to carry out tasks that will ultimately prove more meaningful — including spending more time on certain tasks involving customers, who can be more demanding than in previous, less stressful times. That’s good for employee morale, as well as businesses’ bottom line.
Bots assisting humans
In some cases, RPA “unattended bots” can be used to take mundane tasks away from the people who would previously have had to carry them out. This can also have a positive impact on the customer experience, since it can be used to speed up response rates on areas like onboarding for new customers, with query response times reduced from days to minutes — or less.
In other instances, RPA tools are able to help human employees carry out their jobs better. Attended automation refers to RPA tools that run on an employee’s desktop and can aid them in performing their jobs by chiming in with recommendations or suggestions. That could be for on-the-job training, ensuring compliance with rules and regulations, or guiding employees with recommended actions when they are responding to customers’ diverse, complex, and frequently evolving needs.
This real-time guidance can be given even during live interactions with customers; helping improve outcomes in the process. Far from taking jobs from human employees, attended bots can empower employees to provide better customer service. This is especially important at a time when many employees are working from home, which may prove more challenging from a support perspective than being in an office surrounded by co-workers.
RPA tools can transform businesses
RPA can be transformative to businesses at any time. During a challenging period such as the current COVID pandemic, it can be more transformative than ever. RPA tools can help improve revenue, minimize expenses, enhance quality while reducing errors, and boost customer satisfaction. It can also have a big impact on employee’s satisfaction, whether that’s augmenting their abilities or helping with upskilling, or simply taking away rote, mundane tasks they would otherwise have to perform.
Businesses must make sure to select the right processes to automate, and the right RPA solution provider to do it. However, implemented correctly, these automation solutions promise to revolutionize the way companies do business.
And, hey, if they can do that during a difficult juncture like this, imagine what they will mean for productivity once everything begins to return to normal.