Attended Automation–What is It and Why Do I Need It?

Written by Sirisha Damarapati in Software robots in the workplace on April 4, 2019
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“Attended Automation: Robotic Process Automation that requires human intervention.” – Industry Analysts

Attended Automation

Introduction

As we are embarking on the 4th Industrial Revolution we find the lines between the human worker and Digital Worker blurring further and further. With the advent of AI-based technologies such as Alexa in our homes, Tesla autopilot in our cars, and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in our work life—digital helpers are here to stay and for a good reason, as “they” help humans achieve a better quality of life and work.

The problems that RPA solves include front office and call center inefficiencies, where humans simply cannot keep up with demand and tend to make mistakes—we are human after all. Repetitive tasks are slow and mundane to office workers, who must deal with multiple systems that don’t always like to share. Illustrated in the graphic below we see how inefficiencies in ordinary office processes add up to create massive time and cost wasters at scale.

Attended Automation

How Attended Automation Works

Attended automation is deployed on the workers desktop and increases worker productivity, while unattended automation is deployed remotely and has better scalability. In a call center example, the customer service agent is the “central processing unit” as shown on the left in the diagram below. All processes must go through this person, who can become a bottleneck. (Some euphemistically call this a “swivel chair interface.”)

Automating many of those processes, as on the right, below, will free up the agent to do more high-value support service. As a result, they will be a much more effective employee, both from a customer satisfaction as well as a bottom-line perspective.

Attended Automation

While automation can massively improve a company’s processes, it cannot do everything. There are times when bots need human help to make decisions. For example, when a chat bot is dealing with an unhappy customer, or in a borderline mortgage application case, human intervention is warranted, and attended bots can do this. Attended bots automate processes but from time to time they need human attention to provide a decision for the highest possible efficacy.

Use Cases

Let’s look at how we at Automation Anywhere define and perceive attended automation and some of the use cases we try to solve. Automation Anywhere looks at attended automation as a set of design and runtime features that facilitate humans and Digital Workers to support each other for faster, better results, and ultimately a higher rate of customer retention and satisfaction.

The diagram below outlines the three key types of automation that Automation Anywhere offers for enterprises to improve their processes. Stitched together, they form the hybrid RPA workplace model.

Attended Automation

Let’s talk about the use cases where attended automation can be helpful, from the simple ones to progressively more complicated ones. These use cases include exception handling, document verification, on-demand data processing, and virtual assistant. (Note: In the next installment of the attended automation blog, we will discuss the Automation Anywhere features that handle these use cases.)

Exception Handling for Better Bot Resiliency

Exception handling can be described as a simplistic form of attended automation. When a bot hits an issue with a resource being unavailable or inaccessible the user is notified and prompted for an alternate execution path.

For example:

A bot is deployed to processes daily orders and creates a final report. If the database is down or inaccessible for some reason, the user can be immediately notified. This will allow the user to report and resolve the problem immediately, so his report creation is not delayed.

Attended Automation

Document Verification Before Final Approval

In industries like insurance, thousands of claims must be processed quickly and accurately to ensure internal compliance, keep costs in line, and maintain customer satisfaction at the highest possible levels. RPA is the perfect solution for processing these claims, as most of them are very similar. However, sometimes additional input/approval is needed by an employee in order to complete a process. These instances might include a disputed claim, an upset customer, or even possible fraud. Attended bots can be programmed to identify these instances and defer them to a human, with the goal of ensuring the proper processing.

Here are some other examples:

  • Document verification during mortgage loan processing
  • Conditional processing of orders that are above a certain auto approval criterion
  • Insurance claims which require human intervention for processing exceptions

The diagram below outlines how the exception process works, as invoked by an insurance processing agent.

Attended Automation

On-Demand Data Processing for Increased Efficiency

Today’s organizations typically have many different data sources. Salesforce for their CRM, Netsuite for their back-office, possibly a legacy database for supply chain, and Microsoft Excel as a transitory agent to move data between all of the above. RPA can automate many of those data transfer processes, painlessly moving data from place-to-place with complete accuracy.

However, sometimes employees need to procure and display data from multiple systems to processes a request, but this data needs to be checked by a human before it’s forwarded onward.

Here are some examples and how attended automation can facilitate the data gathering and review process:

  • An agent wants to process an invoice based on order fulfillment retrieves information of the all the pending invoices by triggering a bot. This bot will collect data from multiple sources as needed to provide the best possible information for the agent.
  • A customer calls in requesting information on additional services. The bot can pull the customer account details and the service details. This way the agent is now able to provide the customer with a much more customized information based on customer account status.
Attended Automation

Virtual Assistant to Reduce Agent on Ramping Times

Having attended automation on each machine along with the ability to deploy bots using hotkeys and/or other triggering mechanism can greatly reduce the time required to perform daily activities and at the same time improve accuracy. It can provide a self-guided approach to train agents around various front office tasks. When combined with unattended bots and IQ Bots, it forms the hybrid RPA model.

Here are a few examples:

  • New employee hiring process: Various steps are automated, and each process is triggered by identifying the end of the previous steps or process. This results in less training required for the HR personal to understand the hiring process as they are prompted at each step for next actions. This can significantly reduce delays and errors that might arise due to manual entries.
  • Adding a member to insurance policy: Information retrieval and processing of driving records are auto-handled without agent requiring accessing multiple systems. Single pane view for consolidated data allows agent to focus on one application while paying more attention to customer. Auto-extraction and data population reduce human errors and improves transaction times.

Before: Add new member to insurance policy - before hybrid automation

Attended Automation

Challenges for insurance agent before hybrid automation:

  • Manual entry of data prone to errors
  • Login to multiple applications for data
  • Agent can focus on customer or process – not both
  • Average time to membership—7 days
  • Loyalty rating: Below Average

After: Add new member to insurance policy - after hybrid automation

Attended Automation

Benefits to insurance agent after hybrid automation implementation:

  • 95% reduction in manual data entry/errors
  • Bot auto logs to multiple applications
  • Average time to membership—30 minutes
  • 70% increase in agent productivity
  • Loyalty rating: Excellent

Customer Case Studies

Numerous companies are already reaping the benefits of attended automation. Below are a few of the many organizations who’ve successfully implemented attended bots using Automation Anywhere Enterprise platform to automate their processes.

Bancolombia

Bancolombia needed to automate in order to enhance banking customer experiences, as well as to improve their bottom line. To do so, Bancolombia used attended bots to verify and execute transactions, automating hundreds of processes and greatly increasing back office efficiency.

The results were amazing: 127,000 hours freed per year in branches; 11,000 person-days saved; 51% Increase in efficiency of service time; $7M income from new revenue streams; $ 19M reduction in provisioning costs; and a 1300% return on investment.

Manufacturing Company

A manufacturing company needed to improve its competitiveness in the marketplace. To do so, they chose automation to increase the efficiency for their front office workers.

The result: The company was able to fully deploy their attended automated bot systems on 10,000 PCs in less than three months and achieve a 43% ROI on their automation program.

Attended Automation

Software Startup Company

A fast-growing startup company needed to hire and onboard a large number of new employees. This was a huge challenge for the human resources team who needed to scale their processes to accommodate the company’s growth.

The result: The company took two months to deploy their attended HR bots on over 600 PCs, resulting in a staggering $2 million ROI!

Attended Automation

Summary

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is revolutionizing today’s workplace. And attended automation is revolutionizing RPA. For processes which require human judgment, attended bots provide an interruption to the automation process, allowing the human to intercede and make the best decision. This works especially well in call-centers, where for example an upset customer might need special hand-holding, or in a mortgage loan scenario where a banker’s wisdom is needed to make a go/no go decision on a borderline loan applicant.

Attended automation, when combined with other automation technologies like unattended bots and IQ Bots, form the hybrid RPA model. And collectively, all of these technologies work together to create the intelligent digital workplace, where the augmented worker is empowered to perform higher value work while automated bots perform the repetitive tasks. The end result is a more cost-effective, more productive, and more humane workplace.

Learn more about Attended Automation

Watch our latest on-demand webinar, Attended Automation - The Main Ingredient for Contact Center Success, to learn more about attended bots.

Stay tuned for Attended Automation Part 2!

Next time we’ll go into a deeper dive on Automation Anywhere’s key features that can help you address some of the attended automation use cases that have been discussed in this blog. Stay tuned for the next installment on attended automation from Team Automation Anywhere.