For many customers, good service is all in their experience. It may be the only post-sale interaction they have with your company. So it had better be a good one. They want quick resolutions, rapid answers to questions, and empathy for the challenges they face. Yet, service agents must depend on using multiple—sometimes dozens of—separate applications to provide service, which can affect the experience.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) . By doing all the legwork involved in extracting data from back-end systems and eliminating the repetitive tasks that previously were a hallmark of the job, RPA can boost agent productivity, increase process automation, and help operations deliver differentiated experiences and even uncover new revenue streams. Here are five best practices to help your customer service function get up to speed to leverage these benefits.
Start simple by automating simple tasks
Instead of putting customers on hold to launch necessary applications and to gather data, data from the appropriate systems. Rather than the agent cutting and pasting the data, the bots could do it and put it in the correct fields, eliminating errors. Both these simple automation allow the agent to focus on the customer and not the paperwork. So start doing more. Why use an Excel spreadsheet or calculator to assess or estimate costs? The bot can do all calculations—without errors. Start small and simple and gradually get more sophisticated. You’ll see agent productivity and efficiency increase, errors decrease, and customer satisfaction rise.
Upskill agents as RPA deployments mature
RPA will change the way your agents work and have you reconsidering how they work. Businesses such as yours are producing more, and more complex, products, which is making consumers contact customer service at an increased rate. RPA helps you keep up with this rising volume and to be more attentive to customers.
RPA will help focus agents on tasks that impact the customer experience directly as well as higher-value business tasks such as cross-selling. As a result, you may need to upskill your agents so that they’re capable of doing the more delicate task of nurturing the customer relationship. That requires the agents to have empathy and other “softer” skills, which can be more difficult to master. The good news is that these new, higher-level duties are more interesting and varied, helping to improve agent satisfaction.
Remember to automate the customer experience across all touchpoints
Think how customer touchpoints have grown over the years. First, telephone. Then email. Today, they can interact with your company through the web or through a customer portal. By way of mobile. Social media. Texting apps. You have to prepare to meet customer expectations at each.
RPA can help you get the full customer picture from all touchpoints, not just the fragmented portrait accumulated through siloed telephone, email or app interactions. That way, customers will get the best experience regardless of how they choose to interact with your business.
RPA can even enable your agents to manage multiple interactions using a single user interface. By automatically connecting every channel and collecting all information in a dashboard that puts data right in front of them, agents can dramatically cut call resolution time as well as the cost of serving customers.
Keep in mind that data needs to flow both ways to fully leverage it
Customer service reps do three things with information: They retrieve it, they generate it, and they collect it. It’s important to remember that the data moves two ways—and that is essential for helping with digital transformation.
The traditional reason for collecting data was to improve the customer experience. The idea was to keep basic customer information and service history up to date, so every time customers called, their data was available for the agent to access, and the issue—whatever it was—could be addressed and solved faster.
But in practice, these systems didn’t work well. Agents were forced to enter customer data manually—typically into more than one system because so many of the legacy databases weren’t integrated. If an agent had to pass a customer to a higher-level colleague or subject matter expert, that person might have trouble finding a complete view of the customer, fractured as the data would be through multiple siloed systems. To complete the circle, the agent would have to access all these systems again the next time the customer called. The data could be up to date but not in a centralized location.
Although in the past the data collected by customer reps was in service apps, the business as a whole missed out on it. Yet, that data—and indeed, everything about the customer interaction, regardless of channel—can be of immense value to a business. With RPA, data entry is automated and allows for two-way connectivity between the legacy systems that hold data and the new-age systems that are accumulating customer data. This makes analyzing data at a higher, strategic level possible, helping the business create actionable insights almost instantaneously.
Decide which metrics are important
Some customer service metrics, such as response time or time to resolution, will still be important after implementing RPA. But other metrics will be less critical, and others will emerge as more significant for helping improve the customer experience. Here are some of the things to measure:
- Reduced errors. Many of the more complex customer service processes can be performed without any human errors at all. This results in fewer customer complaints and callbacks.
- Enhanced customer service agent Call center agents formerly were often handed a script and a phone. After that, they had to navigate through multiple complicated systems to get access to customer data. Today, RPA brings everything to them in real-time. By measuring how long it takes them to complete certain tasks or satisfy customers, you can keep tabs on how RPA is helping with productivity.
- Regulatory mandates and internal best practices compliance. Bots follow regulatory rules perfectly and never forget a step. Compliance with regulatory requirements or just internal best practices can effectively be programmed into a process. Meeting these guidelines is an important metric to follow.
- Improved employee satisfaction. As mentioned before, one of the top benefits of RPA is that workers are freed up to do higher-value work. Increases in employee satisfaction can be measured by doing regular surveys of agents to ask them how they feel about their jobs.
Give your customers and agents the experience they deserve.