In 1947, General Motors saw the benefit of reducing labor through automation and established a department to save energy and materials and improve process quality, accuracy and precision. The latter three themes – quality, accuracy, and precision – constantly elude many contact center operations where processes can be horizontally and vertically complex and inevitably span multiple business applications.
Complexity aside, there are numerous barriers to adoption: no suitable application interfaces to support robotics, lack of budget, insufficient executive-level sponsorship, other project priorities, and so on.
Putting these gatekeepers aside for a second, while some contact center processes are suited to full robotic desktop automation by completely eliminating human involvement, some are more appropriate for partial automation because they require an element of judgment, reasoning, and visual analysis that humans perform more accurately than robots. What this means in practice is a symbiotic relationship where robotic automation reduces data entry, mouse clicks and the complexity of a multi-faceted process, in the right sequence and while adhering to regulatory and corporate rules, while the customer service representative handles what they excel at: managing the relationship with the customer.
Not to be confused with BPM (Business Process Management) or Workflow projects requiring multi-million dollar budgets and lengthy implementation timelines, robotic automation solves the problem quicker and at less cost.
Nothing illustrates these points more than a recent assignment to optimize a customer retention process in order to reduce human error rates and overall call handle time while retaining the customer and the revenue stream. To complicate matters, the process involved many permutations and comprised multiple sub-operations across several business applications: mainframe green screens, web browser, and legacy thick client Windows, none of which were designed to be connected to anything else let alone be automated. Therein lies a substantial engineering challenge.
The business challenge from this chaos was to devise simple but efficient user input screens to capture only the data necessary for robotics to proceed, instead of a large amount of (mostly unnecessary) data input to the existing manual process.
The solution, built from Uniphore Integration & Automation product (JIA), transcended contact center management’s belief. What used to be a lengthy, error-prone and frustrating process metamorphosed overnight into one of very little data entry combined with maximum automation, which led to 20% shorter call handle time, 50% shorter call wrap time, and improved agent and customer experience with, ultimately, protection of revenue streams. This is possible because robotic automation can work 24 hours per day, makes no errors, and works through application screens 3-4 times faster than a human. Nowhere is the robotics point better illustrated than a back-office contact center project which achieved.
If designed correctly, robotics gives an illusion to the uninitiated observer of a simple process with little that can go wrong. Look under the screens and you’ll see many sophisticated robotic cogs and wheels hard at work.
That’s the very essence of robotics: a self-operating mechanism designed to mechanically follow a predetermined sequence of operations to cut your operational costs and improve profitability.