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Robotic Process Automation and Customer Service: Secrets to RPA Success

More and more customer service organizations turn to robotic process automation (RPA) to make agents more effective. The technology offloads repeatable tasks from agents, enforces compliance to process and policy, and allows agents to focus on work that matters.

Yet contact centers often don’t see the initial ROI of RPA play out as they scale up. Case in point: Over 50% of deployed RPA solutions haven’t scaled to beyond 10 robots. We also see organizations falling into the trap of under- or overutilizing RPA as an automation solution. They also struggle with initiatives to digitize and automate core processes, keeping them locked to legacy applications.

To succeed, enterprises should ensure that they:

1. Select RPA targets that are best suited for this technology. Customer service operations typically use attended-mode RPA, where bots are invoked by agents in the flow of their work. These automated processes can kick off unattended bots for back-office work — for example, invoice or claims processing. Use RPA for high-volume, simple, reproducible work — five decisions, five applications, and 500 clicks. Realize that RPA does not fundamentally improve business processes or improve the agent experience.

2. Create an automation strike team and formalize collaboration with business and IT. We know that customer service organizations are adopting emerging automation and AI technologies — as are other lines of business. This approach breeds automation silos, each with their own governance and best practices. Look to create an automation strike team — a team that sits between traditional IT and business leaders that is responsible for the companywide architecture, governance, and delivery of automation. This team, working collaboratively with the customer service organization and IT, helps embed RPA in the contact center and standardizes behavior that could lead to poor results.

3. Communicate the automation strategy to agents. Agents want to use automation to offload themselves from repetitive tasks. But at the same time, they are afraid to lose their jobs. As you roll out RPA, make sure you communicate how each agent will personally benefit from the change, how you will coach and career-path agents as their work changes with automation, and how success measures will change to focus on quality-of-service measures instead of pure productivity ones.


Kate Leggett is VP and principal analyst at Forrester Research. Read more Forrest blogs here.

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