The Future Is Here: How Automation Will Enhance Our Jobs in 2020
Automation has quickly found success in almost every industry and been leveraged by every department. Streamlining repetitive or cumbersome activities improves the customer experience, but also impacts the Employee Experience (EX).
As businesses think about the right kind of automation to deploy in 2020, they must find the perfect balance to enhance both CX and EX while managing a budget. For corporations like Uber, with millions of digital customer interactions every day, the structural, financial, and temporal investments necessary to dive into true Artificial Intelligence today might make sense, but for the average businesses, the technology getting the most headlines in automation doesn’t fit. Luckily, there’s an alternative that business leaders should start implementing immediately — RPA.
“RPA fits business budgets while delivering the automation companies need to enhance both customer experience (CX) and employee experience (EX).”
Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Machine Learning (ML)
Technology like IBM Watson and Google Assistant that “think on their own” and robots that code themselves over time are understandably exciting for any business leader trying to dive into the deep end of automation. These brand new capabilities offer the biggest opportunity for automation, but any company looking at AI opportunities needs to know how to swim in the metaphorical deep end already. Such brand new technology is inherently unstable and experimental. Without a highly trained and talented IT department or the budget to support a stellar third party team, AI and Machine Learning are too complicated and too unknown to implement well today. Technology develops at an astounding pace, however, so keep an eye on AI to become commonplace over the next decade. Those opting for AI today must be willing to seriously invest time and money before they expect a return.
“It’s hard to plan for a global pandemic like COVID-19, but other less extreme incidents can drive up call volume unexpectedly as well.”
At the other end of the spectrum of automation are simple, straightforward computer scripts. These unique, custom scripts tell computers to run specific tasks and complete individual actions in a rigid order. Anyone can write and run these simple scripts with a couple of days of research and practice with programs like Windows PowerShell and Apple’s Automator for Mac. Programs like these can automate writing emails or creating calendar appointments when users run the scripts they’ve created. Contact centers have used response macros for years to the great benefit of agents and customers. For individual employees willing to invest some personal time in learning how they work, creating their own macros and scripts can be a helpful bit of automation to enhance productivity and efficiency for repetitive or common tasks in any job.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
Somewhere between these two extremes rests a goldilocks zone for business automation. Balancing the business-wide and bottom-line improvements AI and advanced automation can provide and the much smaller costs and learning curve required by scripts, Robotic Process Automation (known as RPA), is transforming the way contact centers and live agents do their jobs. The efficiency of RPA applied to repetitive tasks in call centers improves the customer experience, but also impacts employee experience.
“The efficiency of RPA applied to repetitive tasks in call centers improves the customer experience, but also enhances employee experience.”
Efficiency is the defining characteristic of RPA. No matter how good a contact center agent is, an RPA bot is more efficient. RPA can handle more customers faster than an agent can, and can handle many times more customers at the same time. Since RPA and self-service platforms take care of simple tasks, the calls that do make it through to contact centers are always interesting, high-value interactions. Without the burden of tedious interactions, live agents have the freedom to treat these complicated interactions with the attention they deserve.
Customers benefit from this efficiency as well. Reading an invoice request, searching the database for the appropriate document, downloading the invoice, copying the customer’s email address, writing an email, attaching the invoice, and sending the email to the customer is a multiple-minutes-long process for an agent. RPA bots achieve the same result in milliseconds. Other simple tasks like tracking an order or initiating the returns process are easily fulfilled by RPA. The bots can find recent orders associated with an account in an enterprise’s database. They can also verify a product purchase and return eligibility then populate forms and automatically create the appropriate labels a customer will need to print and use for returning products.
The Future Is RPA
Automation is becoming increasingly important to business leaders across the globe. With a variety of options to explore, choosing the best way to automate can be difficult. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning deserve the headlines the technologies garner, but practical applications of this automation still feel a few years away. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) strikes a balance between the speed and efficiency advanced technologies like AI can potentially provide and the ease of implementation and small learning curve simpler automation excels at. By automating repetitive processes customers and employees touch often, RPA allows businesses to jump headlong into the automation trend without worrying about the immense costs of large AI and Machine Learning projects.
Business leaders looking to automate effectively and improve CX quickly while also improving EX should look to RPA. Companies willing to put off automation a few more years can plan to invest in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning when the technology becomes affordable in the future.