Five Reasons to Take a Hard Look at Automation Today
If you’ve read the news or spoken to any colleagues over the last decade, chances are you already know something about Robotic Process Automation. You could be living in a cave and still have heard of it, with all the attention it has gotten recently. RPA, Automation, Robotic Automation, Robots, Bots – all are common names for a powerful business paradigm shift that is happening right before our eyes.
Many experts are predicting that the transition to RPA marks the start of a second Industrial Revolution. Entrepreneurs in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries replaced cottage industries with mass-production technologies, and automation promises to usher in an entirely new way of life. Like the machinery in those early factories, automated solutions are not simply tools for employees. They can also take over many of the basic tasks traditionally performed by human workers and provide better, more efficient service – all while freeing employees to focus on higher-value activities.
Robotic automation is worth taking a hard look at, not only because it is changing the world but also because it can do great things for your contact center. Just as importantly, it’s turbocharging your competitors: Nearly three quarters of companies are planning to automate labor functions or have already begun automating low-level work, according to a recent surveyi. Don’t wait for tomorrow – consider a few key reasons that your organization should be pursuing Robotic Process Automation today.
Reason #1: The automation wave
Automation is making a splash in industries around the world, and its potential is both massive and unfathomably diverse. Analysts and experts have rushed to add their thought leadership to the subject by flooding the business world with books, blogs, webinars and conferences. These contributions are both a cause and a result of the subject’s rapid rise in the public consciousness. Organizations and businesses of all kinds are also eager to participate.
Automation is more than just hype, though. Its rise in financial services, insurance, telco, healthcare, BPOs and many other industries attests to its vast and enduring capability to transform the business world as we know it. Many developers are selling RPA in various flavors to enthusiastic audiences. It’s likely that many of your customers, partners and competitors are already using these tools to automate processes and complete a range of operations in the workplace. The growth curve in this space is exponential, and it’s not too late for you to catch the wave too.
Reason #2: The money question
One of the major appeals of automation is that it is very cost effective. The ROI is unmistakable, and users reap visible benefits in weeks, not months or years. With more financial flexibility and profitability, you can better meet the needs of your clients and improve the bottom line.
RPA lowers labor expenses (think dollar cost averaging, not FTE cuts) by enabling your agents and back-office teams to optimize their time doing higher-value work, rather than wasting minutes and hours on routine, mindless tasks. In a review of IT outsourcing services, researchers found that productivity and profits rose significantly in organizations that implemented automationii. “Cost savings range from 26 percent to 66 percent, depending on the service tower, with 14 to 28 percentage points of these savings directly attributable to automation,” according to the report. “This higher level of savings compares with typical cost savings of 20 percent to 30 percent from traditional labor arbitrage and process improvements alone.” No matter how competent your agents, they are always susceptible to basic human error. By automating those tasks, you can reduce errors to next to zero.
Reason #3: Help your employees escape from boredom
If you were to monitor the daily work of your front- and back-office teams, you might find that they spend much of their time on simple, repetitive tasks. They are constantly copying, cutting and pasting, switching between systems and entering duplicate content into multiple applications. It’s like entering your account number three times for an IVR when trying to pay your utility bill – and then doing it over and over through the course of the day.
Take a moment to step away from your managerial concerns about profits and efficiency and look at the customer-facing, in-process employee experience. Would you want to work like that?
Automating these repetitive tasks alleviates the boredom and frustration of the day-to-day grind. In some cases, according to Forrester, the use of RPA can lead to the creation of higher-skilled positions1, and 64 percent of respondents in a recent survey said their companies were using automation because it freed staff to do other tasks.2
RPA allows employees to add more value by doing the interesting “human” work we were designed for: Flexing our minds with meaningful thought, analysis and skills. You’ll have happier, more engaged employees, which translates into happier, more satisfied customers. What’s more, your office will be more efficient and streamlined, which improves KPIs across the board.
Reason #4: Scaling with ease
Fine-tuning your staffing requirements can be nearly impossible when you’re relying solely on human labor. Call traffic changes from day to day, hour to hour and even minute to minute. Bringing in team members or sending them home at a moment’s notice is not a sound business practice. It’s also difficult to hire and train skilled employees to keep up with growth.
Robots, on the other hand, can scale up or down whenever needed. There’s no risk in adding more of them, and they deploy faster than any human can. They save money, too: Robots ramp up your capacity without the normal cost associated with staffing up. Robots can also be programmed to be “multi-skilled,” which makes staffing your organization with the right employees at the right time a cakewalk. It’s a scalable way to simplify daily tasks and grow your enterprise in the long term.
Reason #5: Make the boss happy
With RPA creating such a buzz in the business community, someone on your management team has probably already broached the topic. If it hasn’t happened yet, it will soon; there’s no denying that robotic automation is a management mandate today. If automation can add value to your contact center operations -- and most likely it can -- you should be taking a serious look at it. Consider in advance the questions you’re likely to get:
- Which use cases make sense?
- Will it increase employee satisfaction?
- Will it increase client satisfaction?
- Will it help you hit your SLAs?
- Will it help you with compliance?
- Will it help you decrease fraud
These goals are frequently key benefits of automation in the contact center. Your proactive exploration and problem solving can keep your business pointed in the right direction and reassure leadership that you and your team are up to date on best practices and the newest technologies in the contact center.
Is automation right for your organization?
Automation is changing our work lives, personal lives and bottom lines every day, and its benefits span the organization. Leadership can see visible, improved ROI, while you can simplify your responsibilities by limiting the time and effort spent to scale your workforce. Equally significant, agents and back-office employees are no longer stuck performing time-consuming tasks that require little creative thought, human interaction or decision-making. You’d probably be hard-pressed to find legitimate reasons to not automate where it makes sense.
Be assured that the competition is hoping that you don’t automate. When organizations use robots well, they realize a distinct competitive advantage. If you want to keep up in the customer relations industry and with businesses around the world, take a hard look and find out what robotic process automation can do for you.
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i Amy Talbott, “Research: Automation of low-level IT tasks is already widespread,” ZDNet November 1, 2016 http://www.zdnet.com/article/research-automation-of-low-level-it-tasks-is-already-widespread/
ii ISG Launches ISG Automation Index, September 26, 2016. http://ir.isg-one.com/File/Index?KeyFile=36014440