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17, August 2017

Go Robot Go: So you think you can automate your processes?

Process automation is the new frontier of proactive customer experience. The big kahuna of delivering rock-and-roll customer experience. Sure, the hype is real. Domains such as Retail, BFSI, and Telecom are incorporating virtual robots to perform definable, repeatable and rule-based tasks with greater accuracy and substantial cost savings.

With Robotic Process Automation (RPA) finding a purposeful and powerful friend in analytics, it can only turn into a bigger deal. Allowing enterprises to rapidly analyze and act on advanced metrics, it helps them streamline business processes and achieve operational benchmarks. RPA also empowers them to collect and manage crucial information on customers and their buying preferences on a timely basis.

Believe the hype but…

Send the town crier back home. Ask the nice lady to stop singing about it. Because it is clear that process automation is the next logical step in the future of customer experience. However, like with all good things, especially in the realm of emerging technologies – caution must be advised. To paraphrase an old saying goes, the settlers learn from the mistakes of the pioneers. The first-mover advantage is not always advantageous.

Having said that, Customer Experience (CX) is a combat zone where promises are made and expectations are set. As an enterprise, you cannot afford to play the waiting game, and take notes of the successes and failures of those with bigger budgets. You can lose customers in the blink of an eye. Miss out on an opportunity to better serve customers and you may as well show them to the front doors of your competitors.

In order to know what it takes to automate processes (whether backend or frontend), it is important to follow these steps prior to the implementation.

Thorough evaluation: Never rush to buy an RPA tool before understanding the project requirements. Evaluate RPA suitability and functionality along with the automation roadmap. Identify which processes are suitable for RPA. Next, explore if there are packaged software or services already available that could speed up the process of deployment instead of building a new one.

Short-term potential results: Check if RPA can help in exploring new growth areas to generate additional revenue opportunities. By performing activities that were previously tedious or expensive, RPA tools can contribute to generating the desired outcome faster than ever before, both in shorter deployment time and speed up the processes.

Involvement of IT team and SMEs: Ensure that your IT team understands why RPA is different from other tools in terms of security and deployment measures. Plan as early as possible so that the right tools and the right manpower are available for quicker deployment. It will also help in identifying potential bottlenecks during migration.

Availability of in-house skills: Several skills are required, including the selection of suitable processes, best-suited tools, how to set it up, building and testing, writing necessary scripts, monitoring run-times and more. If you lack the necessary in-house capabilities, hire a consultant who can help an internal team gear up to the challenges.

Evaluate budget and build a business case: Understand the required and available budget by considering all financial constraints. Evaluate the total cost to operate the process including the various licenses to be procured. When done right, process automation tools can alleviate pressures of overspending on workforce or innovation.

Promote employee awareness: Let your employees be aware of RPA. The challenges that come along with the change. In today’s job market, the fear of losing employment can bring about internal resistance, leading to techno-anxiety. It is critical to communicate properly as to why you are implementing RPA. Involve those who have the desire to learn and script designing software robots, and explain clearly why mundane repetitive tasks are being eliminated. And instead, how employees can better use their time for higher value-work.

The future is right here and now

Most enterprises have a vast amount of tasks that are not automated for a variety of reasons, and robotic process automation offers potential ways to automate them. But, the expectations of RPA can be as large as the confusion about their technical abilities. The next logical step should be to partner with a technology vendor that understands the finer nuances of not just its implementation, but its prowess to improve operational efficiency, harness advanced customer data and lead to revenue opportunities.

The future of CX is no longer something to lackadaisically look forward to, with bright-eyed expressions and nonlinear expectations. It has already arrived. Right here and now. Taking quantum leaps in progressing customer experience cannot be decided on a whim. But it does not mean that patience is the need of the hour. Certainly not. In today’s growingly AI-led marketplace, it takes deliberation, perseverance and of course, the right partner to be true CX leader.


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