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Digital workers on the frontline of customer experience

When you interact with a company’s customer service, would you rather the person you’re dealing with help with your inquiry, or spend time fumbling with systems and tasks? If you’re like me, I want to get my problem or question handled correctly first go and be provided a solution that gives me satisfaction and closure.

Many organisations, however, are still trying to figure out the best way to not only provide customer service agents with the solutions they need to be successful, but also how to give customers the experiences they expect.

The challenge is that customer expectations are changing. They’re demanding improvements in real-time, personalised engagement, as well as greater options for communication – bringing the concept of business self-service to the forefront. But they also want human interaction for critical business process interactions or failure points – both of which are an integral part of the customer experience.

One of the key technologies driving better customer experience and making frontline employees more valuable is robotic process automation (RPA). Customers can have a ‘conversation’ with a digital worker (software robot) in real-time to resolve complex issues – and avoid duplicate data requests. Enterprises can expand processes that can be automated across all interaction channels and platforms.

Placing digital workers on the frontlines of customer facing interactions has been faced with some trepidation. A lack of understanding has led many to think technology is going to replace them, or at a minimum reduce the workforce.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. RPA isn’t going to get rid of employees … far from it. In fact, it’s going to help make them better, happier and more productive.

Preparing the workforce for change

Intelligent automation through a digital workforce lets people do what they do best – interact with other people. Using a digital workforce to perform tasks like providing shipping status or account balance information gives employees the freedom to work with customers on complex problems or inquiries, providing a more personalised approach to customer experience.

Employee turnover is one of the largest problems that contact centres face. The number of systems and repetitive tasks they’re faced with leads to massive job dissatisfaction and a constant battle of leaders to train and retain talent. RPA helps eliminate these problems so customer service employees can focus on meaningful work, creating happier agents and a better environment.

The key to success is having a solid change management process in place and involving employees early on in the journey, so they clearly understand the impact and intention of the automation project. The reasons must be clearly communicated so they’re easily understood to engage the business and get everyone on board.

In many cases, automation will take a portion of people’s roles or daily activity away, so know from the beginning how you’re going to reallocate their time. Upskilling will be required if employees are now being asked to do something different that wasn’t part for their previous job.

One thing is certain, by properly managing the unification of human and digital workforces from the very beginning, you’ll have a greater chance of success.

Rob Mills

Rob Mills is VP ANZ for Blue Prism, responsible for driving the company’s digital workforce solutions throughout Australia and New Zealand. Rob has over 25 years’ software sales and operational experience.