Technology leaders are jumping on the Robotics Process Automation (RPA) technology bandwagon for good reason. It yields tremendous value in a myriad of business and industry sectors. RPA automates repetitive manual tasks performed by human workers, so their time can be used in higher value responsibilities. Because manual actions occur in so many different business processes, RPA is one of the most rapidly expanding technologies today.
Common business processes that can benefit from the use of RPA technology include, but are certainly not limited to:
- Customer or employee onboarding
- Regulatory compliance reporting
- Order scheduling & tracking of shipments
- Loan application opening
- Credit collections
- Shipment load research
High Adoption Rate Driven Is by the Bottom Line and Top-Notch Service
Two primary factors are driving the demand and embrace of RPA: tremendous ROI and improved quality of service. Typically, investment costs can be recouped in a very short amount of time—often just a few months—while ongoing savings can be substantial. RPA allows you to process disputes faster and more accurately, 24x7x365.
One global IT company estimates that 62% of customers will consider switching to a competitor after only one or two unpleasant experiences. Besides saving taxpayer money, even government agencies need to supply great customer service through speed and accessibility. Think about USPS, who now competes head to head with UPS and FedEx for shipping services.
The Call Center—An Ideal Setting to Leverage RPA
For the purpose of this blog, let’s take the case of a large multi-national financial institution (we’ll call them $-Corp) with a customer service call center operation. They employ hundreds of Customer Service Representatives (CSRs), spanning multiple countries. As with many large corporate environments, call centers typically utilize several systems in their day to day business. These generally include a CRM system. Often, the CRM will interface with to pass data to and/or require data be passed back by ERP systems and/or other Line of Business (LOB) systems. Any of these systems may be commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) applications or custom applications developed in house. Further, these systems may or may not have Application Programming Interfaces (API’s) that allow for easy back end integration.
In this case, customers call into the $-Corp Call Center to dispute items on their financial records. Typically, customers will send in supporting documentation for their disputes. As with all high-volume transaction environments, CSR’s work to process as many transactions per day as possible. Every keystroke and mouse click is measured. These actions relate to Average Call Handling time, which directly translates to cost of operations. Thus, $-Corp Call Center is a prime process candidate for reducing costs and improving the Average Call Handling time.
Repetitive Tasks Peppered Throughout Workflow
$-Corp Call Center utilizes a fully automated business process workflow to address the core functional requirements of their operations. Processing disputes involves repetitive tasks that must happen on every single transaction. Prior to harnessing the power of RPA, CSRs manually keyed dispute information into two systems: the CRM system (in this case Salesforce) and on multiple screens of a LOB application that is the system of record (Customer Dispute Information System, or CDIS). Although this aging technology and will be replaced with a proper CRM system at some point in the future, for now, the Call Center must utilize this custom developed front end user interface with an AIX database backend. This is where RPA has provided huge value.
RPA Leverages Existing ECM System
The initial Call Center solution utilizes the Enterprise Content Management system (ECM) infrastructure already in place to automate the processing of supporting documents submitted by the customer. An import utility is used to capture incoming electronic documents from an upload portal on $-Corp’s website and convert them to TIFF files using a format conversion tool. Advanced Capture is used to OCR these documents, as well as scanned paper letters, forms, etc. that are mailed in. Extracted information is then infused as metadata into the workflow process that CSRs use to work through disputes with customers. When the CSR completes a dispute transaction and submits the record into the CDIS system, ILINX automatically passes the data to Salesforce.
Let’s circle back to the repetitive tasks requiring CSRs to manually key information. Since this data has been electronically captured and extracted, RPA agents (or bots) are utilized to update the CRM and LOB systems and monitor the updates for failures. RPA technology takes a push of XML data from a Salesforce dispute record and inserts that data into the various screens in the CDIS interface. It then submits the record and returns transaction information back to Salesforce.
Keystrokes Cost Millions
The manual keying of that information into other systems, like $-Corp CSRs did before the bots took that task, can involve hundreds of keystrokes per case. It can also require specific formatting of the data. RPA addresses data formatting taking existing data from one source and apply it to another source, thus eliminating the possibility of human error when keying. By using RPA to execute the redundant and manual tasks, every single transaction, performed by hundreds of CSRs every day, shaves time off of the Average Call Handling time. In this environment, quickly completed transactions are king. The ROI, estimated by the Call Center staff for this solution, is significant. They expect to recoup the initial investment within year one.
Building Value on Top of Value
The RPA solution alone was a significant benefit to the Call Center operations. Yet, RPA provides exponential value when coupled seamlessly with existing workflows, and associated backend processes: onboarding of electronic and paper content, OCR technology, integrations, etc. These ECM technologies further enhance a comprehensive and PCI compliant solution that is easily scalable as $-Corp continues to grow. Scaling the RPA solution can be as simple as adding additional VDIs or adding additional server resources to the solution to address additional volume.
Because of the successful deployment in the Call Center, $-Corp is currently investigating additional business processes in multiple departments that will benefit from RPA. With such sizable reductions in operational expenses and rapid ROI, they are anxious to find other areas to leverage the RPA capabilities in the ILINX ECM stack to achieve significant information technology wins.