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RPA Solution at Call Center Improves Service and Pays for Itself in a Year

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.

Why RPA isn’t just trendy

It seems like RPA, or Robotic Process Automation, is all the rage in innovation circles, but ultimately its true benefit is defined by its ability to add value to your company. But how does RPA benefit you? And at what cost?
As leaders in business process automation since 1994, we would love to share insight on Robotic Process Automation.
While seemingly a buzzword, RPA adds value to your organization by automating processes typically performed by employees, while increasing accuracy and minimizing processing time. This is not only possible for one application or process, but can span multiple applications as necessary, including desktop apps, email, Excel, terminal emulators, databases, and more.
There is measurable value to be gained through the addition of Robotic Process Automation systems. To start, it is estimated that 30% of current technology jobs will be replaced with Robotic Process Automation systems by the year 2025 (whatisrpa.com 2017). This means that your organization is currently spending time and money to complete processes and tasks that can and will be replaced in the near future. The bigger picture is that these processes aren’t just replaced by RPA, but they are actually improved and streamlined.
RPA implementation has many benefits beyond just automation. It delivers increased accuracy, leading to up to a 40% reduction in time spent and saves 30% of the typical costs associated with completing processes (whatisrpa.com). These robots also work 24 hours a day with no breaks, freeing up your workforce to direct their efforts elsewhere.
Now, this all sounds great for business, but how difficult is the implementation of Robotic Process Automation?
To start, ILINX automation tools have a small learning curve and a very intuitive user interface. In addition, choosing to implement ILINX, which provides a robust and customizable RPA system, means you have the ImageSource team to aid you in the deployment of your Robotic Process Automation system to ensure that you and your robotics implementation are successful.
So, if you want to be on the cutting edge of innovation while saving your organization time and money, visit ImageSource.com or ILINX.com today.
Jack Weakly, Marketing
ImageSource, Inc

Access & Hearing Requests at WSDOT— ILINX Enables Rapid Implementation


Richard Norrell, Washington State Department of Transportation

The staff of the WSDOT Access & Hearing office approached the ECM team to discuss a possible solution for a paper based process they had where external customers would submit documents to them requesting access to WSDOT property. The Access & Hearing staff needed a way to control and track these requests and the paper process was just not able to meet their needs any longer. The ECM engineers met with the business to go over their specifications and discuss possible solutions for the Access & Hearing office.

ILINX Capture Workflow flowchart

Utilizing a blended ILINX Capture, ILINX Content Store, and the WSDOT ECM Portal, a solution was provided that not only meets their immediate needs but also allows them to comply with future requirements such as audit, public disclosure, and retention management requirements.

In this solution, users from various offices throughout WSDOT will be able to submit their documents using the drag-and-drop features of the ILINX Capture client. Once documents are submitted an email is sent to the Access & Hearing office, notifying them of the submission.

From there the Access & Hearing staff will index the documents and forward them to the staff responsible for reviewing and providing the Approval or Denial of the request.

Once final determination is made the workflow will provide notification to the office requesting the access and also release the documents where they will then be available to WSDOT staff and trusted partners.

One of the additional challenges for this solution arises when the request for Access relates to a project that does not yet exist. The Access & Hearing administrators needed a way to create the necessary project related information. For this a simple administration panel was built in the WSDOT ECM Portal.

 

Project Admin Panel

This panel will keep track of all current and previous projects that have been submitted to the Access & Hearing office. The data created with this project is used as a lookup in the ILINX Capture process to ensure the documents are associated with the correct project.

ILINX Content Store Search Panel

After the documents have been indexed, and stored in ILINX Content Store, the requestor will receive a notification email indicating that the document is available in the ECM system, this email will include a link to retrieve the documents from ILINX Content Store. Users can also search for documents via an ILINX Content Store saved search exposed through the ECM Portal.

So in the end, the ILINX solution provides the ability for the Access & Hearing staff to eliminate their paper based process and at the same time gives them the ability to quickly store their documents in a manner that meets both the immediate needs as well as other regulatory requirements such as Auditing, Retention Management and Public Disclosure.

The initial phase of this project was implemented rapidly. It included the requirements gathering, prototype build, review and approval of prototype, build of solution in Quality Assurance environment, QA testing, several iterations of change, a move to the Production the Environment, and finally Production testing. The time spent by IT on this project was just over 80 hours. Now that the business has their initial process in place we can rapidly expand their capabilities.

Effortlessly Configure SSL Offload in ILINX for Processing & Security Gains

Recently, I had the opportunity to configure a system in network load balanced configuration for ILINX Content Store and ILINX Capture systems. There was a separate virtual IP address (VIP) for each service (ILINX Content Store and ILINX Capture) and two servers assigned to each VIP. Additional modules, ILINX Capture Format Converter and ILINX Release, resided on the capture servers.

The exact nature of the configuration is not critical for this discussion. What we want to focus on is how easy it is to configure SSL offload in this sort of scenario. SSL offload is a configuration—typically involving a load balancer—where HTTPS (SSL/TLS) communication is terminated at the network device and the network device forwards the communication as HTTP. There are both performance and security benefits for this configuration.

So how do ILINX Content Store, ILINX Capture and associated modules handle this? We will focus on ILINX Content Store first, where there are two main components to the application: the server-side component in the WCF folder and the client-side component in the WebClient folder. The configuration is easy; leave the server-side components in regular HTTP mode and configure the client-side as HTTPS—that’s it. For normal HTTPS (SSL/TLS) configuration, you would follow the instructions for both server and client to communicate in HTTPS. For SSL offload, configure just the client for HTTPS.

ILINX Capture is configured exactly the same as its counterpart. There is one caveat though: there are client bindings in the server-side WCF/web.config for additional modules (ConvertBatchBinding, ReleaseBatchBinding and RecognitionBinding). Those need to have the <security mode=”Transport” /> tag added so that the workflow engine knows to communicate in HTTPS from the IXM’s that utilize those services if those IXM modules are used.

The additional modules—ILINX Format Converter and ILINX Release—do not need to be modified in any way. They do not include client components and remain in OOB HTTP configuration.

As always, if you have questions, get a hold of our support team and they can point you in the right direction.

Mike Peterson
Systems Engineer

How WSDOT Leverages ILINX Workflow for Auto-Matching Vouchers & Receipts


Richard Norrell, Washington State Department of Transportation

Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has a lot of processes where transaction documents are created in a system, printed, processed then scanned into the Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system for search and Retention Management. In addition to these documents, there are summary reports that are produced, and in the old days these reports were manually verified to confirm that each transaction document referenced was actually processed and captured in the ECM. Sometimes it would take several days or even weeks for the various geographically dispersed offices of the agency to get the paper documents processed and scanned, so the manual matching process had to be repeated on a daily basis until all documents were present. With the implementation of the new ILINX Capture system this process is now completely automated, only requiring human intervention if documents fail to show up after a designated grace period. Here are some screen shots and explanations of how it all works for the newest implementation, Payment Vouchers.


The ILINX Capture Workflow

The main section of the workflow, shown above, handles the scanning, indexing and processing of the Payment Vouchers and routing of the Register reports into the Register Subflow. 

The Register Subflow is where the matching process takes place. This process uses two custom Server Extension ILINX Extension Modules (IXM). The first Server Extension (Parse RAM 0051) takes the Summary Report and parses it into individual rows in a Line Item table. Each line is a reference to one or more documents that require matching. The second Server Extension (RAM Auto Match) reads through the entries in the Line Item table and conducts a search for documents that match the Line Item reference. When documents are found they are updated indicating the Line Item that they match and then the Line Item itself is updated to indicate it has been matched to the documents. After the Auto-Matching is attempted the workflow checks to see if all the Line Items were matched or if the prescribed number of cycles has been attempted. Based on these checks the Register batch will either go into the Pending Match Cycle queue, the Warrant Manual Match queue, or Complete the subflow.

Here is what the actual summary report looks like: As you can see it could be pretty tedious to sit and manually match each of these lines to the documents they represent in the system.

Should a manual review be necessary, a Workflow Form is used. On this form, workflow fields are shown that keep track of how many documents are referenced in each summary report. At a quick glance, the user can see how many documents have been matched, how many are missing and the number of times the workflow has attempted to do the matching process.

The table on the left side of the form shows the documents that have been previously matched, indicated by the padlock icon, and the remaining documents that are available for matching. The table on the right shows all of the documents that are referenced in the report. If manual matching is desired, the user simply selects a document in the left table, not already matched, and presses the Match button on the corresponding line on the right table.

WSDOT has now automated the process of matching several business areas including Payment Vouchers, Journal Vouchers and Cash Receipts. Once documents are matched, the properties on the documents can be used creating a cross reference to the summary report. Also, using the Full Text capabilities of ILINX Content Store, users are now able to research both the summary report information and their corresponding documents without having to return to the source system. In this case, the source system is a mainframe application so the users are really loving that little side benefit.

If you are interested in more details of how these processes work, please contact ImageSource.

Richard Norrell is a Senior ECM Systems Engineer at Washington State Department of Transportation in Olympia, WA. He was instrumental in helping them move from Oracle IPM and Kofax to ILINX technologies for migration, capture, workflow, repository, retention management and COLD processing.

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