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Robotic Process Automation (RPA) might just be the droid your contact centre is looking for. It could help reduce errors and accelerate query resolution without requiring a complex software implementation or a custom development project.

The need for RPA in contact centres

Even the most modern, purpose-built contact centre is likely to rely on multiple systems to manage a wide range of customer queries. And this fragmentation is often the cause of delays, errors and frustration for agents and customers.

For example, a customer calling to query a duplicate payment and check their next bill might have to wait while an agent…

  • Confirms their identity using an ID&V system
  • Checks their payment history in an accounts system
  • Issues a refund via a payment system
  • Finds their current usage in a CRM system

Each of these changes between systems typically requires the agent to copy and paste the customer’s details – which is clumsy, slow and prone to errors.

What is robotic process automation (RPA)?

Until recently, if you wanted two applications to speak to each other, you could either ask a developer to write a custom script to interface with APIs, or you could use a screen-scraping tool to copy and paste information across.

The custom scripting option is slow and expensive, and prone to failure when one or both applications update. Screen scraping is a relatively basic technology that relies on screen locations to find and copy data. This approach can work well – until the location of a window, field or pop-up form changes – and the software fails.

Robotic process automation platforms are enterprise-ready software tools that watch users complete a task so the ‘robot’ can learn, and then repeat, a particular process.

Rather than require custom coding, RPA platforms can interpret actions performed on graphical user interfaces (GUIs) and then repeat them. This makes RPA tools ideal for non-technical users, who often find them to be a friendly companion that eliminates the most frustrating parts of their work – giving them more time to focus on helping customers.

Advantages of RPA in contact centres

It’s obvious that switching between systems is likely to introduce errors, slow down customer support requests and frustrate employees and customers alike. But what are the benefits of implementing an RPA platform in your call centre?

Improve accuracy. RPA can manage the flow of data between applications more securely, with fewer instances of the wrong data appearing in the wrong field.

Increase efficiency. RPA can improve the speed that your agents switch between applications and complete customer requests.

Rapid configuration. RPA tools are simple and easy to implement, and typically considered low-risk by IT.

Process automation. RPA can eliminate some of the common processes that your agents conduct, giving them more time to focus on value-adding activities and customer support.  

Employee empowerment. Because RPA platforms rely on GUIs, they are easy for employees to use, update and customise to suit their own uses.

Has your organisation tried RPA? If not, what barriers are preventing you from getting started?