For as long as companies have been doing business, leaders in those organizations have looked for new and better ways to streamline workflow. Transactions are the lifeblood of a company, and in today's customer-centric business environment, that lifeblood inevitably flows through the agent or employee desktop. Advances in desktop and robotic automation are enabling companies of all sizes to offer services in ways not even considered a few years ago.
By optimizing how transactions take place across different areas of an organization, companies can transform how people, processes, and technology work together to increase revenue, reduce operational costs, drive employee engagement, and deliver a world-class customer experience.
Overcoming Typical Challenges
Enterprise transformation is the gradual evolution of how a company communicates and shares data internally. It is made up of many logical, incremental changes that improve business processes based around a business's needs and how management measures success.
Before an enterprise can begin to make those incremental changes, leadership must first look at how transactions take place within their organization. In the majority of enterprises today, most transactions take place on a computer desktop. Employees work in numerous systems and applications within the structure defined by the organization. Bottlenecks and inefficiencies often arise due to the inability of these different computer systems to share transactional data.
This lack of integration can manifest in many different ways, including prolonged process times, unnecessary copy and pasting, limited access to customer transaction data, inaccurate data entry, and a general breakdown in company processes and core business activities.
Once a company understands what needs to be changed, there is a simple four-step process that can help them achieve the goals outlined above.
Step One: Completely Eliminate Processes That Can Be Performed Using Robotic Automation
Every day, employees perform repetitive tasks that do not require any level of actual decision making. In addition to wasting their time, this monotony increases the chance of human error and lost revenue. Robotic automation can eliminate these tasks and ensure greater accuracy and recordkeeping. Eliminating these processes also frees up employees to perform more important tasks and spend more time on customer satisfaction and quality assurance, rather than simple data entry.
Additionally, automation solutions help accelerate transaction times, allowing for faster customer service, even when the company is experiencing major spikes in volume or in off hours. The result is fewer backlogs and more efficient operations.
Step Two: Automate Manual, Repetitive, and Redundant Tasks
The next step is to look at the other functions that would benefit from automation. Core business activities, such as documenting notes about customer service inquiries, copying and pasting data from one system to another, and countless other manual tasks can drive up call handle times, inflate transaction processing time, and increase the opportunity for errors. While these activities must be performed on the employee desktop, they can be fully automated.
This is accomplished by integrating disparate applications and creating automated end-to-end processes that make workers more productive while also improving the quality and accuracy of the transactions.
Step Three: Optimize Processes That Cannot Be Fully Automated
Once a company has exhausted all opportunities to automate employee functions, the next step is to take a critical look at everything else the employees do and how they can be optimized using automation.
A few simple questions can help identify these areas:
- How are employees using applications to gather the information they need to “work” the transaction?
- Is a human decision actually required? If so, what are the activities that lead up to the point in which a decision must be made?
- Does the employee have the information necessary to efficiently process the transaction?
- Are there steps in the process that could introduce opportunities for error?
By taking this approach, a company can identify any remaining opportunities to improve efficiencies. Desktop automation can help shape the activities that lead to the point at which the employee must exercise a "decisioning" activity and automate micro-activities.
The best example of this is the adoption of 360 customer views—consolidating user interfaces and data points from disparate applications into a single screen. Having a comprehensive view of the customer's information empowers employees and enables them to engage customers with deeper, higher-valued activities.
Step Four: Extend the Value of Existing Technology Investments
The final step is to build extensible business logic that improves transaction quality companywide. For example, automation technology can guide customer service agents through complex transactions and deliver "next best action" recommendations for more effective upselling.
Intelligent guidance delivered to the contact center agent at critical moments can significantly improve average revenue per transaction, reduce training time and costs, and ensure compliance to key industry regulations. Additionally, having better customer intelligence enables employees to provide more accurate information faster and more efficiently.
By following these four steps, an enterprise can dramatically improve its customer satisfaction scores while reducing its cost per transaction. Furthermore, this can all be accomplished without disrupting current work processes or requiring extensive training. Automation solutions—whether desktop or robotic—represent a major leap forward in the evolution of transaction and data management within an enterprise.
Anna Convery is executive vice president, strategy, and oversees global market development and strategic initiatives for OpenSpan, an industry pioneer in automation technologies that support transformation initiatives focused on driving revenue growth, customer lifetime value and operational efficiency. She can be reached at info AT openspan.com