Automation is a natural fit in the contact center and across the customer experience. A customer journey touches many different touchpoints—some customer-facing and some in the back office. Many customer interactions are high-volume and repeatable, which can be done in channels like chat, messaging, IVR and others that lend themselves to be easily automated. And those automations have proven to result in some impressive ROI while also boosting customer experience metrics.
Automated bots work best with simple, repeatable interactions. Reducing human dependency along these parts of the customer journey helps to drive down costs and errors while at the same time increase process compliance and interaction speed. Unattended Robotic Process Automation (RPA) removes humans completely to speed up efficiencies and makes contact center agents available for more complex customer centric interactions. Attended RPA, meanwhile, is used to assist associates to help them make better, quicker decisions when dealing with customers or administrative tasks.
Each of these RPA applications has tremendous upside. McKinsey & Co. found that companies that automate 50-70% of a task see average results including:
- 20-35% annual cost reduction
- 50-60% process time reduction
- Return on investment “most often” in triple-digit percentages
Further research conducted by Forrester on behalf of Pegasystems found significant process and people benefits. A typical organization “realizes benefits of $34.9 million over three years versus costs of $12.2 million, adding up to a net present value (NPV) of $22.7 million and an ROI of 186%.” The benefits include a mix of quantifiable and intrinsic benefits to customers and to how business gets done.
Process ROI from contact center automation
Forrester researched many process benefits of automation in the contact center. Overall, brands decrease end-to-end process time after automating steps within a process. Processes are conducted faster and with higher volume and fewer errors. It increases improvement times and create better efficiencies, reduces costs and employee effort, and has sizeable financial impact. Below are some examples of process benefits:
Streamlined back-office capacity -- $11.1 million
Within a three-year implementation, Forrester found approximately 175 back-office hires could be avoided by deploying unattended RPA to complete back-office processes. By leveraging unattended RPA for these tasks and processes, organizations can suspend hiring for the back office and reallocate personnel to other value-adding tasks within the organization. This move saves typical clients $11.1 million, Forrester noted.
Fewer errors and rework -- $10.9 million
According to Forrester, putting guardrails on certain tasks and processes with attended RPA and fully automating some processes via unattended RPA reduced error rates and rework rates among users by up to 15%. That translates into nearly $11 million in savings over three years.
Long-term automation resiliency
By investing in a hybrid of both attended and unattended RPA solutions, companies reported a higher ROI per automation. Less-costly attended RPA automations stay in production for longer periods of time compared to fully unattended efforts, because there are humans continuously interacting and refining processes for ongoing efficacy and improvement. Unattended RPA efforts can be applied to static back-office tasks and processes that don’t change and can run over the long term with little intervention.
Automation of revenue-affecting processes
Automating processes that generate or optimize revenue—such as those related to upsell/cross-sell, collections, or renewals—can significantly improve the speed and volume of revenue-related work. In Forrester’s research, multiple interviewees discussed a positive impact of automation on revenue-impacting workstreams.
Reduced training costs
Attended RPA serves as a virtual guide for users to conduct their daily activities and reduces the need for training. Automation makes tasks more intuitive, and inherently improves error rates.
People ROI from contact center automation
There are also significant benefits to employees and customers as well. Forrester found that experiences become more effortless and lead to impressive quantifiable benefits. They include:
Employee productivity savings -- $12.9 million
Users with attended RPA solution are more productive in their day-to-day responsibilities as repetitive tasks within processes are automated, reducing the length of the processes overall. This means that users can do more with the time they have in each day. Forrester calculated the user productivity savings to reach $12.9 million over three years.
Improved employee experiences
Employees that spend more time on true knowledge work and solving customer issues are happier and stay with the company longer. By automating mundane tasks, it gives employees more time to do the more interesting and valuable work. Anecdotally, this drives increased
employee retention rates and reduce attrition, Forrester reported.
Improved customer experiences
Automation plays a big part in creating effortless customer experiences that drive loyalty and advocacy. Forrester stated that in certain customer-facing, error-prone processes, a reduction of errors from automation leads to an inherent reduction of customer frustration.
Real-world contact center automation examples
Unattended RPA -- A global telecommunications provider wanted to improve cost efficiency in its contact center without risking the quality of the customer experience. After automating just four call-related processes, the company saw results immediately. Within four weeks, the client reduced the average time to complete the four selected processes by 59% and average handle time (AHT) decreased by 5.2%.
Attended RPA -- A government housing ministry had a disconnected sales experience that made it difficult to track information and manage systems for citizens who wanted a home. TTEC introduced attended RPA to integrate various sales applications into a single screen. Salespeople could streamline appointments and housing information without switching from screen to screen. The sales process decreased by 80%, from 2 days to 10 hours or less. In addition, there was a 26% increase in number of units booked
How to move the ROI needle
Organizations can take swift action to generate ROI from contact center automation. Look for quick wins on the low- hanging fruit opportunities all across your customer-facing processes. Rapid implementation that show results will build momentum and encourage the organization to keep on moving forward.
Once automated processes are already in place, you can add ongoing intelligence and insight to take your customer experience to the next level, which will also open the doors to create additional value from your customers through next-best-action strategies and continuously improve the customer experience.