Back office vs. front office: boost productivity between both offices

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An organization’s front and back office functions are fundamental to any great customer experience. That’s why it’s critical to keep both front and back office operations running smoothly and effectively. Yet, in many businesses, there is often some overlap and confusion over what defines the roles of a front office and back office, making it difficult to prioritize an area for greater efficiency and productivity. Have no fear, we’ll review the definitions of and use cases for the essential components of a business – the front office and the back office.

What is the front office?

The front office refers to the customer-facing section of a firm. For example, hotel receptionists, bank tellers, and other customer service and sales associates who directly interact with customers are considered part of an organization’s front office operations. Other front-office departments may include public relations, sales and marketing, and the contact center. Front office employees play an important role in communicating with customers and ensuring they’re satisfied with the product or service provided. Since customer satisfaction is mostly tied to the front office, this area is a significant revenue-driver for organizations.

What is the back office?

The back office represents the part of a company that is non-client facing, such as administration and support departments. The back office is sometimes used to describe jobs that don’t directly generate revenue. Don’t be fooled by the name, however. Even though the back office isn’t visible to customers, it provides many critical business functions including accounting, IT services, forms processing, claims adjudication, regulatory compliance, and more. Back-office employees enable and equip front-office employees to perform their client-facing duties and together, deliver an excellent customer experience.

How can the front and back office be automated intelligently?

Many front and back office functions are intertwined and directly impact each other. For instance, disorganized back office practices lead to slow responses and excessive rework that result in increased average handle time in the contact center and other errors that directly impact the operational efficiency of front office staff. This is where intelligent solutions that blend automated rules-based processing and human intervention can save time and deliver better outcomes.

For example, for those working in the front office, many customer interactions are high-volume and repeatable.  These kinds of support services can be handled in channels like chat, messaging, IVR and others that lend themselves to be easily automated. 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. A one-time password (OTP) option—a component of RPA—for instance, enables customers to authenticate their account without human assistance.

The OTP option is received by the user on a registered email address or cell phone to authenticate the transaction initiated by the customer in order to reset a password, authorize a financial charge on the card, or make an online payment. Attended RPA, meanwhile, is used to assist contact center associates to help them make better, quicker decisions when dealing with customers or administrative tasks.

Artificial intelligence is also providing back office productivity by freeing up employees on the operations side to work on complex and meaningful tasks while automation caters to the easier work. For example, as part of a review and audit process, a bot could input the details related to a transaction and a human checker will validate the entry. This can help reduce manual efforts by up to 50 percent.

The front and back office both represent essential functions that make up a business. Understanding how these areas intersect and how they can be optimized is critical for a business’s future success. And increasingly, a seamless integration of various front-end and back-end systems with automation and human intervention is the key to enabling greater efficiency, accuracy, and productivity than ever before.

More front office and back office resources

We hope you enjoyed this blog post looking at the front office vs back office, and the many ways that they work hand it hand. Here are additional resources about the front office and back office.

RPA Trends Report: Robotic process automation (RPA) has surged as companies look for ways to optimize processes and systems and deliver effortless customer experiences. Done right, companies can improve ROI from intelligent automation in the contact center in a short period of time. Read this white paper to discover research to support the positive economic impact that intelligent RPA creates for enterprises of all sizes.

4 best practices to redefine back office services – Here are four best practices around training, operations, quality assurance, and automation to create greater back office efficiency.

Digital transformation powered by RPA/RDA – Learn how a leading telecom improved the efficiency of its customer-facing and enterprise back-office operations.

Breaking down backlogs with back-office accuracy and speed – Here’s how an agile team cleared a health insurer’s report backlog in record time.

How to maximize your back office in 4 steps – Organizations that value customer experience know their back-office services provide invaluable support. In this tips and takeaways, learn how to implement continuous improvement in your back office business operations.