Demystifying RPA (Robotic Process Automation) in a Contact Centre World


by Michelle Seanor

What is RPA?

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) automates mundane, repetitive tasks and processes. RPA allows machines to be programmed to perform a wide range of tasks and functions that a Customer Service Agent would otherwise complete. 

RPA solutions can be designed to eliminate or support manual activity with the aim of increasing efficiency, accuracy and quality control. When implemented correctly, the impact is a far smoother experience for the customer.

There are options when it comes to RPA.

Integrated or unattended RPA is simply the use of software robots to perform repetitive and manual tasks that humans would otherwise perform. It requires the automation of the entire process in a consistent manner, with no human intervention required. Businesses can automate operations and free up resources that would otherwise be used to complete these tasks. Automation can run 24 hours a day 7 days a week, compared to an agent’s working day.

Interactive or attended RPA is where a robot assists a human in interacting with applications, systems and personnel to improve efficiency and accuracy with a process. This reduces processing time and allows the Customer Service Agent to interact with their customer whilst the robot performs the repetitive task. 

RPA can access information from any connected database, manipulate it and present it in a format that is more user-friendly / requires less training to understand. Additionally, RPA can utilise AI and Machine Learning to gain more insight, helping identify trends and areas for process improvement.

There are numerous misconceptions associated with RPA causing many organisations to be hesitant to implement it.

The Myths surrounding RPA

RPA: Is it invasive?

Automating your processes does not have to be invasive. Most RPA tools have two approaches to delivering process automation.

  • Acting as an agent – this is literally acting as a human agent, logging on and performing process tasks exactly as an agent would.
  • API integration – if you have existing API’s then most RPA tools can connect through your existing services.

RPA: Worth the investment?

RPA can feel like an expensive outlay, but our experience tells us that it’s the approach to implementation that is key to delivering a return on your investment above that in your business case!

We have optimised our own implementation process to ensure initial investment is minimised and future investment is on the back of successful deployments.

RPA: Managing RPA is complex.

Numerous organisations have built in-house RPA teams and are suffering from the impact of a growing capability and the average tenure of that team – especially team lead, is reducing year on year.

To counteract this significant risk, we have built a managed service model to guarantee service standards and are significantly more cost-effective than an internal team.

RPA: It’s just about reducing headcount?

In essence, RPA simply helps increase productivity, accuracy and efficiency in the business process. Automating repetitive, manual human tasks frees employees for more engaging, strategic and creative tasks. RPA can help organisations stay competitive in a continually changing landscape, enabling businesses to refocus resources and time on essential value add activity. 

RPA: It’s never fully utilised?

We have worked with many organisations that implemented RPA as early adopters, but they still needed to realise the true value of RPA in their toolbox. 

The optimum model for maximising your investment in RPA is to have a process management team separate from but working closely with the RPA configuration team. The most productive process teams can focus on continually optimising processes via re-engineering / CIP but need to understand the capability/limitations of RPA. The best RPA configuration teams focus on the robots’ capability, uptime and systems integrations/interactions.

Why our recommended approach is different

We don’t just implement RPA; we know how to continually enable you to get value out of your investment and how to resource your RPA delivery model. We work with you to understand your business and processes and what improvements you can attain by bringing RPA into play. 

Why Process Optimisation before Automation?

Optimising business processes before implementing RPA helps ensure organisations don’t just rely on RPA as the miracle cure – automating an inefficient process is in-efficient in itself! Our goal is to use RPA in the most efficient way. 

More importantly, optimising processes also helps to reduce costs associated with the implementation of automation. 

From our experience, if a process has not been re-engineered for three years, we can typically reduce the processing time by 10-15% whilst identifying where RPA can deliver further savings. We then see RPA typically reducing process time (when assisting an agent) by 15-30%.


How we approach it!

We believe for an organisation to realise the potential and return of process optimisation, RPA is essential to always carry out a proof of concept, taking one process re-engineering it and then automating it so as an organisation, you can see the benefit.

Our process is simple.

Step 1: Assess the “as is” process landscape to understand the % improvement opportunity

Step 2: Identify a process for POC

Step 3: Develop a Business Case

Step 4: Develop an Implementation plan/delivery structure

Step 5: Implement the plan and realise the savings and accuracy improvements!

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