Robotic process automation (RPA) is transforming the way companies manage data and serve their customers. It is also increasingly being used as a highly effective way to boost efficiency and revenue at a time when remaining competitive is more important than ever.
A survey by Redwood Software found that more than 80 percent of IT business leaders reported robotic process automation as a key part of their digital transformation strategy. And nearly 60 percent of business processes could be partially or completely automated by RPA within the next three years.
But what exactly are the capabilities of the technology and what types of tasks fall under the banner of RPA? Let’s take a closer look at RPA and three key areas where it can be used to revolutionise your business.
While the name robotic process automation might conjure up images of robots on an assembly line, RPA is in fact far more related to software. It refers to any kind of software that utilises artificial intelligence technologies to perform basic tasks.
In most cases, the types of tasks it is used for and best suited to are tasks that are highly repetitive or time consuming for humans to perform. This provides a double benefit of being more cost effective, as well as freeing staff from mundane tasks so they can instead work on higher level or more strategic tasks.
COVID has elevated the demand for RPA, with many staff members being fragmented due to people working from home or away from the office. The ability to partially or fully automate rules-based actions has never been more important or beneficial for business success.
Regardless of which industry you operate in, sales is the backbone of the business. With operating conditions severely affected by COVID, companies need to do whatever possible to maintain revenues and keep costs associated with the sales process down. RPA is capable of transforming a wide range of sales related tasks, including data replication, invoice generation and delivery, and customer relationship management.
Many aspects of CRM and account keeping can now be completely automated by software robots. Virtual agents can provide customers with invoicing and real time information on purchasing, discounts, stock quantities, expenditure, and delivery information. Even if some aspects of these processes still need to be performed by humans, workflows can be optimised and the workload significantly reduced.
Customer service is an area that many companies do poorly even when allocating a large amount of resources to it. So the idea of improving customer service while reducing costs seems a little far-fetched. But collaboration between human and RPA services can greatly improve the customer experience, cut costs, and make work less stressful for staff.
Repetitive tasks such as making and updating customer interactions or triaging requests can be automated. This helps provide more up to date information on the entire customer base, ensures customers get directed to the right person to handle their request and results in shorter waiting times for customers. Enhancing front end automation capabilities can also improve customer service such that notifications are sent automatically when it’s time to follow up with customers or if a customer lodges an enquiry or complaint. Having these tasks completed by robots allows customer service staff to focus on complex customer issues and build better long term customer relationships.
One of the strong points of RPA is its ability to capture, process, and organise huge volumes of structured and unstructured data. Data manipulation is extremely time consuming for employees but can be done exceptionally well by software 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
In the modern digital age, the amount of both internal and external data available is growing exponentially. It is becoming essential for organisations to find ways to effectively harness this data and generate insights from it, and RPA is a vital part of this process. RPA can be used to identify which products are the best and worst performing, at what time of the year they are being sought out, and what kind of customer profiles are interested in which products and classes. This information is incredibly useful in boosting sales as well as gaining a better understanding of your customer base. RPA can also be used to identify hidden patterns and detail actionable tasks to optimise and improve your products and services.
The most accurate way to think of the utility of RPA isn’t to replace human roles - it's to complement them. But in the same way that it's incorrect to think of the future workforce just consisting of lines of robots, it’s also inaccurate to think that robots can replace all tasks. Even the mundane ones. Robots are never the whole solution and need to be carefully considered as to where they can be most effective and provide the greatest overall benefit.
RPA must be introduced with the support of IT staff as it can’t always be implemented in a “set and forget” fashion. Most RPA software still requires routine maintenance and continuous management to perform optimally. But when used properly, RPA can be extremely effective at enhancing your operations, boosting staff morale, and improving the experiences of your customers. If you’d like to find out more about how you can implement RPA in your business, talk to the experts at FinXL.