At first glance, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) doesn’t sound like a tool that could help augment the human touch. There is nothing particularly “human” about robots, processes, or even automation. But as we’ll explain in this post, RPA can actually be a great tool for organizations to deliver a more human experience to their customers.
RPA Can Alleviate the Strain of Worker Shortages
For decades, there have been concerns about dystopian futures in which robots have taken all human jobs and human workers are simply obsolete. The current labor market shortage illustrates how far we continue to be from such a future.
Instead, companies large and small around the world are struggling to keep enough workers to
manage even their most fundamental tasks: airlines are canceling flights because of a lack of pilots,
restaurants can’t open some days because of staffing shortages, and customers who are lucky
enough to find a restaurant or retail store that has enough staff to open for the day tend to find they’re facing long waits and often experience poor customer service.
None of these outcomes reflect an ideal human touch for customers.
RPA can’t necessarily meet all of any company’s staffing needs, but it can help alleviate the worker shortage by taking over some of the work performed by humans, leaving others to spend more time with customers.
RPA Frees Up Resources for Higher-Level Work
While RPA might not be quite ready to joke around with customers at a fun restaurant, the work that RPA is already well-suited and heavily used for is even more valuable in the context of a division of labor.
That’s because RPA is a great tool for the kinds of work humans hate performing and that humans are – quite frankly – not great at it. Think about routine, repetitive, boring tasks like data entry, reconciling financial documents, logging customer phone calls, etc. These are tasks that are prone to human error in addition to simply being tedious and contributing to burnout, poor morale, and turnover. Turning these tasks over to RPA not only frees up the time of human workers to spend more time interacting with customers; it also tends to make employees happier, more engaged, and more motivated, precisely because their work is more rewarding when they can skip the tedium.
Leveraging Customer Data
Imagine calling into a bank’s customer service line (or a government agency, or an airline, or any other a large organization that fields high call volumes) and not only speaking to a real person but a real person who already knows your name, your account number, and the details of your last call or visit.
RPA is great for managing data, including keeping detailed records of customer information that human customer service representatives can pull up on short notice. RPA can even be combined with other tools like artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) to collect information from customers directly or to record the conversation between a customer and an employee to process and document those key details.
Humans forget things when they’re stressed, busy, and overloaded. Computers are far better at remembering, and that includes things like following up with customers. These follow-ups could include checking in a few days after a customer interaction to get customer feedback, sending a reminder about an upcoming appointment, or simply saying thank you for the customer’s business. These communications don’t even need to involve a human at all. They could be entirely automated and generated as text messages or emails to the customer, creating a sense of human touch without any human involvement.
The first time one hears the idea, it might sound like an ironic joke to suggest that RPA could be a useful tool for augmenting the human touch in businesses, but that’s absolutely true. This doesn’t mean RPA should replace the human touch; it means that RPA and humans have capabilities that complement each other very well, to the great benefit of customers. While RPA tracks customer touch points and records the details without error, human staff can build rapport with the customer. While human staff brainstorm ways to boost customer loyalty, RPA can be busy sending out automated thank you notes for recent purchases. Particularly in the era of worker shortages, RPA can make a world of difference for companies struggling to keep their doors open, let alone deliver a pleasant customer experience.
Who says high-tech technology can’t help companies boost their high-touch operations and customer engagement? Ready to learn more about how you could use RPA to improve customer service and customer connections? Get in touch to learn more about NITCO’s RPA solutions.