Workforce Optimization Featured Article

Workforce Optimization Now Includes Chat Bots

April 17, 2017

There are few areas of business that aren’t seeing major changes happening today thanks to robotic process automation (RPA), or “bots.”  The technology allows for the configuration of computer software (bot) to capture and interpret existing applications that can automate the processing of a transaction. In the contact center, “chat bots” are becoming the go-to technology for customer self-service.

According to a recent blog post by Tom Tobin, Senior Automation Specialist for NICE, some are considering bot technology to be an element of the second industrial revolution.

“Robotic automation is worth taking a hard look at, not only because it is changing the world but also because it can do great things for your contact center,” he wrote. “Just as importantly, it’s turbocharging your competitors: Nearly three quarters of companies are planning to automate labor functions or have already begun automating low-level work, according to a recent survey.”

While bot technology may still be evolving, there are several ways it can help in the contact center today.

In the automation of common tasks. Contact center work is very task-oriented, and many of those tasks can delay the resolution of transactions between agent and customer. By automating some of them using bot technology, contact centers can eliminate some low-level manual tasks for both agents and managers, and leave them with more time to focus on providing high-quality customer support.

For cost savings. By eliminating the need for humans to perform low-level tasks, companies can save significant money, according to Tobin.

“RPA lowers labor expenses (think dollar cost averaging, not FTE cuts) by enabling your agents and back-office teams to optimize their time doing higher-value work, rather than wasting minutes and hours on routine, mindless tasks,” he wrote. “In a review of IT outsourcing services, researchers found that productivity and profits rose significantly in organizations that implemented automation.”

In workforce optimization. Agents who are bogged down with low-level tasks quickly become bored and burn out. By removing rote tasks from their day, agents will be able to problem-solve with customers more and spend less time acting…well, like robots.

To improve self-service. Customers today are looking for twenty-first century approaches to self-service, which means they’re not looking for the IVR of decades ago. Most Americans carry smartphones and use them intensively to chat and text. Bots can be configured to chat – hence the name “chat bots” – and solve customer problems on the spot using natural language. A customer could ask a hotel chat bot for towels, and the chat bot could alert housekeeping staff. A passenger could ask an airline chatbot for an upgrade, and the chat bot could check availability and process the transaction right from the mobile app. It’s a far more natural option than dialing into an IVR and listening to a laundry list of choices, none of which may apply to the caller.

To increase scalability. It’s hard to scale human workforces up and down, but easy with chatbots.

“There’s no risk in adding more of them, and they deploy faster than any human can,” wrote Tobin. “They save money, too: Robots ramp up your capacity without the normal cost associated with staffing up.”

Going forward, it’s distinctly possible that workforce optimization in the contact center will involve optimizing more than humans. But there’s an extra bonus: chat bots will never call out sick. 

Edited by Alicia Young
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