As companies grow and scale up, processes that once seemed simple can become increasingly complex. Without efforts to grow those workflows to suit new levels of need, bottlenecks and poor results are often the outcome. These hazards are especially present in heavily hands-on work, such as support and supply chain management. Tools that enable robotic process automation, or RPA, will play a critical role in redefining how companies approach customer service.
That revolution has already arrived, and it's serving to help businesses address common pain points while driving toward better outcomes. Let's review those difficulties, explore what's behind this technology and see how you can apply it today.
Challenges Facing Today's Customer Service Teams
Today's CS teams have more tools than ever, but that's not always good. A complex technical environment for customer service teams can lead to slowdowns, errors and other difficulties. What are some of the key areas where automation could address common problems?
- High volume. The most common challenge, a steady volume of support requests, can overwhelm even dedicated teams.
- Complicated software systems and data silos. CS teams may need to waste time looking up customer records or updating information across multiple different platforms.
- After-hours support. Users may require support outside of business hours but may not have access to any kind of self-service utility.
- Long ticket times. Delays can lead to consumer frustration and poor outcomes.
- Unsatisfactory outcomes. Sometimes, even with a team's best efforts, a customer's problem might not be resolved or handled correctly. Human error, such as missing an important reminder, could be to blame.
AI and RPA, Defined
Before digging into how technology can reshape how you handle customer service, it's important to look at the technology itself. Understanding what RPA and AI are—and what they are not—is vital in developing a successful deployment. So, what are they?
Robotic process automation involves creating software "robots" that interact with computer systems in a human-like manner. This includes opening websites, clicking links, downloading files, moving or extracting data and much more. All robots built with this technology follow a defined set of rules, taking the same actions every time.
Artificial intelligence, however, is more dynamic and attempts to replicate human-like learning methods. AI and machine learning tools ingest data, use rules to understand the data and then make conclusions. These tools improve with time as they "learn" and self-correct. However, AI cannot interact directly with computer systems like RPA.
There exists a potent opportunity at this intersection: using AI to make conclusions, and executing those decisions with a software robot that knows which rules to follow based on the decision. This power makes RPA and AI so well-suited to emerging customer service applications.
How Can AI and RPA Improve Customer Service?
A platform such as Kofax RPA provides the ideal framework for creating a better customer service solution. This solution does more than just provide an intuitive environment for creating rules-based robots: you can also modify and extend it with solutions available in the Kofax Marketplace. Here, you can find both examples and ready-to-use solutions. Chief among these for customer service applications is an AI tool that uses natural language processing, or NLP.
With NLP, it's possible for an AI solution to analyze text from a customer and determine what kind of sentiments it expresses. The Natural Language Analysis Robot by Kofax Labs, available for free on the Marketplace, lets you integrate this functionality into your RPA platform. Let's consider an example.
A customer feedback message arrives through one of your channels. The system automatically ingests the data and passes the text to the analysis robot, which concludes, based on the content, that it is a complaint. It may further classify the details of the complaint, such as a missing order or a late shipment. With the sentiment decided, the AI can pass the decision results to a software robot.
Based on the content of the email, the robot can then route it to the right party for appropriate action, such as escalating the issue to immediate human review. In some cases, you could configure the robot to take more specific steps, such as updating a customer record. The intersection of RPA and AI with NLP is especially promising in self-service chatbots customers can use to carry out common tasks that would otherwise require human intervention.
The applications are immense and broad. RPA and AI are ideal for many industries, too. It's not hard to imagine a system set up for managing vendors in the supply chain or for manufacturers to respond better to client requests or concerns.
Are There Risks to Using These Tools?
No technology is a "silver bullet" that solves every problem or works flawlessly in 100% of situations. It's important to keep in mind that there are limitations to these tools. Understanding that automation exists to support human workers in achieving excellence is key, too. With that said, there are always some risks to know before using automation tools, such as:
- Poor implementation and training lead to a reversion to the status quo when teams reject changes.
- Improper configurations can lead to broken processes and error rates.
- Inadequate training can create incorrect or biased outputs from AI tools.
Proper planning and foresight make it simpler to mitigate these concerns. Always factor in extensive testing in pre-production environments before you take any new system live for your users and employees.
Get Started With Kofax Software and Marketplace Apps Today
Automating elements of customer service doesn't mean becoming impersonal or losing brand loyalty. On the contrary, you can solve common issues more quickly, route important requests to the right people, and improve how you engage with customers. With the opportunity to apply some of the same insights to supply chain and vendor management, there are exciting ways to improve your operations.
AI and RPA solutions in the Marketplace are your launchpad for improving your operations in these ways. Find out more about Kofax solutions for automation to get started or explore the Marketplace now to investigate what's possible. The chance to change the way you work is right around the corner.