Not all Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is designed to replace your human workforce. Attended mode RPA helps employees to optimise their productivity and customer interactions – and doesn’t necessarily lower your headcount.
Recent Forrester insight into the value of attended mode RPA highlights the benefit of front office automation, enhancing the capabilities of your workforce rather than necessarily replacing them.
While unattended mode bots complete tasks without the need for human input – and potentially render roles obsolete – attended mode bots are supplementary. As contact channels and customer interactions increase, organisations are using attended mode RPA to keep up with volume and deliver better service.
5 ways to benefit from attended mode RPA
- Gather customer data with minimum effort
- Target interactions based on behaviours
- Surface the right knowledge at the right time
- Automate navigation and integration of systems
- Free up your workforce for value-add tasks
The rise of attended mode bots
The Forrester insight refers to ‘superagents’ – customer contact specialists skilled in working with RPA to train quickly. They operate at high levels by benefiting from the subject knowledge and customer insight that attended bots can provide on demand.
Take Matt Radwell’s job transformation at Aylesbury Vale District Council. 40% of the inquiries he responds to are supported by ‘machine learning’: artificial intelligence that presents operatives with the pre-written responses estimated to be most helpful. Matt gauges the suitability of the content and is able to provide quick and appropriate customer service.
In Matt’s words, “I wouldn’t say it’s put my job at risk – it’s made my job better.”
A recent Computer Weekly feature with John Lewis explores how automation has saved around £5m so far and ‘has freed up staff to do more value-add and rewarding work’. The John Lewis Partnership plans to increase RPA across HR, buying & merchandising, online retail and contact operations – as an “automation journey from a productivity angle,” not simply or only to reduce headcount.
So how do you know which processes to automate? The key is to use service orchestration to ensure that work goes to the right worker, whether that’s a bot, a person or a hybrid of the two.
The impact of RPA on employment rates
RPA is underway and the threat to human jobs has been widely reported – yet unemployment rates in the UK and US are the lowest they have been in around 50 years.
A recent study states that 200,000 US banking jobs could be lost to AI in the next decade, across call centres, local branches and back offices. Additionally, a new Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco study shows the portion of national income that goes to US workers has been reduced – in part by automation – from 63% to 56% in the last 20 years. The study suggests ‘that without automation, the labour share would have stayed around 59.5% at the end of 2018’.
However, the low unemployment rates suggest that RPA has not yet had the predicted impact – and the reason for this may be the rise of attended mode bots. While these bots take over some of the more repetitive tasks humans would normally spend time on, this freed up capacity may not necessarily result in redundancy. Instead, that capacity could be put towards higher priority projects in your business – particularly as new technologies and customer channels emerge in the coming years – or simply towards further growing your customer bases.
The impact of both unattended and attended mode RPA on an organisation’s productivity is clear to see. Yet the rise in attended mode RPA in particular may help to prevent some of the bleaker employment predictions. It may also make automation easier for your workforce to embrace – as much a potential for enhancement as a risk to their job role.
Time to get ahead
In our recent (and most popular) blog, we explored how 2020 will be the year of RPA at scale. The Forrester insight reflects this; ‘only 13% of organisations report that their workforce optimisation practices have been impacted by RPA, and this is sure to grow.’ To become automated now, on or ahead of the wave, will be hugely lucrative. To have to catch up to your competitors later would be a huge risk.
Are you ready to benefit from service orchestration – optimising processes across a human, AI and hybrid workforce? Enate’s service orchestration platform enables you to do just that.
It’s true that selling the benefits of automation to your workforce may be a challenge if they perceive a threat to their employment. That’s where the rise of attended mode RPA will help you to demonstrate the supplementary benefits for your staff as individuals, as well as for your organisation’s efficiency and continued success.
4 Forrester tips on using RPA to make customer service more effective
- RPA won’t necessarily reduce headcount - it will make your agents more effective
- RPA will focus agents on tasks that impact customer relationships
- RPA will make workplaces more attractive for new superagents
- RPA will affect workforce planners’ ability to forecast and schedule agents