What are bots doing and where are they used?
When people talk about robots, machine learning and artificial intelligence, many still think of faraway future scenarios. But digital and process automation through software robots have long since become part of our everyday lives. We just do not notice it at times. Higher transparency might help to increase the acceptance of bots in everyday life.
Automation is nothing negative
In everyday life, many people find it difficult to accept interaction with machines as part of modern society. Even recorded announcements on the phone are considered unacceptable by some. Yet machine sorting of enquiries helps the subsequent customer conversation to be handled quickly and efficiently. Although this example is not actually RPA, it illustrates the resistance in society and shows why bots are still hidden as much as they are today.
Customer experience with chat bots
Particularly in the e-commerce sector, customer management eats up enormous resources. Customer enquiries, complaints and order processes are piling up even for small providers. The (semi-)automated response to enquiries is therefore a trend that end customers are experiencing more and more. Today, anyone who wants to find out about an electricity provider, wants to sign a new DSL contract or is just looking for a stylish leather jacket is greeted and attended to by the always available and always friendly software customer advisor via a pop-up chat window. The quality of the conversations has already reached an incredible level, since the chat bots learn new things with every conversation.
RPA solutions also benefit the customer
Let’s stay with the topic of customer experience. As already mentioned, this area is very resource-hungry in a company and kept many employees occupied until a few years ago. With software robots, however, many of these processes can be automated and thus made more efficient without decreasing customer satisfaction. On the contrary: smart software implementations often even result in an increase in customer satisfaction. Here are two examples from everyday life.
First example: Processing of submissions to private health insurances
Whereas in the past each individual settlement of a receipt for doctor’s visits or medicines had to be processed manually, nowadays this is done by software in most cases. The initial difficulty was to make the many different forms and documents readable for the machines. The solution is often called optical character recognition (OCR). A software reads the characters from a scan or photo of the medical bill and translates the document into a standard format that can be interpreted by standard RPA bots. Certain recurring parameters then lead to a quick reimbursement or, in case of problems, to a referral to a human employee.
For end customers, this has simplified the submission process enormously. Instead of running to the post box with copies and receipts, all that is needed today is a photo taken via an app on the smartphone. If the submission has no special features, it is not uncommon for processing and reimbursement to take place within a few days. In the past, the receipt would just flutter across the mailroom to the clerk’s desk within this period of time.
Second example: Tracking of shipments
Today, tracking and tracing ordered parcels and packages is a matter of course for us. However, the process running in the background is not that simple. Often, a lot of data from different sources has to be brought together – especially when hauliers are involved as third parties. RPA bots can analyse and process this data and feed it into the warehouse management system of the transport company. In turn, websites are connected to this, where the customer can check the status of his order around the clock and constantly updated. Even the pizza ordered can be meticulously tracked.
As you can see, robot solutions and process automation have long since arrived in the centre of society, even outside of industry and production chains. It is now a matter of breaking down fears of contact and showing that bots are not a threat per se if they are used for the benefit of the company and the customer alike. That, too, is a task for all the players involved.
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