How is RPA a customer service differentiator for banks?

By Steve Morgan, Global Banking Industry Lead at Pegasystems

“Increasingly, companies in the financial sector are adopting enterprise transformation strategies to improve customer experience and profitability while reducing cost to serve. As the sector is under tremendous pressure to meet the rising service expectations of customers and has had to deal with the pandemic, it is imperative that banks work faster and more efficiently by simplifying and automating business processes and transactions.

For some time, banks have recognized the advantages of Robotic Process Automation (RPA). What is becoming more apparent is how RPA has gained ground over its initial reputation as a narrow purely tactical solution, allowing the sector to create flexible ways to wholly automate routine steps in specific IT systems to reduce tedious manual tasks where there are ambiguous decision points. Automation is at its best when underlying processes are transformed to add new value and so it’s increasingly desirable to have a wider framework that can support this type of transformational intelligent automation.

RPA can assist customer service agents by, for example, automatically logging in to applications and ordering them in a way that helps agents navigate efficiently when serving customers. Removing these rather simple but frustrating sources of friction can increase speed-to-outcome by allowing employees to focus on the customers rather than the applications.

What’s more, RPA can also offer a foundation for improving key customer service metrics. Using RPA and desktop analytics in conjunction with CRM, BPM, and service desk applications can also facilitate streamlined visibility and accountability to outcomes. However, this is where automation is best – where it is built into the end-to-end solution rather than layered on top. To really differentiate using automation, the full customer and employee experience need to be transformed.

So what does this look like in practice?

One international bank turned to RPA to solve a specific issue during the pandemic. There was a huge volume of customers seeking to skip mortgage payments. The customer service teams could not process this spike of requests in a timely manner.

The bank turned to automation in order to clear the growing backlog of customer requests and deliver a scalable solution that blended full automation alongside personal assistance when needed. It used RPA to automate the backlog of customers requesting to defer payments. This enabled them to process 6,300 end-to-end requests from a total of 10,000 requests over two days; and the initial backlog of requests was cleared in just five days.

This example illustrates the practical benefits of adopting RPA. However, many organizations report difficulties with their RPA deployments.

In an international study of over 500 enterprises using RPA commissioned by Pegasystems, there were some striking findings. For most, RPA is a major component of their systems but 87% said they deal with some automation failure, with on average only 39% of planned bots deploy on time and one in two reported bots are harder to deploy on time.

These experiences do not diminish the benefits of RPA but do illustrate how banks need to choose RPA solutions that are easy to tailor and deploy and should fit within a broader framework that supports seamless end-to-end process automation and transformation. The team working on any implementation also needs to have the right blend of skills covering not just the technology solution being implemented, but also the process from both the customer and bank employee point of view. The ultimate goal of transformation should be intelligent process redesign and application modernization, leading to a superior customer and staff experience.

As banks focus more on effective automation, a blend of intelligence built into the automation, ensuring that when needed you get help from the best skilled person, will become ever more important. We are all becoming more accustomed to things working really well in an automated manner, and any element of advice or exceptions needs to be managed really well to differentiate banks. This will be the customer service battleground now and into the future. Errors and delays will become less and less tolerated.

Taking journeys or customer experiences in the context of end-to-end and focusing on exception-based manual processing augmented by technology will be the ultimate focus. High value activities, advisory, error or dispute processing, customer onboarding, KYC and compliance activities in general will benefit most.”

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