Automation has dominated business services centres in the Czech Republic. Software robots are capable of processing the requirements of their customers more quickly and more effectively and so three quarters of Czech centres are involved in innovation in this area. The chief benefit, as well as savings, is greater customer satisfaction – for example customers do not have to wait so long on the telephone until it is “their turn”. The prize-winning project by the BlueLink Company, which sped up settlement of customer requirements by 60%, can serve as an example.
Software robots are already capable of working with current data and applications, responding to events and processing transactions, creating reports and communicating with other systems, all without human intervention. And robots equipped with artificial intelligence and natural language processing technologies can manage much more sophisticated tasks, for example settling an e-mail query concerning an invoice. In such cases the robot accepts the e-mail, understands the basic message, connects to the accounting system, finds out the relevant information and sends it back to the client.
Chatbots – a robot on the other side of the earphones
Chatbots function on the same principle. They are capable of replacing operators in contact centres and, according to estimates by the ABSL, will manage 90% of all customer support centre operation within 5-10 years. “Chatbots are already capable of providing basic information or performing searches in proposals as standard. In the near future they will be capable of communicating verbally so that you won’t even be aware that you are talking to a robot,” Jonathan Appleton, director of ABSL explained, with the understanding that chatbots most frequently communicate with customers in writing at present, through chat or short messages for example.
Award for the BlueLink International Company’s Laura
Innovations utilising robotic automation are currently a focal point of interest by business services centres. The BlueLink International Company presented the most interesting project last year, when it successfully developed and put into operation the Laura chatbot. “Laura became very popular with customers and so was chosen as the winner of the ABSL Diamonds award in the Business Innovation category,” Jonathan Appleton informed, and he added: “I personally very much appreciate both the indisputable benefits of Laura in the form of significant acceleration and settlement of customer queries, and also the fact that the company’s employees themselves were enthusiastically involved in the project.”
Artificial intelligence at the airport
The Laura chatbot of the BlueLink International expert customer services centre serves customers who contact the Transavia airline by text message. It processes queries on various themes, from reservation of tickets, through potential delays, travel documents or luggage, to complaints. If it is sufficiently certain that it has understood the customer’s requirement, it seeks out the required information in the knowledge database and in external systems, and arranges it into an answer. If it is not certain, it leaves the conversation to the experts.
“So-called operating peaks frequently occur in the air transport segment, due to extreme weather or security incidents for instance. The number of customers contacting our contact centre is several times higher during these peaks. An alternative to the frequently over-loaded telephone lines is the so-called instant messaging system, an on-line application enabling immediate feedback in the form of short text messages, for instance through Facebook Messenger, Skype or WhatsApp. Instant messaging is the ideal sphere for application for robots, and it also an increasingly popular communication channel with the younger generation,“ Simona Benešová, director for transformation at BlueLink International.
It was the employees of the BlueLink Company themselves who came up with the idea of using artificial intelligence or a so-called chatbot. They also fully developed Laura using components freely available on the market. “Laura was born in April 2017, just 8 months after the head of our development team, Marek Růžička, came up with the idea for her realisation. He also had the honour of naming the chatbot – after becoming the father of four sons in his private life, he became the proud father of a virtual daughter, who continues to grow and learn new languages and skills,” Simona Benešová explained, and added that Laura currently supports conversations in Dutch, French and English and is capable of processing approximately 27 various spheres of customer queries. Her greatest advantage is that she optimises distribution of requirements during peaks so that those concerning a current issue are settled preferentially.
“Laura will certainly not replace all our operators or experts, but she has become the optimum tool for improving the quality of customer services and speeding them up, and has helped us increase the options and the comfort of our operators. I think that this innovation certainly belongs in the world of contact centres and I believe that our activity will inspire other companies in this segment,” Simona Benešová added.
ABSL (Association of Business Service Leaders in the Czech Republic) je organizace sdružující společnosti působící v segmentu sdílených podnikových služeb. Jde o segment, který v České republice aktuálně zaměstnává 89 000 lidí a generuje 5 % českého HDP. ABSL vznikla v roce 2013 s cílem podporovat společnosti z oblasti podnikových služeb, sdílet best practises a pomáhat s rozvojem aktivit svých členů i jiných subjektů působících v tomto segmentu. Zároveň ABSL poskytuje podporu zahraničním investorům, kteří chtějí v ČR zřídit svá centra podnikových služeb. Více informací naleznete na www.absl.cz.
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