Self-service and robot operators are the future of customer and business services

23.10.2020

Today, providing business services or customer support increasingly means the deployment of technologies and innovations that enable the customer’s request to be solved quickly, without errors and, if possible, automatically, without the need of human operator intervention. Not only robotic software will play an important role in the future, but also self-service technologies and artificial intelligence, which eliminates the need for language skills. This is the result of a recently published study by the ABSL, which was created in collaboration with the consulting company McKinsey & Company. Today, 4 out of 10 employees in the sector are working  in the area of digitalization, development and testing of new tools and innovations, on robotic automation and artificial intelligence implementation, cyber security and other IT services and innovations.

Self-service brings greater customer satisfaction

Automation in the business services sector is nothing new. Robotic process automation (RPA) is already used by 73% of Czech centers, and OCR by 53%. Almost a third of the centers have entered the live boot phase, a quarter use machine learning, a fifth use artificial intelligence, 13% automatic natural language processing technology and 9% video or image recognition. In total, all these technologies do the work of 8750 full-time employees, ie an average of 28 employees per Czech business services center. Self-service technologies will be an increasingly important part of automation in the future. It turns out that these technologies not only save operators’ time, but also significantly speed up the entire process of solving a customer request.

“A customer who helps himself through self-service, quickly and efficiently is also happier because he does not have to spend time communicating with the operator, who usually needs some time to find relevant information between departments. So it’s much more efficient to devote energy and time to structurally solving a problem so that the customer doesn’t have to contact the center next time at all, ”explains Jonathan Appleton, director of ABSL.

De-languaging will bring new opportunities and work to smaller cities

A big step forward for business services will also be the so-called de-languaging, ie getting rid of language dependence. This will be made possible by natural language processing technologies, including automated translators and conversational robots. There are already a large number of tools on the market today that enable almost error-free conversion of texts between individual languages, including Czech. “Real-time translation opens up completely new possibilities for our sector, which uses dozens of languages ​​for work and relies heavily on the language skills of its employees. For example, it will allow us to expand our range of services to new regions where unusual languages ​​are spoken that our employees do not speak, ”says Jonathan Appleton, adding: . This will have another positive impact on the entire sector – it will enable the expansion of centers to smaller cities, where language skills are lower than in bigger cities such as Prague or Brno . “

Digitization and paperless operation at your fingertips

The growth of the industry is fully related to the degree of digitization of business service centers. Not only does a high level of digitization streamline and speed up processes at all levels, and therefore better customer service, but it has also enabled business services centers to function smoothly during a pandemic and operationally convert employees to work from home. Digitization allows us, among other things, to make efficient use of the large amount of data generated by today’s digital world. “This data gives us a new perspective on our work and the work of our parent companies, which will significantly speed up decision-making processes and open the door to new ways to serve our customers, ”comments Jonathan Appleton.

An important part of digitization is also a paperless office with all the accompanying economic and environmental benefits. Most of the centers are now completely paperless. Those centers that still handle paper processes usually do so for audit purposes. In some countries, it is still mandatory to keep some parts of the accounting records in paper form. Fortunately, their percentage is declining from year to year. An important benefit of a fully digitized process is the total independence of input volumes. For example, if a sales company has fully digitized processes, then there is no need to hire new employees during the season, because the system behaves the same, whether 10 or 5,000 orders go through it.

Candidates often have no or only small knowledge of technology

“The responsibility for finding the technologies and tools that international companies need to develop and operate is increasingly being taken over by the service centers themselves. This is one of the reasons why the share of positions related to IT, research and development is growing in them, “says Jonathan Appleton,

and adds: ” Knowledge of technologies and automation, innovation and flexibility are also, according to a survey conducted by ABSL among Czech service centers, the top 3 most important characteristics of applicants for careers in the field. At the same time, however, half of the centers note that applicants very often lack knowledge of technology. They also feel a lack in the case of candidates with knowledge of data analytics (37% of centers), which occupies an increasingly important place in the field, both in the case of their own projects and as a service. At the same time, knowledge of technologies may not be at the expert level for all employees, in many cases the user level is sufficient.

About the study

The study entitled The Future Now: A Leader’s Vision for Business Services in the New Digital Era was created in collaboration with ABSL, McKinsey & Company and 28 Czech business services leaders, which spent more than 1,000 hours of work during the months of June to September 2020 analyzing the sector, its potential and opportunities. The study will be presented in detail at the ABSL Digital Conference on 10-12. November 2020. More information at https://www.absl.cz/conference/.

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