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March 27, 2018

Boston Scientific, a leading innovator of medical solutions, recently automated 50 customer service processes around monitoring cardiac device implants in patients to achieve significant gains in both customer satisfaction and cost efficiencies. The noteworthy aspect of this automation initiative was that the 50 processes included not just back-end processes, but also front-end tasks that involved interaction with customers. From receiving a registration form to summarizing the transmissions from the device, Boston Scientific implemented comprehensive automation using a robotic process automation (RPA) solution.

Enterprises are embracing artificial intelligence-driven cognitive automation solutions to transform customer service. But so far, most were focusing on using RPA for back-office and mid-office services. Now some companies are using automation for front-office, customer-facing repetitive jobs as well to great effect—to achieve zero error delivery, scalability and improved customer engagement.

New-age customers are demanding enhanced service at a time, place and channel of their choice, while enterprises are beginning to adopt a more holistic approach to the customer journey – including internal back-office processes along with customer facing touch points. Automation can play a critical role at all stages—at the internal back-office and mid-office processes as well as the customer-facing front-office tasks—impacting the overall customer experience.

The advantages are many fold. Front-office automation can help provide a 360-degree customer view, thus empowering customer relationship teams. This when combined with automation of back- and mid-office processes such as collating information for customer interactions, can contribute significantly to the success of front office services. RPA or bots can greatly assist with tasks that are repetitive, predictable, rule-based, and structured, freeing human resources to work on greater-value tasks requiring ingenuity and creativity. 

Some organizations have effectively combined bots and human resources for improved customer service. An Indian bank used RPA solutions to support its front office staff with its Know-Your-Customer compliance. The automation solution not only saved several man hours but also improved customer satisfaction through personalized services. Increasingly, banks are also transitioning to a model where a teller effectively becomes a seller. This was possible through the automation of routine processes that helps the teller provide value-added services to the customer.

The benefits of front office automation are becoming more and more tangible. If you are just starting on this journey, you can learn from the early adopters. They initially focused on soft outcomes such as process improvement and customer satisfaction, prioritizing automation of tasks based on business priorities, cost-saving potential, and simplicity and repetitive nature of the business process being automated.

Organizations that successfully deploy front office automation will gain a competitive edge, due to improved customer engagement and enhanced employee productivity. This deployment will result in reduced call handling times and operational costs, rapid innovation, simplified tasks, reduced turnaround times, and increased cross-sell and up-sell opportunities due to effective next best actions (NBA) targeting the existing customer base.

Automation in the front office will not replace humans but provide a critical support framework throughout the organization—connecting front and back office processes and dramatically transforming the customer experience.

Sundar is part of the Front Office Rapid Transformation & Execution (FoRTE) team in the Consulting & Services Integration practice of Tata Consultancy Services. He has over 20 years of industry experience, and has architected and implemented robust online security solutions for large global banking, insurance, and pharmaceutical clients. Since the past few years, he has been engaged in digital strategic and technology consulting for large corporations in North America, and has helped set up Centers of Excellence to deliver on digital strategies. His academic engineering project dissertation in 1997 was based on artificial intelligence-driven expert systems.



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