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How automation is transforming contact centres

In episode 19 of our Automation Alliance podcast series, we chat to Kris Watt, Innovation and Automation Manager at RACQ, about how his organisation has adopted intelligent automation successfully in their contact centres. We also explore what it means to create an organisational culture of experimentation and how this can help create an intelligent automation environment that benefits everyone.
In our podcast, Kris explains that RACQ began their intelligent automation journey back in 2016, kicking off with a proof of concept (PoC). Once all the potential benefits became clear, RACQ set up a small intelligent automation team, and developed a strategy and roadmap for the path ahead. At first, this team focused on harnessing unattended automation in their claims area.
Over time, RACQ’s intelligent automation team expanded to include automation consultants, analysts and developers; and they founded a proper Centre of Excellence (CoE) for intelligent automation across the enterprise.
When Kris joined the company, he drew on his combined contact centre expertise and technology know-how to drive a contact centre transformation initiative at RACQ. Given that human skills such as relationship building, problem-solving and strategic thinking play such central role in contact centre success, Kris and his team focused on an attended automation approach here – combining the strengths of both human and digital workers to create an exceptional experience for RACQ’s members. Their goal was to serve RACQ members more efficiently, without losing the human touch. “It’s about servicing the member and getting their issue resolved on the spot”, explains Kris.
RACQ kicked off their first proof of concepts in August last year with a small pilot team. By October, they saw a full deployment of intelligent automation across the contact center. At present, 180 attended software robots are working to automate repetitive tasks behind the scenes. The result? Turnaround times are faster, and agents have more time for valuable conversations with RACQ’s members.

Measuring success

Every organisation gauges the ROI of their intelligent automation projects in a different way. While Kris and his team do monitor the amount of time and money saved, their goal is to create capacity, not reduce headcount.
Whether that is capacity for our back office teams to be able to do more interesting work or projects they didn’t have scope for before, it’s about creating more ability for them to service the member better. Instead of them having to take 3.5 minutes to process something while they’re on a live call, for example, we have our bot process it within 30 seconds
Kris Watt
That means that the agent can concentrate on chatting to the member and building rapport, while the entire service experience is accelerated.
Beyond that, intelligent automation is also helping RACQ manage risk and compliance more effectively. As a member of the financial services industry, RACQ has had to navigate a substantial amount of regulatory change and heightened scrutiny following the Banking Royal Commission.
We see attended automation as a really good way to offset those regulatory changes
Kris Watt

Taking people along on the journey

While Kris and his team were able to secure executive buy-in fairly early on in the process due to the automation benefits already delivered in other areas of the business, a key challenge was engaging people on the ground. They addressed this by asking teams in the contact centre to share their pain points and problem processes.
We put the question to them, ‘What annoys you? Which processes would you love a magic button for’?
Kris Watt
By getting employees to embrace the technology’s potential for positive change early on, RACQ was able to bring everyone along on the journey. And there were some interesting lessons learned along the way. For example, Kris realised that some staff members were tech-savvy and thus easily able to pivot to new technology, while others needed more time and support. The user experience therefore had to be refined to cater for people with a wide range of technical ability.
Fortunately, RACQ has approached all intelligent automation projects with an agile, test-and-learn attitude.
We have a very big experimentation culture,” explains Kris. “When we’re looking to innovate, we look for ways that we can do a very quick, low-cost test, to see if it’s something’s worth exploring further
Kris Watt

For more detail on this inspiring intelligent automation journey, catch the full conversation here

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