RPA stands for Robotic Process Automation, a technology that uses Artificial Intelligence-based software that can perform cognitive actions similar to humans. It is seen as a game-changer in industries and functions where there are repetitive actions that follow a certain process and structure.
BPO stands for Business Process Outsourcing. It is a sort of business engagement where a business delegate one or more of its core functions to an external service provider. The service provider run the services in accordance with the quality benchmarks and KPIs laid down by the business.
At the onset, RPA and BPO might appear to be two separate offerings that may not cross each other. However, RPA being a technology that is playing a crucial role in most businesses also has tremendous potential in the BPO space.
RPA can offer scalable solutions to some of the pressing challenges of the BPO sector.
Challenges faced by the BPO industry
The BPO industry has been around for at least three decades now. It has become popular with the progress of technology and has ever since become a key driver of business growth at a global level.
However, at the moment, BPOs have several challenges. These challenges used to exist earlier. However, they have become rampant and of great magnitude lately to the point of even threatening the future sustainability of the business model.
Some of the pressing challenges include:
According to the Manpower Group, 69% of employers are finding difficulty in filling jobs. In fact, this is a 15-year low point in the ongoing talent shortage.
The pandemic, the global resignation, and a combination of global factors have also led to an acute increase in talent scarcity. As a result, BPOs are unable to take on bigger assignments that require committing resources at scale.
Increasing customer expectations
Thanks to eCommerce-induced culture like same-day delivery, on-demand streaming, free returns, etc. customer expectations across B2B and B2C have touched new heights. Further, to make things difficult for businesses, customers also have countless other alternatives to opt for if they experience a negative experience with any one brand. Studies by PwC have also confirmed this phenomenon.
Rigid compliance requirements
Gone are the days when corporations could collect, store, and process any user data. Today, there are stringent user data privacy and security statutes. They require businesses to take additional steps to raise the bar of security and privacy for their users. This makes it challenging for BPOs to design processes that will improve customer experience.
How RPA could change the game for the BPO industry
Of course, the BPO industry has challenges. However, these challenges are not permanent in nature nor are they impossible to solve. They do have solutions. Fortunately, RPA poses a single solution that can tackle the multiple challenges that the industry is facing,
1. Automate process-driven tasks
The biggest draw of RPA is that it is capable of performing repetitive process-driven tasks at scale. For example, globally people spend around 4 hours and 38 minutes every week doing duplicate tasks. In a 40-hour week, about 10% of productive time is getting useless.
With RPA, prevention of such resource wastage is possible. It is possible to automate process-driven tasks that will complete in a shorter time frame with negligible error instances.
2. Improve accuracy
Usually, when things are done at scale, it leads to discrepancies that can question the integrity of their entire sample data. This is especially the case with processes that are performed by human agents whose short attention spans, fatigue, distractions, etc. can lead to discrepancies.
With RPA, the chances of errors are negligible since the whole system is based on code and algorithm. Further, it uses AI which improves its learning with more datasets. All said it is certain that RPA improves accuracy by a great deal which is a necessity for BPO businesses.
3. Enhances data security
When human agents are involved in performing a repetitive process, the chances of errors and also the chances of critical information getting lost, misplaced, or even stolen is higher. This is specifically true in the case of the BFSI (Banking, Financial Services, and Insurance) industry where customer data is extremely sensitive and needs to be handled with care.
RPA being software bots that perform only tasks that they are programmed to do reduce the probability of data security. They ensure that the data that passes through them remains private and secure and is not accessible by any unauthorized personnel. All these lead to better security compliance.
4. Reduces operating costs
One of the key expenses of any BPO business is hiring, training, and sustaining a talent pool. It is never easy putting together a team of smart people who know how to do things in accordance with a process. It also costs a lot to keep these talented professionals on payroll and take after their well-being.
Such operating costs may not be within the budgetary limits of most BPOs. In fact, working on a shoestring budget is one of the key challenges of BPOs. RPA, although it requires investment in the initial stages, is a technology that can help reduce operating costs drastically. It can replace human workers to a certain extent and help in saving the associated costs. It also helps save costs in several other ways including deploying the process across multiple geographies without the need to transfer or onboard staff at the physical location.
5. Delivers superior customer experience
RPA comes with tons of data about the ongoing processes, user preferences, and so on which can give deeper insights. It can also tell a business what its customers are expecting from the business and how to do it to improve customer experience. In other words, RPA tells a story with data that a human employee may not observe with their limited intuition and cognitive capabilities.
RPA can be a tool of transformation for the BPO industry. It can solve several challenges for BPOs that are under several challenges that are prevailing at a global level. From improving productivity to reducing errors, and even delivering cost-savings, the benefits are several.
If you are running a BPO business and don’t have automation on your business strategy, this is a good time to start. It can spare your employees from mundane tasks. Additionally, it also saves their time and energy for bigger jobs that deserve their personal time and attention.