Tuesday 23 October 2018

Fakhri Ouhaichi - IT for Business
RPA + AI > BPO in the banking & insurance sector?

According to an IPSOS survey for Académie du Service in March 2018, only 56% of bank customers and 60% of insurance customers say they are satisfied with the quality of customer service. However, this score is significantly higher in other sectors such as retail (78% for specialist retail brands, 76% for eCommerce brands, and 71% for mass retail), F&B (71%), and even telephones and motor vehicles (respectively 66% and 62%).

What are causes of this discrepancy? Lack of both fluidity and omnichannel organisation, as well as the increased number of points of contact due to the digital transformation. In addition, every aspect of customer relations in this sector (account opening, subscription, contract life, complaints, cancellation, opposition, etc.) is divided into separate workflows and business processes, which makes it difficult to properly manage the many requests received by customer relations.

To resolve this issue, online banks and insurers are turning to customer service outsourcing, via Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), which consists of delegating the handling of customer relations management processes to a specialist service provider.

BPO has the advantage of freeing up employees from repetitive or labour-intensive processes, which are often time-consuming. It also improves management of costs, fluctuating workload, and lead times.

However, it has its limits. Firstly, confidential and sensitive customer data is outsourced, creating a real regulatory issue in terms of access to personal data in accordance with GDPR. Secondly, outsourcing processes creates dependency on the service provider. Finally, the time it takes to set up and develop a BPO solution is not insignificant, so flexibility is limited.

What are the potential alternatives to BPO? Is there a way to improve the quality of customer relationship management without overloading staff while maintaining internal control over business and data?

This is where robots comes into play!

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) consists of automating computerised management tasks. Put simply, these workflows are managed by a robot that reproduces human movement and performs a series of repetitive tasks.

With the development of digital, RPA is little by little taking a leading role in helping to simplify some forms of human processing and reproduce repetitive tasks. In addition to enabling customer service to concentrate on higher-added-value processes  – such as improving the quality of service rendered to each customer  – , this virtual “arm” contributes to reducing both their time and cost, but also to better managing lead times and risks relating to human errors.

How about taking it a step further by adding a “brain” to this “arm”?

Artificial intelligence (AI) enables reproduction of human reasoning, particularly using semantic analysis and text & image recognition technologies.

A system combining RPA and AI would provide full artificial human processing, capable of managing a set of workflows (practically) error-free and in record time! Let’s take the example of the processing of the large number of e-mails and messages sent to customer service via an insurance group’s website. With a system combining RPA and AI, it could totally automate message reading and analysis using text recognition. This “virtual human being” could even transfer messages to the right contact, depending on the subject identified and the actions to be taken. The system could conceivably even reply by e-mail to the customer on its own!

The reasons for a company in the banking sector to choose this kind of solution go far beyond customer satisfaction. They also include strategic aims in terms of data management and process control, IT and information systems management, and even allocated financial resources.

Combining robotics and artificial intelligence is clearly the best tool available to banks to boost the effectiveness and quality of their customer relations. It’s a clear way to make major progress in advanced workflow and data management.

Fakhri Ouhaichi, Consulting Director, SQLI

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