Transforming customer journeys in the digital age - and making automated bots more productive in the process

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Before the world changed in early 2020, I guess I was trying to avoid engaging with automated chat bots wherever possible. This wasn’t just because I wanted to speak to a real person, but because most of my queries tended to be a little more complex than the bots seemed to be able to understand, let alone address. The time and route to actually speaking with someone who could help was frustratingly long.

Obviously, since the start of Covid, there has been even less opportunity to engage with a real person. To be fair, chatbot interactions have got a little better but I would hesitate to say that the experience of my digital journey has been transformed.

Last week I joined a briefing with my colleague, David Norfolk, where we interviewed Chris Lamberton, CEO, and Stephen Tickhill, CRO from TrustPortal. This UK company is just emerging from a stealth period after working with some major organisations in telco, utilities and financial services to develop a solution that could drive real transformation in the way automation might help develop new and improved customer journeys in the digital age.

What transpired in the briefing was very enlightening. I guess we all know by now that if you automate a bad process without redesigning it first you get the same bad outcomes faster and more often. But even business process re-engineering projects struggle to deliver genuine digital transformation. Partly this is down to the sheer complexity of designing all the possible outcomes from a set of customer interactions, but also, existing Business Process Automation (BPA) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) solutions have significant challenges in interacting in an agile fashion with digital technologies such as CRM, websites, or channels including chatbots, interactive voice response etc..

The TrustPortal philosophy is to focus on making the design and development of new customer journeys simpler by maximising the potential of new and existing RPA robots. What TrustPortal is looking to do is to have RPA robots run end-to-end automated processes and dynamically generate digital user interfaces, without the concerns and challenges of integrating with legacy systems. The design philosophy is based on making it as simple as possible for people to map out and develop customer interactions with a consistent user look and feel, and minimal or no actual coding. Potentially, this offers the facility for any process, from customer facing in the front-office to task management in the back-office to be automated and digitised.

The result is that systems integrators can spend more time and focus on the business process redesign which, frankly, is still critical to the success of any digital transformation. But crucially, TrustPortal claims it has also led to an improvement in automated robot productivity. It found that typically, in contact centres today, one robot supports one agent. Where TrustPortal has been implemented one robot can support between 5 and 10 agents and one agent can also use multiple robots to support them in their work. This clearly has the potential not only to reduce call lengths significantly but also, potentially, for calls to be eliminated entirely. Any of the major RPA tools  can be used, as well as TrustPortal’s own API and Task “minibots” to automate API access and distribute work around the enterprise.

This ability to orchestrate and improve the productivity of existing bots has led to at least one existing BPA vendor to offer the TrustPortal solution as a front-end module that should start to deliver on the promise of hyper automation. It is also being taken up by major Systems Integrators and you may well start to see the solution in operation in your business, even if you haven’t already engaged with TrustPortal itself.