12/21/2021

Digital Process Automation for Customer Service

Katie Smart's profile picture
Katie Smart Vice President, Global Marketing and Communications

What is Digital Process Automation?

The definition of digital process automation (DPA) is the use of technology to optimize workflows by automating processes within them. Because those processes are more standardized, this results in improved enterprise performance and reduces errors that traditionally prevent businesses from achieving their best results.


DPA is distinct from other forms of automation, making it a more attractive option for companies looking to enjoy the benefits of greater digitization, while also keeping human expertise and ingenuity at the center. For example, DPA is not the same as business process automation, which digitizes many day-to-day tasks, potentially replacing, rather than augmenting the work of people. It is also different from business process management, a more theoretical and research-based method of measuring, modeling, and automating enterprise functions.


Digital process automation is straightforward, both in implementation and use. With DPA, technicians and experts have consistent, streamlined steps for task completion right at their fingertips, and customers have more rapid paths to receiving the help and services they count on.

Adapting to evolving customer needs

The ability to deliver world-class service is essential for companies to win an increasingly tight competition for business and loyalty. A recent report from experience management company Qualtrics framed the stakes in stark terms, with 80% of more than 20,000 respondents worldwide agreeing that customer service is in need of improvement.


These customers, according to pollster Ipsos Mori, have come to demand “flawless” service encounters, with dramatic technological advances partly spurring such exacting expectations. Disappointing experiences, or customer service delivered with inconsistent quality, act as a drag on a business’s reputation and revenue alike.


Process automation helps differentiate a company’s service offering, giving its customers the ability to show problems in real-time, while empowering technicians and experts to provide quick and actionable solutions. Added benefits include the prevention of unnecessary on-site visits, improvement of net promoter scores (NPS), and reduction in the number of product returns.


DPA removes many barriers to optimal performance. SightCall Digital Flows raises service experiences to the next level by digitizing manual processes to improve efficiency and reduce manual error. With the help of standardized, step-by-step guidance, including detailed instructions and checklists, technicians and service workers can complete tasks with no ambiguity or confusion. Its flexible platform offers customizable use case creation, empowering customer service organizations to create and deploy flows built to improve processes across multiple lines of business.


Companies will find several areas particularly suited for the implementation of DPA.

Six benefits of digital process automation for customer service

1. Alleviate workforce pressures


It is no secret that the labor market has grown tighter over the past few years, with U.S. employment levels in early 2021 estimated at nearly 9 million people less than the year before. Employers are competing for scarcer human resources, while many of their most skilled professionals are either seeking different opportunities or are no longer working altogether. Indeed, Pew Research Center suggests that since the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of older Americans leaving the workforce due to retirement has increased by two percentage points.


There is also evidence that a number of positions remain unfilled because of a gap between the skills companies need and the ones current workers possess. As service professionals are hired to fill vacancies, these new hires often lack the acumen of their predecessors. Digitizing processes ensures universal access to essential information needed to complete tasks, relieving training pressures on companies and ensuring that knowledge is widely available to everyone in an organization.


2. Augment self-service resources


Customer service teams spend a significant portion of their time assisting with routine matters that customers could or would like to handle on their own. With 40% of customers preferring self-service over expert assistance, DPA easily empowers them to complete complex procedures with the help of informative, on-screen instructions, powered by AI and AR technology.


Providing self-service resources for customers to address common issues has the added benefit of freeing up service agents to focus on higher-value tasks.


3. Improve first-time fix rates


First-time fix rates represent one of the most important key performance indicators for businesses to track to determine how effectively they are providing a service. Questions or product issues that require redundant steps put companies at a higher risk of losing business and customer loyalty.


With digital process automation, customer service solutions are standardized and easily accessible to any service agent, so that a worker can complete a task with no follow-ups or additional dispatches needed.


4. Target and avoid problems before a site visit


A company’s ability to “triage” an issue can reduce unnecessary steps on the path to issue resolution in multiple ways. Technicians can reduce average handling time by collecting essential information from the customer prior to the start of a virtual session or in-person dispatch. Appointments can be made more successful by guaranteeing that the correct parts, tools, and technicians with specific skills are sent to a site.


Furthermore, with digital process automation, experts can validate and test customers’ devices prior to conducting a visual assistance call, to determine whether the phone or tablet will be an effective communication medium.


5. Streamline traditionally complex processes


Digital process automation removes the headache from processes like the filing of insurance claims. In this use case, policyholders can complete customizable web forms, furnish supporting photo or video evidence, and send off their claims quickly and easily.


For issues like damage or warranty claims or follow-up sessions, a customer has the option to escalate to a visual assistance call, with all the information relevant to their case collected and ready for the remote expert to review. This cuts out the need for a customer to repeat their story multiple times to different people.


When a customer expresses a strong preference to fix an issue on their own, DPA empowers them to resolve or report their own issues, even technically complex ones, with easy-to-follow on-screen guidance.


6. Improve regulatory compliance


Regulatory compliance, while necessary, can prove a considerable expense for companies. Regulated industries face costly fines or lost productivity if procedures are not carefully followed.


With digitized processes, workers can perform essential maintenance for continued operational efficiency with an audit trail of procedures ensuring compliance.

DPA case study: Standardized repair services with Digital Flows

In one example, a global third-party administrator (TPA) working closely with insurance companies, their adjusters and homeowners needed a standardized way to ensure that repair work was performed and inspected to exacting standards while working with a large network of independent contractors.


The company offers customized managed repair, restoration, and mitigation through a large contractor network spanning nearly 2,000 locations. Offering a one-stop solution for securing high-quality repairs for property damage and restoration work meant the company earned a reputation among homeowners as one of the nation’s most trusted names in the restoration industry. But having such a large number of contractors working under their umbrella meant that standardized repair processes were all but impossible to achieve without multiple inspections and redundancies. Besides the costs accrued by additional site visits and contract delays, safety and regulatory compliance issues also became a concern.


Enter digital process automation, a tool that guides contractors anywhere in the network through specific inspection processes throughout a job, while also gathering all necessary information and documentation, including high-definition photos and videos. Using SightCall, they receive access to a digital flow through a text or email link or directly from within the CSM. A digital flow can be completed on any mobile device, with all relevant information and media uploaded directly to the case file. Customized flows are completed before the work begins, while the work is performed, and after the work is completed and handed off.


When kicking off a project, a digital flow guides the contractor to record a video of the work site while describing the work needed. The contractor is then prompted to identify any safety concerns present. Selecting any of these triggers an action that immediately loops in the people needed to approve the work so it can move forward. A task is generated in the customer relationship management (CRM) software, notifying the relevant party to review the case file and associated media.


During the repair process, SightCall Digital Flows can also be used to monitor the quality of the work. For instance, contractors are prompted to take videos with commentary about the work for each relevant room or area in the house. If any additional work needs are identified, they can be instantly sent directly to a supervisor of the project and an insurance adjuster for carrier approval.


Digitizing the entire repair and inspection process means the TPA ensures all contractors within their network complete essential repair work that complies with universal quality and safety standards. Full and auditable documentation acts as a quality check, while also producing increased efficiency. For homeowners, who in many cases are interacting with the TPA and insurer after having faced damage from catastrophic events like fires and storms, repair projects are completed faster, with fewer errors, maximizing satisfaction.


Being able to inspect and approve work remotely has already helped to reduce delays, as well as eliminate unnecessary site visits. Now, by empowering contractors to collect all the necessary information with digital process automation, even more time was saved by remotely viewing each work order that required attention.

Digital process automation for corporate customers

Businesses catering to corporate customers face their own unique pressures to respond to technological advances, as well as service and cost needs. Take the example of one of the world’s biggest oil & gas companies, seeking to standardize maintenance and repair processes, including in remote and high-risk locations, while also improving audit compliance and reducing their carbon footprint.


For much of its history, the need for highly specialized engineers meant numerous in-person site visits were needed, posing a distinct challenge for offshore oil rigs. As a result, deployment time was in a matter of weeks, instead of days.


Prior to the introduction of SightCall Digital Flows, engineers used pen and paper to log their work, writing down what repairs and maintenance tasks they performed on a wide range of highly specialized equipment, then transferring those notes to the company’s database at the end of long shifts.


This came with considerable risk. The company once paid back nearly $1 million to one of its customers for a repair that was improperly documented, because the work couldn’t be verified.


Today, for every repair and maintenance task, a technician can access a specific digital flow on their mobile device. As they go through the automated process, they are prompted to enter all relevant information and collect helpful media, such as photos or videos. Engineers can scan a serial or model number, automatically capture display readings, perform accurate AR measurements, and document and confirm their work on the spot.


Through digital process automation, the company achieved hundreds of thousands of dollars in reduced travel costs in just six months, with significant savings realized on every site visit. With other efficiency gains included, these figures are even higher.

A better choice for next-generation customer service

All over the world, companies are enduring significant pressures to maximize performance, while also lowering operational costs, boosting productivity, and reducing human error. On top of this, it is essential for businesses to have flexibility in the way they deliver service, agility to adapt to external disruptions like COVID-19, and accountability to industry standards, all of which legacy systems can fall short in delivering.


Digital process automation is the best of both worlds for customer service, allowing enterprises to keep the technical and service skills of their best workers at the center, while also mitigating common challenges faced in day-to-day customer service that can drag operations down.

Learn How SightCall Can Help Your Customer Service Organization Implement Digital Process Automation

If you’re still uncertain about whether digital process automation could transform your customers’ experiences for the better, get in touch with us today to request a SightCall demo. Our team will be able to address any questions you may have specific to your sector and target key performance indicators.

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