3 common process automation mistakes

Mar 26, 2024

Business Process Automation is a good thing, and not just to generate efficiency for your company but it is demanded / expected by your customers as well. Is that right? 

Hmmm, not always.

Back in 2022 a Gartner Survey revealed that “80% of Executives Think Automation Can Be Applied to Any Business Decision”. So, in another words 80% of the business leaders believed that ANY, – means 100% -, of business decisions can be automated in a certain way.

After two years I must admit that I was – and I am still – in the remaining 20% who believes there are certain business processes and related decisions that cannot be fully automated, – or make no sense to be automated.

And if you are enforcing automation in certain business processes, – especially in some select cases -, you can decrease your operation efficiency and may destroy your customer experience.

Here are the 3 most common mistakes you need to avoid when you are planning to automate your customer service related business processes:

#1 – Automation that makes your process more difficult or effort consuming

Imagine that how many times you faced with a challenge – as a customer – when you had to go through on an automated service process with your case that needed an exception handling. While the whole automation can work fluently with all average cases, you may get serious challenges with your case that need certain exception handing.

The last resort here always a human agent that can understand the complexity and the unique nature of your case and able to resolve it through a flexible processing.

We tend to forget that our life (and most technology around us) getting increasingly more complex over the time, rather than getting simplified, and that’s why the related business processes may need more exception handling.  

Once everything is set up correctly and until your case can be managed through standard processes you are fine and everything can be fully automated, but when something goes wrong most automated systems falls apart and incapable to resolve the problem without human intervention.

Advice: Put your business processes into two buckets. A) the processes that need no exception handling, B) the processes need to handle exceptions. You might be surprised how many of your processes will fall into the bucket B) (if any). Then think about how to detect (as early as possible) the need for exception handling and design a process on a way that can divert these cases to a human advisor or to a dynamic processing engine as early as possible to avoid customer frustration and unnecessary spend of time and cost on both sides.

#2 – Automation that disregards your customers’ preferences

Many customers, – I spoken with -, stated that “I don’t call a human agent unless it is really important and urgent, and I believe that is the most effective way to resolve my issue.”

Why we (the business process owners) think that we can better decide when the customer need a human touch?

Honestly it doesn’t really matter why our customers are calling our contact center while many automated self-service options offered. If they are choosing this contact method, they already considered that could be an easier, faster, cheaper, or more secure way to do business with us instead of going through on our automated systems.

If the customers often bypassing your exposed self-service channels, they already sent a clear signal that your business automation solution is inefficient, frustrating, effort consuming or unsafe, so you better to trust on their honest judgement and keep up with their need.

Enforcing automation when the process itself is annoying, unproductive or time consuming is the best way to lose customers quickly.

Advice: Analyze (ask your customers) why they are choosing the human agent support instead of the self-service channels, then design (re-design) your automated systems on a way that can be voluntarily selected by the customers. Also consider offering a human agent support whenever the customer believes that could be more efficient. Your customers will choose this option only if they believe that could ease of their process, then you can fine tune your process automation system until the number of the human agent diverted contacts goes down naturally.

#3 – Automation that disregards your customers’ emotions

“How can I tell the machine that I am in a critical situation and need immediate support” – said one of my clients who was forced to go through on an automated system while she was emotionally overloaded in a very stressful situation.

Automated systems (and bots) are good in many things, but they have no capability (yet) to sense, understand and handle human emotions. Even if you have the best designed process automation system in place it still can’t feel the customer emotions, can’t express empathy, and can’t adjust the business process accordingly.

As soon as the human emotions can be detected by the automated systems it will be used to determine priority, severity, and urgency, but until then you need humans to sense the customers emotion and handle the business processes accordingly.

Advice: Use a clever combination (well designed and well-sequenced) automated and human assisted business process steps and connect them through junction points where the customers can decide if they want to continue using the automated system or think this is the time when better to contact to a human agent directly.

    These real-life examples showing that no business process automation system can be successful without a seamless cooperation with human agents and no use human agents’ time can be efficient without automated systems that can offload a mass amount of work from agent through automation.

The cooperation scenarios between human agents and self-service applications need to be mapped out cleverly (always from the customers perspective) to ensure the highest possible efficiency without sacrificing customer experiences. And this is a never-ending fine-tuning process that always starts with an agile and dynamic process automation engine that can adopt the frequent changes quickly without high IT effort.

And this is not just about the capability of the process automation engine. It is also about the adequate experience design behind the processes.

If you are tired to start with baby steps and want to do a Big Bang (automate an entire process at once), rather than starting with an MVP, select a partner who not just have the right product, but also gathered industry specific customer service design experiences. That can certainly speed up your digital transformation and ensure the desired ROI.

Tibor Vass
CMO of Eccentex

If you’d like to see how Business Automation can support your processes schedule a Demo with our experts.

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