Robots also “fail to show up” to work: when automation cannot replace a human

As companies are rapidly automating a large part of their processes, customers increasingly often have to communicate with robots working 24/7, trained to perform various tasks. Such changes are also encouraged by customers themselves, who wish to be provided the service remotely and immediately – here and now. However, as the experience of Danske Bank shows, sometimes even robots can “fail to show up” to work. Then their tasks must again be taken over by people, at least temporarily, until a robot returns to its workplace. Practice shows that there are some other situations where the human factor remains crucial in the automation process.

 

Challenges of an employed robot

 

In the opinion of Danske Bank expert Laura Puodžiūnaitė, the digitisation and automation of various business processes significantly modifies the customer experience and creates a different value for consumers and employees. In modern organizations repetitive and monotonous tasks are increasingly often taken over by robots.

 

“Process robotisation technologies can repeatedly perform various simple tasks conventionally performed by employees, such as transfer of data between systems, collect and systemize information from different sources, or draw up reports. It is estimated that a robot carries out the same task five or more times faster than an employee. A precisely-working robot almost eliminates the possibility of human error, besides, it reduces costs and improves efficiency. At that time, when repetitive work is assigned to robots, employees can focus their attention and energy on more interesting tasks, enabling the realisation of more creative potential,” says L. Puodžiūnaitė.

 

Danske Bank has already employed more than 200 robots in few recent years. According to L. Puodžiūnaitė, practice, however, shows that robots can be vulnerable too. It could happen, that the tasks in companies get stuck, as robots simply “do not show up to work”.

 

“Let's imagine that a robot, responsible for the workload of ten or even more employees, suddenly stops working. This is not the same as continuing work after one employee does not show up to work. The response to such situations has to be quick and effective. In our practice, we have had cases when, after a robot “failed to show up to work”, the team had to quickly restore the robotised processes. Although most robots work at the bank fully independently, they need some ongoing of human supervision. Each robot has its supervisor, who regularly reviews its operations and evaluates its efficiency. “Once the operations are resumed, a robot, just like human needs to be “trained” to perform new tasks”, says Laura Puodžiūnaitė, the Head of the Digital Transformation Office shares her experience from the bank. 

 

Changing customer experience

 

More and more businesses in the digital space have installed and are using chatbots. Differences, compared to the communication with a human consultant, are minimal for the most customer enquiries, but L. Puodžiūnaitė emphasises that sometimes, when dealing with specific problems or inquiries of a customer, the chatbot’s possibilities could be limited.

 

“When creating chatbots, all possible situations are kept in mind, and experimenting with machine learning technologies allows the continuous and rapid improvement of chatbots. Today, in many companies, a customer can get a large part of the answers to their questions after sending just one message; however, there are still cases where the system cannot solve the issue and the customer is referred to the company employee. Such situations can compromise the customer experience; therefore, businesses cannot fully abandon human communication yet and combine automation with human capital,” says L. Puodžiūnaitė, and added that in certain cases digital transformation has become a natural part of customers’ routine.

 

“We notice that customers increasingly seldom visit the bank branches for daily services, and instead use mobile and online bank services. For many clients, it is becoming the main channels for effecting banking transactions. When questions arise, customers also increasingly often opt to communicate with the bank online or via mobile channels at the time convenient for them, even outside the bank’s working hours’ explains the expert.

 

In some cases, customers prefer addressing a human

 

Despite a global trend of decreasing number of physical bank branches, and proliferating full-scale digital financial services companies and customers willingly accepting selected digital processes, Laura Puodžiūnaitė noted that in certain cases customers still expect personal communication from the bank and prefers live consultation.

 

“Apparently, when clients are to take important financial decisions, for example, a housing credit or a major investment, they prefer consulting the bank specialists personally. The use of digital services is often not related to available technological solutions or their convenience. With digital alternatives at hand, some clients still choose to deal with things in person just as a matter of habit. On the other hand, client habits can change suddenly – after the quarantine started, the use of online services has increased several times across multiple industries” – says the Head of the Digital Transformation Office at Danske Bank.

 

According to Laura Puodžiūnaitė, in the creation and introduction of new banking products and technological solutions, a major focus is placed on the needs of the client. In order to obtain a timely feedback on new solutions, customers are engaged in creative processes, and become part of the t team.

 

The aim is to address people’s problems

 

According to the specialist, today, businesses around the world are focusing on solutions to address customer problems, rather than on the ways to adapt existing or new technologies or tools.

 

“Tools, even most advanced by themselves can only address individual problems, but a combination of such tools into a single automated solution generates a significantly larger potential for creating a positive experience for clients and employees of a company.

 

Today, digitalization specialists are constantly looking for ways to combine business process management systems, adapt the  most recent data analytics technologies and bring in line the robotics process automation technologies,” says L. Puodžiūnaitė.

 

She also added that the successful integration of individual technologies, such as data analytics and the innovative process reengineering, adds new operating functionalities to robots and facilitates businesses in providing useful and more convenient solutions for their customers.