Fraudsters Beware: Intelligent Automation at Work at John Lewis & Partners
Customers looking for affordable, high-quality technology products and services, shop with a multinational electronics and telecommunications retailer online or at one of its hundreds stores in Europe. Like many retailers, it experienced a dramatic increase in inbound enquiries into its contact centers at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The company urgently needed a solution to help support its customers.
When the pandemic struck, retailers around the world instantly saw a surge in online ordering and struggled to meet demand. At this retailer there was a huge spike in inbound enquiries into its contact centers as increased online sales led to more requests for returns and refunds. And the sheer volume made flawlessly executing these requests a challenge. The company was committed to responding to heightened demand in a timely and seamless way.
Bringing in more staff simply wasn’t feasible; it would take too long and cost too much to recruit and train people. There was also the added complexity of staff needing to work from home during the pandemic. The problem required a more innovative and immediate solution.
The company was already using Blue Prism within its finance and supply chain functions. So, when COVID-19 hit, it quickly introduced 30 new digital workers into the customer services team. In just three weeks, the automation team built and implemented a series of automated customer service processes, including online returns and refunds. Blue Prism digital workers have now completed more than one million transactions, delivering the same capacity as an additional 130 staff members.
The automated processes are based on a web form which gathers data from customers in a concise and structured way. Digital workers then extract information, perform the necessary tasks in back-office applications, and respond directly to the customer. The form is available 24 hours a day, meaning that digital workers can process enquiries in real-time, leading to a 20% improvement in call answering rates and most cases now being resolved within one hour.
Importantly, because the bulk of standard customer requests are now automated, call center agents have more time to handle complex cases, providing personal customer service where it is needed most. Intelligent automation is now a strategic tool for the business, which is allowing them to build greater agility and resilience into its operations.
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