Front office operations are the most important ones since they directly involve a customer.
43% 1 of customers blacklist a brand after a bad experience. This exemplifies the importance of customer satisfaction to customer retention and company growth, especially in front-office operations such as sales, customer service, marketing, and the like.
As with back-office automation, front office tasks can be automated via AI tools, including RPA, WLA, process mining , and more. Automating and improving primary processes can increase customer satisfaction by 72%, as BPM statistics suggest.
Yet, business executives may lack the detailed knowledge of front office automation. Or they might prioritize back-office automation over front office automation.
This article explores the concept of front office automation, its importance, and top 5 examples.
What is front office automation?
Front office automation is automating front office tasks, such as:
- Post-sale services,
- Providing information on upcoming releases,
- Marketing campaigns and more,
With a host of automation tools, such as:
What are the benefits of front office automation?
1. Increase operational efficiency
The major benefit of front office automation is increasing the efficiency of the operation by quickening the back-and-forth between the client and the rep.
For instance, RPA-enabled chatbots can be employed for handling FAQs. Because chatbots extract and paste their “pre-made” answers from knowledge bases, they can provide them to the customer at a faster rate than a live rep would. As a result, the client’s issue would be solved in a faster manner, increasing their satisfaction.
2. Spare time for valuable tasks
Alternatively, automation tools can augment the workforce by working alongside employees instead of holistically carrying out a rep’s task.
For instance, prior to a sales pitch, the rep can input a command for the bot to quickly bring up all the data of a customer’s previous interactions with the company, such as:
- Their activity on their website,
- Transcripts of their conversation with previous sales and customer service reps and chatbots,
- Purchasing history, and more.
The data can assist the sales rep in providing a more targeted and laser-focused sales pitch. And by not having to spend time bringing up the data, the sales reps can use the saved time to increase the sales calls they make.
So another benefit of front office automation is saving employees’ time.
What are the use cases of front office automation?
1. Handling common queries
RPA chatbots can handle common queries, such as:
- Shipping status,
- Invoice details,
- Refund requests,
- Complaints and suggestions submissions,
- Changing account information,
- Requesting more details about a product/service,
- Asking to be connected to a live agent, and more.
The chatbots’ quick B2B and B2C interactions make for faster handling of common queries that would otherwise take away from the time of representatives and the clients if done manually.
The other benefit of automating handling of common queries is that it increases the accuracy of the responses. For instance, if a customer asks for his/her invoice details, the chatbot can show him/her their own invoice details, and not someone else’s. Invoice automation eliminates misunderstandings and the need to exercise further effort to sort such avoidable issues out.
2. Analyzing sales processes
Another tool used in front office automation, and back office automation, is process mining.
Process mining can help bring the sales processes under the microscope and automatically analyze them for improvement opportunities by leveraging event log data registered in systems like CRM and SAP.
For instance, process mining can pinpoint how, in a sales process, the biggest time gap is between when a customer reaches out for assistance regarding a purchase, to the time when a sales rep gets back to him/her.
Manually analyzing all the processes and subprocesses of sales operations, in addition to studying their event logs’ data to identify bottlenecks and wastage, can lead to suboptimal remediation and troubleshooting.
The benefit of data-driven maintenance of sales processes is that companies will be given a “template” to direct their efforts specifically onto areas that need improvement.
3. Complaints and suggestion handling
Reaching out to customer to ask them for their experience increases the likelihood of them voicing it. And then listening to and trying to resolve those complaints will ferment loyalty in the customers by 83% 2.
By using conversational AI, businesses can leverage the chatbot to ask users about their complaints and receive them on the spot without the customers having to navigate to a different page.
Moreover, using NLP and OCR functionalities, the RPA bots can read through each submitted complaint, understand the general content of it, and tag and categorize them so the representatives will tend to them based on their determined urgency.
The piling complaints and suggestions into respective buckets can decrease the likelihood of representatives ignoring or not seeing them. Front office automation increases the likelihood of timely receiving complaints and acting upon them.
4. Newsletters and marketing content
Marketing and sales personnel might forget to send out the weekly newsletters and the latest marketing content, periodically and on-time.
Front office automation can help. To avoid the guesswork and missed deadlines, they can use WLA tools to schedule the sending of these newsletters and sales content to users’ email addresses on predetermined days and times.
In addition, the marketing content can be curated to be personalized to the user’s interests. ML algorithms in personalization engines can analyze the user’s interactions with the company across different social media channels to identify the content/product/solution that they are interested in.
So marketing outreaches and lead nurturing, staples of front office automation, can be automated and be more targeted.
5. Department-specific process automation
Bots can follow business-rules specific to the department they are leveraged in to automate data-driven decision making in the front office.
Claims processing, for instance, is an insurance process that requires back-and-forth between the insured and the insurance agent to get all the information about the accident and the next steps.
Bots can be leveraged to instantly determine whether the insurance plan covers a specific accident, medical procedure, or a certain misfortune by validating the given customer data against the business rules.
Or in telecom, customers can enter the city, borough, province, and district they live in on the website to see if the selected service provider covers that specific area. The bot would take the given data and, with API, exchange the data between the database to see if the given locations are mentioned in the knowledge base.
Automation of such front office tasks offers users quick and accurate answers which not only means their requests will be handled quicker, but also that the answer they receive is in-line with the company’s policies.
For instance, a financial institution claims to have been able to achieve a 50% 3 in customer satisfaction thanks to leveraging RPA and automation in front-office operations.
For more on automation tools
To learn more about various automation tools’ nature and use cases, read:
- RPA Benefits: 20 Ways Bots Improve Businesses For The Better
- Top 14 Workload Automation Use Cases in IT, HR, & Accounting
- Computer Vision: in-Depth Guide
And if you are ready to start on your automation journey, visit our automation hub to find data-driven lists of vendors offering different automation tools.
We will help you select the right tool for your business:
Cem has been the principal analyst at AIMultiple since 2017. AIMultiple informs hundreds of thousands of businesses (as per similarWeb) including 60% of Fortune 500 every month.
Cem's work has been cited by leading global publications including Business Insider, Forbes, Washington Post, global firms like Deloitte, HPE, NGOs like World Economic Forum and supranational organizations like European Commission. You can see more reputable companies and media that referenced AIMultiple.
Throughout his career, Cem served as a tech consultant, tech buyer and tech entrepreneur. He advised businesses on their enterprise software, automation, cloud, AI / ML and other technology related decisions at McKinsey & Company and Altman Solon for more than a decade. He also published a McKinsey report on digitalization.
He led technology strategy and procurement of a telco while reporting to the CEO. He has also led commercial growth of deep tech company Hypatos that reached a 7 digit annual recurring revenue and a 9 digit valuation from 0 within 2 years. Cem's work in Hypatos was covered by leading technology publications like TechCrunch and Business Insider.
Cem regularly speaks at international technology conferences. He graduated from Bogazici University as a computer engineer and holds an MBA from Columbia Business School.
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