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Business services process improvement: Insight and automation

Business services process improvement: Insight and automation
Communications is core to the work of shared services and business services functions. Communications Mining is providing much needed process intelligence and improvement, analysing and driving vital improvements and automation in some of the most inefficient workflows.

Business services and the shared services centre were set up to prevent operational silos from forming in the enterprise. So it’s crucial that business services isn’t left to run like a silo. Service leaders employ a wealth of tools to monitor, measure and optimise internal agent performance. But analysing service delivery from beginning to end has proven more difficult.

Communications is the glue that binds the shared services centre to the rest of the enterprise. Agents are connected to the outside organisation through emails, support tickets, service requests and phone calls. Workflow systems collate, organise and allocate this work for them.

This system has been adept at keeping organisations ticking over. But not everything has run smoothly. The disruption of the pandemic and the advent of remote working have stretched business services to the limit. With an unprecedented influx of requests and communications, agents are spending upwards of 52% of their day dealing with manual, repetitive comms tasks. Automation alone hasn’t been enough to turn the tide, and overwhelmed agents are slowing performance and service delivery.

When the shared service centre starts creaking, the business is in danger of grinding to a halt. Process improvement, more intelligent task prioritisation and targeted automation are much needed. Fortunately, Communications Mining offers a solution.  

Process analysis: in-provement

Communications Mining, an application of Conversational Data Intelligence, uses natural language processing (NLP) technology to understand and extract meaning from digital communications - usually on an enterprise scale. 

Communications such as emails, chats and support tickets have been notoriously hard to analyse. Most analysis and automation tools struggle to comprehend human language, especially when that language is conversational and ‘unstructured’. As a result, vital and time-consuming workflows remain almost invisible to shared services leaders - immune to process analysis and improvement.

The benefit of Communications Mining is that it can interpret and analyse masses of communications data at speed and scale. The latest NLP models routinely outperform human agents in accuracy and efficiency. It’s no surprise then that 67% of shared services leaders are investing in NLP for data extraction from email. This technology allows Communications Mining solutions to automatically extract the most important information from a message - such as intent, reason for contact, tone and sentiment - making it ready for analysis.

The application for business services is huge. The vast majority of work is triggered by inbound requests from other parts of the business - mediated by communications such as emails and tickets. By applying Communications Mining to these inbound messages, shared services leaders gain unprecedented insight into the drivers of work and workflow. 

For the first time, they get an accurate overview of what is driving demand in their service function, the requests that are taking the most time, and why processes are breaking down. Process Mining is an important tool for identifying process inefficiency, but only Communications Mining explains why it is happening. Process Mining shows the ‘how’, Communications Mining explains the ‘why’.

Armed with these insights, business services leaders are empowered to make better decisions and achieve better outcomes. Planning, hiring and capacity decisions all benefit when you understand what’s driving request and failure demand in your service function.

End-to-end process automation

What goes in must also come out. Requests enter the business or shared services centre and they create workflows as agents reach out to service their internal customers. Yet not every workflow is a good use of your agents’ time. Indeed, it’s estimated that half of all service requests are transactional - password resets, updates and the like. Sometimes, an email or message will be sent to the wrong agent and they’ll have to spend precious time routing it to the correct team.

Though small in isolation, these processes add up. They distract agents from more important tasks, while their mundane and repetitive nature drive churn and impact service morale. Yet service leaders have had few options but to throw more and more people at the problem.

Fortunately intelligent automation provides a solution. The combination of Communications Mining and automation technology provides for the safe and reliable automation of almost any transactional service request or message. Not only does Communications Mining aid automation discovery - highlighting suitable processes for elimination or automation - it creates the clean structured data needed for said automation. It provides both the logic and data needed for the end-to-end automation of some of the most wasteful (and hated) business services workflows. 

Reshaping the operational model for business services

Not all tasks are created equal. A shared or business service leader needs to be able to prioritise the most important, most valuable work. 

Yet most workflow systems lack the logic layer needed to categorise and prioritise the most critical requests as they come in. Instead, work is usually prioritised on a first-come, first-served basis - with little bearing on the value of the task. All business services agents, regardless of seniority receive their fair share of low-level, low-importance requests - but it’s these routine tasks that are so often prioritised by first-in, first-out workflow systems.

The beauty of a Communications Mining solution is that it completes the missing link - providing intelligence for otherwise ‘dumb’ processes. By understanding and interpreting inbound requests, Communications Mining provides the logic needed to categorise tasks by priority. An RPA or automation tool then closes the loop - allocating the task to the right agent or automated workflow.

By working together, workflow, automation and Communications Mining enable the intelligent prioritisation of work in business services. Shared services leaders can build out specific, custom queues for the highest-value workflows. The wheat is separated from the chaff - simple, repetitive tasks are automated while the most important tasks are sent to your best agents.

Intelligent prioritisation goes beyond process improvement. It transforms the operational model for business services. Shared services isn’t just the director of traffic for the enterprise, it becomes the core driver of operational efficiency and the creator of real business value. 

Learn more about how NLP is enabling digital transformation and unprecedented efficiency in shared services.  

How NLP completes the intelligent automation stack

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