What is Robotic Process Automation (RPA), when should we use it and why?

If you’re looking to streamline business processes, improve the way your business operates, and improve your customer journey, then you’re in the right place.

In this blog, we explain robotic process automation (RPA), its benefits and where it should be used. So, if you’re new to the concept, you’ll learn just how much RPA can benefit your business.

Before we dive into RPA, it’s essential that the stigma attached to the robotic automation of tasks is addressed…

For some, automating processes seems scary and often sparks debate as to whether jobs may be at threat. So, it’s crucial that first, we fully understand RPA’s place within our businesses.

RPA is simply digital labour - digital labour that assists employees in their day to day job. For example, customer-focused employees like those in call centres will spend less time on routine tasks and will have more time to proactively reach out to prospective and existing customers.

It’s important to know that RPA isn’t about replacing people with robots - it’s about taking the robots out of employees, so they can focus on higher-value tasks to deliver a better service, and improve the customer journey.

So, Robotic Process Automation isn’t a threat to the jobs of current or future employees. It can be seen as way to boost productivity and enhance employee satisfaction…
February 18 2019

What exactly is Robotic Process Automation (RPA)?

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is the use of software with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning capabilities implemented to handle routine, repetitive tasks between multiple systems. This application of technology is aimed at automating business processes, improving  productivity, efficiency and accuracy, so frankly, we don’t have to waste valuable time on  the less important tasks at work.

With RPA, a company can configure a robot to manipulate data, trigger responses and communicate with other digital systems, freeing up employees to work on more important tasks day to day.

To carry out these tasks, as mentioned above, an RPA robot uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning capabilities to observe end user actions in the graphical user interface (GUI) of an application. By doing so, the RPA robot ‘learns’ the user actions and is then capable of copying most human user actions. Some examples of these actions are handling transactions, copying and pasting data, moving folders, calculations and filling out forms.

So, an RPA scenario can range from something as simple as an automated response to an email, scanning forms to extract data, updating customer records, or on a larger scale, deploying thousands of bots to process customer orders.

What are the benefits of RPA?

The biggest benefit of RPA is undoubtedly cost savings. However, the benefits extend far beyond just cost…

Higher job satisfaction from employees

As we mentioned before, RPA is implemented to take care of routine, repetitive tasks. With digital labour, employees are freed up to focus on more valuable tasks, meaning that employees become more satisfied with their job duties.

Higher quality of work

Naturally, when handling data, humans will make mistakes. With RPA, human errors are eliminated, meaning that the quality of work is significantly higher, while saving the business money and time correcting erroneous work. Employees can then be refocused to put more time into customer service, driving higher customer satisfaction.

Improved customer journey

RPA can be implemented at key stages of the customer journey to help deliver a fast, intuitive and seamless experience.

For example, let’s consider the application for a credit card. Traditionally, the customer would complete a form at a bank, then wait for weeks while the form is collected, its data re-entered (with the possibility of errors), then sent to the necessary departments for approval. A lengthy, time consuming process, and even longer if errors are made with data re-entry…

In this instance, RPA software can transfer the customer’s original submitted information in real-time, moving it to the correct stakeholders and destinations the moment it’s received.

By seamlessly moving customer data from A to B, and with minimal interpretation, RPA reduces wait times and errors. This significantly improves the overall product acquisition experience.

Cost savings

Across industries, human error can collectively cost billions of pounds. Checking data and making corrections to erroneous work is an arduous task but can be significantly reduced with RPA.

To see more benefits and how they’re linked, see our infographic here. (Opportunity to create a nice infographic on benefits and how each supports productivity, efficiency, cost savings and employee satisfaction.)

Where to use RPA

Now we’ve covered what RPA is and its benefits, we’re now going to talk through where it should be used in the retail and finance sectors.

Use cases for retail businesses

Returns Processing

Product returns cost the company and if the processing of returns is done manually, it increases the costs even more as manually processing is very time-consuming.  RPA effectively manages the returns and makes all the required changes needed in altering the database and customers’ billing. RPA can make returns processing highly efficient and therefore as cost-effective as possible.

Finance and accounting

Accounting and finance functions have mostly been managed by qualified professionals. However, over time, technological advancements have called for quicker actions, less errors and generally, a smoother workflow. With digital transformation taking over, order and invoice processing, accounts payable and accounts receivable management, account reconciliation, procure-to-pay, order to cash, consolidating account information and various other tasks all can be managed easily, efficiently and cost effectively with RPA. 

Customer support

As customer satisfaction is a top priority for retail businesses, customer support is integral to achieving this. In e-commerce, 24/7 support has become really valuable and really important. By using RPA in this instance, companies can make their customer support strategy quick and convenient.

For example, the moment a customer completes an order, the system will keep track of it and can send real-time updates straight to the customer. RPA for customer support doesn’t end once the customer has received their item. A sophisticated and efficient customer support system will then collect after-sales feedback from the customer. Needless to say, this saves even more time, money and effort.

Use cases for finance businesses


As we’ve discussed in this article, RPA drastically reduces erroneous work, while also saving employees the time and effort to manually enter or gather data. Anyone who works in finance knows that errors can be daunting, but also know that it’s near impossible to avoid them after hours of entering data.

In this instance, it’s a win-win for businesses. Employees are saved time and effort, and errors are eliminated. Both, again, save the company money. RPA speeds up the process, keeps it error free and ultimately, keeps customers happy.

Data consistency

Customer details are forever changing. Be it their names, addresses, telephone numbers or credit ratings. RPA can use bank statements as a reference to extract relevant data and therefore update records. This is a good example of an essential but routine and repetitive task, which can be managed by a software bot. If the employee doesn’t have to waste time on this, their attention can be more focused on delivering a great service.

Promote options for investment

With RPA, bots can track investment values, despite the possibility of sudden changes. Bots can assess the portfolio of investors and therefore minimise the risk of investing. So, RPA tools can serve as financial advisors, but without the cost of their human counterparts.

An example of this kind of bot can be seen here from Colombian bank, Bancolombia. InvesBot was created to improve the user’s investment decisions, delivering real-time information about stock market fluctuations.

To see a full list of RPA use cases for finance, go here. [links out to another potential blog to target more specific customer segments]

So, what’s the take home message?

To remain competitive, it’s essential that businesses digitalise their operations and RPA is evidently the way forward. According to ISG, by 2020, 9 out of 10 businesses will have implemented RPA. RPA is becoming increasingly important for improving the customer journey, and as businesses realise the potential of digital transformation, RPA is set to become an integral business tool.

Transform your business

If you’re looking to implement RPA, let us help transform your business.
Get in touch with the team at Leading Resolutions.