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Robotic Process Automation Bolsters Chorus Customer Responsiveness And Accelerates Infrastructure Providers Digitisation

Robots provide productivity and customer service boost

Summary

  • Chorus has partnered with New Zealand business process automation consultancy, Quanton, and deployed 20 Blue Prism software robots to help connect fibre customers to its network and to handle a five-year project migrating customer services to new technology platforms.
  • The software robots are handling around 55,000 transactions a month, freeing up Chorus staff from ‘swivel chair’ work and enabling them to focus on more value-added tasks.
  • Robotic Process Automation can also play a role as companies bring offshored work back to New Zealand in the wake of ongoing Covid-19 lockdowns around the world.

New Zealand’s largest telecommunications infrastructure provider, Chorus, has harnessed Robotic Process Automation (RPA) with the help of business process automation consultancy Quanton. RPA has helped Chorus quickly and efficiently provision new fibre connections , and provide robustness and resilience when dealing with the unexpected.

More than one million homes and businesses have connected to Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB), with Chorus the provider of the majority of connections..

Robyn Malcolm, Chorus Manager Optimisation and Insights, says the software robots are providing Chorus with ‘a whole new level of reliability, flexibility, accuracy, hours of operation and consistency’.

The company started with three processes and five software robots developed in conjunction with Quanton. Today it has six core processes automated and 20 software robots allocated across the different processes. At the same time, the addition of the software robots has resulted in a new, more skilled workforce, with a growing internal team focused on the intersection between automation and processes.

Fraser Hill, Chorus Manager of Service Automation, says three of the automated processes are business as usual processes that are heavily swivel chair based or are the application of rules and workflow for orders within the company’s core systems. These are subject to large variations in volumes.

“This really helps us to be more reactive and responsive. We can scale the software robots up really quickly to be more customer responsive than we could be before,” he says.

Adds Malcolm: “You have the flexibility of adding more into the process to make sure you’re always performing within your SLA. It takes your adaptability and flexibility in terms of responsiveness to another level.”

Chorus’ Blue Prism software robot workers are handling around 55,000 transactions a month, delivering the equivalent of 12 to 16 FTEs.

The company has also deployed robots to help migrate end-of-life services on the copper network and legacy systems into new services and platforms. The five-year programme of work will ultimately see more than 100,000 customer services migrated onto other technology platforms.

Hill says using the software robots for the migration project makes the programme of work, which is highly variable with migration numbers varying each week, more manageable and ensures work can be done outside of office hours.

“To manage it with people would be exponentially larger as you would need more people to deliver in short windows, they would work unsociable hours, require leadership and be largely unutilised for the remainder of the working week.”

Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdowns New Zealand has experienced in recent months, also threw into sharp relief the benefits of having a software robot team on your workforce with the bots unimpacted by Covid and changes to working practices.

Malcolm says for Chorus, that’s also bringing new potential benefits: “RPA comes into its own when you can see we can now have control over previously outsourced processes. It means we’re not reliant on other people’s business models, so there’s a whole other level of benefit you can get from being able to automate these simple things.”

Chorus, which is on a mission to be more digitally enabled and to use technology to modernise its business and its customer service, is now looking at integrating the robots with other technologies to provide even more value for the company.

“We see software robots and RPA as one of the many tools we can use within a raft of different things that are automation,” Malcolm says. “Automation is an enabler, another tool we can use to improve our business.”

Garry Green, Quanton Managing Director, says automation is empowering a new way of working.

“The way the world works is changing, and businesses need to change with it.

“Chorus is a great example of a company which is finding quantifiable benefits through automation – in their case gaining resilience and robustness, relieving pressure on staff and reducing out of hours work, while gaining flexibility and credibility.”

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