Ricoh is empowering digital workplaces by using innovative technologies and services enabling individuals to work smarter. All around the world, the company drives innovation and is a leading provider of document management solutions, IT services, commercial and industrial printing, and communication services. Ricoh Italia has a very strong presence in the Italian market. Its headquarters are in Vimodrone (near Milan) and it has eight branch locations, 23,000 direct customers and 350 selected partners.
THE PERFECT STORM
When a perfect storm of issues hit Ricoh Italia, Director of Customer Service Andrea Gombac knew it was time to make a change. Their parent Ricoh organization was moving all service processes to the Siebel CRM. And while they were ready for a change, they had fine-tuned their previous system making it hard to part with—especially realizing the work it would take to get the new CRM system to support their preferred process for handling customer requests.
On top of that, Ricoh’s customer service department was receiving 1,000 customer emails a day, 400 emails were stuck in their backlog, and call center agents didn’t have the proper tools to fulfill customer requests for products and parts. With their workloads growing and pressure on their employees rising, they needed an automation solution.
“The decision was to start looking at processes of our operation and start addressing those that were most affected by manual activity, specifically emails,” Gombac says.
Ricoh was looking to automate both the data coming in from customer emails and the information taken from call center agents during calls. To do so, the team started the transition from a traditional call center model to an omni-channel service for their customers. All in the hopes of providing customers a more seamless, digital experience.
MODERN, OMNI-CHANNEL SERVICE CENTER
Ricoh Italia collaborated with B4 Value and Vincix Group, partners of HelpSystems, to find the best route for converting to the Siebel CRM and fine-tuning processes that met their goals. Together they reviewed their processes and integrated rules and developed their robotic process automation (RPA) strategy. Through this partnership, they selected the solution that best fit with Ricoh’s needs—Automate, a leading RPA platform from HelpSystems. B4 Value proved to be an expert partner in process innovation consulting, able to design and implement a highly complex project in just a few months, while coordinating with all the players involved. Vincix Group helped as the technological partner, able to exploit the full potential of the RPA platform.
Automate helped Ricoh Italia enter customer data automatically into Siebel, transforming Ricoh Italia’s call center to a modern, omni-channel service center. Call center agents are assisted by Automate’s software robots that can insert orders directly into Siebel, leaving agents free to focus on providing quality customer service.
Even more, Automate provided an RPA solution to tackle the massive amount of incoming customer emails. And according to Gombac, “when the RPA engine was integrated with our tool to validate requests coming from customers, our agents could finally focus on value and provide the correct amount of supplies based on their actual usage and print volumes.”
With Vincix Group’s algorithms, the Automate bots are used in a workflow that connects all the different types of communications together to generate a unique funnel of entry. Almost 100% of structured customer emails—emailed forms—are now taken care of by this system with no human interaction. Automate can automatically handle supply requests and set up reorders. And 25% of unstructured emails—free-form emails from customers—are automatically parsed and then sent to Automate. Ricoh Italia plans to increase this number in the future through use of artificial intelligence (AI) interpreters.
By putting the power of RPA to work, Ricoh Italia used Automate to set up automatic processes for areas they had before handled manually. This includes automating the way a customer requests support or orders supplies directly from the smart panel on their machine. These improvements allow for greater customer self-service and more accurate order fulfillment.
This architecture has allowed Ricoh Italia to create an omni-channel customer interface, where customers have many ways to request supplies and support while the back-office activities are handled automatically. This has recently allowed Ricoh Italia to integrate a new communication channel, becoming the first European operating company of the Ricoh Group to use interactive voice response with automatic speech recognition.
FOCUSED CUSTOMER SERVICE
Since implementing Automate, Ricoh Italia’s customers have already seen amazing results. Customer satisfaction surveys have become much more positive. In fact, they’ve even seen an increase to their net promoter score (NPS)—from an average of 31 in the worst quarter of 2017, to their current average of 42. The backlog of emails has disappeared, and the customer rate of self-service increased 10% to 56%.
Thanks to Automate, Ricoh Italia’s call center response has also improved. They’re now able to free up more of their employees to spend time helping customers and improving the efficiencies of their field operations. With more time and resources, they’re able to provide their customers with value added services like remote resolution of technical issues, remote management of machines in the field, and consumable service quality and cost control.
With the continued support of B4 Value and Vincix Group, Ricoh Italia’s goal now is to continue the use of RPA to optimize customer processes as much as possible.
Ricoh Italia took their first steps into the phases of automation by focusing on automating their most highly repetitive tasks. They started out with three Automate bots and are now up to 20 bots for broader, better automation. And after seeing a positive ROI within six months, they’re hopeful for the future of RPA within their organization. “At the moment, the focus is to work on the field operations processes and see if there are additional areas that can benefit from RPA,” Gombac says. “I can see this kind of initiative becoming a reality.”
Automated almost 100% of structured customer emails