Most agencies have implemented or are in the process of implementing an interactive virtual response (IVR) system as part of their payment automation. During the pandemic, many leaders took advantage of the lag they faced to implement better technology solutions so they could excel and exceed the expectations of their clients and consumers. Some agencies built conversational IVR’s where consumers could ask anything to the system (i.e., “What’s my outstanding balance?” “How many payments are left on my account?” “Can I change my payment plan?”)
Such automation's are considered as a must to meet the expectations of the consumers, who are a mix of the growing millennials population and Gen Z’s. These latest solutions allow one to engage and interact with organizations at their convenience and time. Similarly, chat bots are designed to engage consumers and answer standard sets of questions and FAQ’s. Through deep integration with the database of the source systems, using a chat bot would allow users to request details of their account, conduct a payment transaction, cancel a scheduled payment, or negotiate payment plans. This could all be conducted through simple text messages without using voice channels. If needed, an option to switch from the text to call and interact with a live person would be available. These automation's have given a big advantage for agencies to serve consumers nationwide irrespective of their location and time zone. With these advancements and automation's, agencies are now avoiding the need to man these chat windows and allowing software tools to interact and serve.
Are RPA bots similar to these chat bots?
Though we categorize all of them as software robots, RPA bots are not confined to handle a specific function like the chat bots where its sole purpose is to engage with consumers and answer only if consumers present any of the “pre-defined set of questions” that the bot is configured to answer. Chat bots require one to program the standard set of activities, build a workflow, tag the metadata, and connect to a natural language processing engine to comprehend the request and accordingly map the relevant responses from the database to trigger actions.
RPA bots are designed to mimic human actions in interacting with any application interfaces. Because of this, there is no limitation of where these bots could be deployed for a simple data entry or complex data manipulation and processing.
Chat Bots and RPA Bots Teaming Up Here is a scenario: a consumer begins a communication through the online chat window to place a simple request to “check the outstanding balance.” Upon learning the debt balance and its breakdown, they add an additional request to check the “total remaining payments with its schedules” and decide to “change the next payment schedule to a different date” to accommodate other personal commitments.
1. Identify consumer with account number: Chat Bot
2. Authenticate and verify the consumer (address, DOB, SSN): Chat Bot
3. Upon successful verification, communicate with the collection system’s database to acquire the details on the outstanding balance for the pertaining account: Chat Bot
4. List the next three upcoming payment schedules by looking up the details from the collection system: Chat Bot
5. Change/modify the upcoming payment schedule: Request sent to the RPA Bot (see below the activities carried out by the bot):
a. Identify the next payment schedule.
b. Change and edit the payment processing date (ensure it is a working date) and make notes for this edit.
c. Cancel the current scheduled transaction for this particular payment. Document the cancellation.
d. Send a request to the payment processing system (merchant gateway) and acquire a new token and update for this payment in the collection system. Document this new request and update against the consumer’s account.
e. Trigger an automated text message with a confirmation on the new payment date to the consumer’s registered mobile number.
f. Present the new payment date and schedule to the chat feed.
6. Update and confirm the consumer’s request on the chat window: Chat Bot
All of these activities are processed using an “unattended RPA bot” within a few minutes while the consumer is communicating through the chat application. Similarly, RPA bots can be programmed to carry out many such processes such as updating payment details for consumers (CC/ DC/ ACH details), canceling payments, and negotiating and creating a new payment plan.