Part 3. Savoir-vivre in automation. Can robots be courteous?

As you know from the first episodes, I’m quite unusual. When I started working for XELTO DIGITAL I was a normal robot. The colleagues from my team taught me more and more interesting things every day, so I could help our customers in their daily tasks. One day, She appeared … From that moment on, I decided to be not only useful, but also more courteous. A short conversation with Monika and Kamil was enough to teach me the additional rules of savoir-vivre…

With the Expert’s eye:

In our team, we assume that communication between a robot and our customer in the automation process is not a minor detail. For the purpose of this article, by ‘communication’ I mean all the information and messages that the processing robot sends to the operator or user of the customer by e-mails. These can be error messages, reports, or action completion information. Any information sent by a robot to a person can be either cold or, as the name suggests, automatic in reception, or sympathetic and, colloquially speaking, ‘human’. From our experience with customers, we have reached the conclusion that: the customer expects the robot to be simply courteous in communication.

What does this mean for us who design robots?

Let’s remember that there is a person on the other side and they are pleased to receive a message starting with: “Dear User” or “Please be advised that”. After all, if our customers treat the robot as a virtual employee or a colleague, it is understandable that this approach is translated into the language of communication, just as it is between employees who like each other.

Can a robot speak any language?

The robot should also be a polyglot to the extent that every user receives messages from him in their native language. It might look like a small thing, but it really works. Emails sent in English, which is invariably associated with computer language, are perceived as cold and too official. Saying this, I do not have in mind the customer’s ability to understand English. Simply, information in your native language (English customers are out of this competition) is simply more accessible. We already know that building such a communication does not require much effort. And to prove that it is worth doing so, let us give you an example of some feedback we received from one of our customers: “The robot is very polite in its messages :).”

Electronic correspondence:

The most common tool used by a robot for any communication is an email, which covers all the needs in this respect for most processes. We can inform the user that the robot has started or finished a process by email. We can send information about system or business errors, send a final report or a notification of any event that occurred during the process.Technically, the robot can send an email using the mail client application installed on the workstation. This method allows us to use corporate mail without needing to have, store and, in consequence, update the mailbox login data. In addition to using the client, the robot may connect to the mail server using SMTP, POP3 or IMAP, or, for a mail provided by larger vendors, it may connect via dedicated services such as GSuite, and Microsoft Exchange Server.

Not just email communication:

However, it should be borne in mind that although email is the basic and most popular form of communication, robots have more possibilities at their disposal. For processes whose characteristics force us to react quickly or to have more interactions with the user, it may also be useful to use instant messengers, such as MS Teams, Skype, SameTime etc., for communication. A poor substitute for communication between a robot and a person can also be a robot workflow report left in the appropriate location on the network drive, which can be a good solution if you want to avoid spam or if you do not have the right tools available.

Authors: Monika Stawicka – Business Analyst, Kamil Gawlista – RPA Developer