How a robot helps speed up and improve customer service processes
Tool: Danone Poland
Danone Polska is using the Robotic Process Automation (RPA) tools for swift and error-free correction of anomalies relating to the changes of the material codes that interfere with the correct fulfilment of orders. Today, a single robot helps perform thankless and monotonous tasks, thus facilitating the work of several people.
Customer: Danone Polska
The process robotised: production of the “Chameleon” report that allows detecting the anomalies preventing the correct fulfilment of orders from big customers
Utilised solutions: UiPath
Benefits: speeding up the process, improved quality, freeing the analysts from routine manual work
Danone is a global company offering products that support the proper nutrition and well-being of customers in over 120 countries on 5 continents. In Poland, the first imported Danone products appeared already in 1990, and just two years later the company has launched its production here.
Today the Danone Group in Poland is over 3 thousand employees, working in two offices in Warsaw, and in Cięcina, as well as in 7 production plants – chiefly in the South of the country. Danone’s brands - Activia, Danio, Fantasia, Alpro, BoboVita or Żywiec Zdrój can be found in virtually any grocery.
Danone’s mission is “Bringing health through food to as many people as possible”. The digital transformation has provided the company with entirely new possibilities to deliver on it. The digitalisation allows the company not only to create ever more innovative and high-quality products, but also consistently improve the business processes, in turn allowing cost optimisation, quality improvement, and balancing the business growth and the impact on the natural environment. The Danone Group in Poland is one of the leaders in implementing the smart automation throughout the entire corporation.
Challenge: swift correction of discrepancies between the codes in customer orders and in the SAP system
Big retail chains daily order large volumes of products directly from Danone. Every day, orders come in dozens for at least dozens of product types and even hundreds of thousands of specific product items. Inventory levels keep changing all the time. At the same time also the material codes keep changing in the SAP system. This leads to occurrence of errors that make timely deliveries in line with customer expectations difficult to perform.
At times, there are no sufficient quantities of products with a specific material code in the warehouses, so theoretically an order cannot be completed in full. However, the needed products are actually in the warehouses, but with different material codes. If the problem is detected at the right moment and rectified, the orders can be completed in full and on time.
“So far, the customer service department staff were manually going through every order and confirming whether all material codes matched. This was the only way to make sure that the order will be correctly fulfilled. Checking a single order typically took them around 20 minutes. Due to its labour intensity, 6 people in total had to deal with the process” – says XXXX – the representative of Danone.
This is why Danone has decided to launch the automation project for this process, codenamed “Chameleon”. Just as chameleons change their colours to adapt to their surroundings, the robot was to adjust the material codes in the orders to the changing inventory mixes.
We are the partner of the robotisation at Danone Polska, this is another of our projects delivered together with the organisational units of Danone in Europe. The smart automation programme in the Polish Danone group is at present the most advanced one.
Solution: the robot that will produce the report will correct the wrong material codes and inform about any other anomalies
The foundation of the process automation is the report that is produced as a result of the integration of data coming from three other reports. It combines the information about customer orders coming from the SAP system with the data about the current inventory levels. This allows detecting anomalies resulting from the changing material codes.
The implemented UiPath robot integrates the constituent reports and produces the “Chameleon” report, runs macros on it and then, if irregularities are detected, corrects them in line with what is in the SAP system. Then, finally, it provides the information to the competent employees.
Previously an employee had to log in to the system, go through several interface screens to retrieve the report, then apply filters to see which codes were wrong and finally rectify the errors. Every day, 30 to 60 such codes had to be modified. And every day every invalid code had to be found in every order and changed manually.
“The robot handles this process end-to-end. This automatically detects and corrects the wrong material codes. The orders are also validated against product unit-related anomalies.
The robot also detects anomalies in the numbers of product units in orders. When it comes across them, it blocks the order and provides a complete set of information to the customer service employee who can check the reason of the problem” – says Krzysztof Kuczkowski, Team Leader / RPA Developer at Mindbox.
Benefits: speeding up the process, eliminating errors and allowing the employees to focus on customer service rather than on correction of errors
Thanks to the use of the robot, the “Chameleon” report can now be generated twice a day. The first, morning report, covers mainly the orders placed on the previous day – in the afternoon and evening. The second report generated around noon covers the orders placed on that day in the morning.
On average, the employees had to manually perform several dozens of modifications every day. One “switchover” took about 20 minutes. This is why this task was performed by as many as 6 people. Now it takes just one – the process operator.
“The robot first and foremost frees the employees from the monotonous manual work. At the same time, it eliminates errors. Finally, it speeds up the whole process. The employees until recently responsible for the report generation also had other duties, resulting in the reports sometimes being generated with delays. Today, the robot always produces them on time” – says XXXX, the representative of Danone
The success of both the “Chameleon” project and the entire robotisation programme at the Danone group in Poland is a result of many factors. One of them is the huge support provided by the C-suite. The managers are encouraging all the employees to actively look for automation opportunities, at the same time reassuring them that implementing the robots will have no adverse impact on their jobs.
Sometimes, the concerns of employees about potential loss of work create a big barrier to the implementation of the robotisation programmes. At Danone Polska, there is no such problem. The rapid development of the company poses new challenges for employees. However, thanks to the presence of robots, they have space to learn and expand their skills. Having the certainty of not being replaced by robots on the job, everyone is gladly investigating where the RPA technologies could also be used. This is why the smart automation programme at Danone Polska is going forward so well.