Streamlined customer experiences are becoming increasingly important for insurers and to achieve this they need to implement an omnichannel experience, according to Scanbot CEO Christoph Wagner.
Consumers now expect digital and simplified experiences and the pandemic has only made this more true. A study from Accenture found that when picking an insurer, 61% of consumers in the UK are influenced by the quality of the carrier’s claims-handling and customer service. In Germany this stat is 76% and in Spain it is 79%. To meet expectations, insurance firms need to implement tools that can alleviate time consuming and laborious processes
Speaking with FinTech Global, Wagner discussed how insurers can improve their processes by leveraging mobile document scanning.
How are insurers traditionally handling their document processing and why is this causing problems?
First of all, I believe it is crucial to understand the scope of this topic entirely. Insurers receive hundreds of thousands of documents on a monthly, if not weekly, or for the largest, even daily basis. From documents being generated within the corporation, such as sales-related identification documents, or from outside of the corporation, such as medical invoices from their insureds, there is a wide variety of incoming information. Most of these documents, at least today, are submitted in paper form.
To start processing these documents, they are digitized in large and cost-heavy scanning facilities where hardware scanners create a digital copy of the paperwork. These digitized documents are then sent to internal backend systems, where they are run through Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software that extracts the text and classifies these documents.
The major downside of this workflow is that it takes a long time because the documents have to go through time-consuming processes like snail mailing or the scanning facilities until they are digitized.
Additionally, the actual quality of the digital version of the document, making sure the correct form has been submitted and that all required information is included, may only be realized deep within the process leading to frustratingly long handling times.
How is mobile document scanning improving insurance processes?
Today, many insurers have started allowing customers to submit documents in digital form through different channels such as email, web portals, or mobile applications. This helps to increase customer satisfaction and is something that the vast majority of insurance clients just expect.
Anyhow, this also bears a considerable risk, as customers can now submit the digital version of a document in any way, shape, or form. For example, they might take simple pictures on noisy backgrounds like cluttered desks, missing parts of the documents. And many customers are just not double-checking the results before submission.
Poorly digitized versions of these documents will lead to problems down the line, as the insurer’s backend text extraction (OCR) and document classification software will not be able to extract text nor classify these documents if they are not perfectly captured and cropped. Hence, documents will leave the automatic processing queue and need costly manual human intervention.
This is where mobile document scanning can help. Through intelligent machine learning and computer vision algorithms, software like our Scanbot SDK helps to perfectly detect, capture, and crop any kind of document using a mobile device. Our algorithms provide visual feedback to the user, guiding him into the perfect position to take the scan and then automatically capture the document perfectly, guaranteeing the highest quality image of the document.
With our device-based OCR functionality, documents can even be classified and processed on the mobile device itself, extracting and forwarding the relevant information, together with a perfect digital copy of the document to the insurers’ backend.
We currently work together with more than 20% of all health insurers in the DACH region. Integrating our software guarantees that the input to the backend is of the highest possible quality. As a result, our customers have seen an increase of up to 25% in automated document-based processes.
Has there been a hesitation for insurers to use technology like mobile document scanning?
I wouldn’t say hesitation. Some carriers simply move faster than others. We also notice that most European insurers are now moving quickly by extending their offering, providing more and more customers with a digital experience. Especially now, in times of a global pandemic, we see carriers moving fast.
Insurance companies handle a lot of sensitive personal data and are often operating in heavily regulated environments. Solution providers will need to adapt to this and ensure that the data is only exchanged between the insurance and its client without being processed and stored on any third-party server. Furthermore, it must be encrypted at rest and in transit. As data privacy and security are of the utmost importance, making sure that there is as little danger of the data being compromised as possible is one of Scanbot SDKs core architectural goals. As a result, we have seen tremendous interest in our solutions.
How is Scanbot revolutionizing how companies handle their documents?
Through mobile document scanning, we actually enable the insurances to “outsource” parts of the input management to their clients directly while simultaneously increasing customer satisfaction by speeding up processes like account setups or claims submissions. This is a win-win situation for any insurance provider. By using solutions like the Scanbot SDK, they decrease manual efforts for digitizing, classifying, and processing document-based workflows. This can be a huge cost-saver, as labor costs for manual correction or the expenditure for maintaining huge hardware scanning facilities can be decreased significantly.
On the other hand, customers receive immediate feedback on their document submissions. They have less effort on their end as well, as they do not need to send documents via postal services but submit documents from within their comfort zone by using the mobile devices they use on a daily basis.
Why is it becoming important for firms to incorporate these types of solutions?
There are over 400 million smartphone users in Western Europe alone and already around 41% of health insurers in Europe are offering mobile apps or online portals. If insurance companies want to simplify processes and enhance their users’ experience, they need to implement solutions that allow their customers to have an omnichannel experience.
Taking a look at a different market, banking, one can clearly see that new players such as N26 are gaining a lot of traction and market share by offering solutions digital natives prefer. Now, consumers also want to communicate with their insurance company on-demand and submit information indifferent to the time of the day, where they are, or what they do. We are living in a customer-centric world and markets are disrupted by technology and innovation. If insurers want to stay on the competitive edge rather than getting obsolete, they would be well advised to offer state-of-the-art digital input technologies right at the fingertips of their customers.
What was the decision behind releasing the new Web Scanner?
Our solutions are available for a wide variety of development environments so our customers can include our solutions easily in their apps. From iOS and Android native to cross-platform hybrid development environments like Flutter, Cordova, etc. But for some interactions between a company and a client downloading an app is too much effort. The Scanbot SDK for the web now enables any website to offer document scanning right from the major mobile browser like Safari or Chrome.
This ties in perfectly with our customer’s strategy of offering online portals to their clients. And they want to receive perfectly digitized documents regardless of the channel of interaction.
How can digital document scanning improve customer experiences and future business?
With the generations of digital natives that are growing up with technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR) or Artificial Intelligence (AI) at their fingertips, it will become even more essential to adopt new technologies as fast as possible. This will be key to staying attractive to consumers as well as staying competitive in a rapidly changing environment.
By using and shifting towards mobile technologies, insurances will set a foundation for new trends to come. I believe that, in a couple of years, nearly all claims or customer onboarding processes will, directly and within minutes, be made by customers using their mobile devices. Hence, investing in these technologies and increasing customer satisfaction in this space will result in increased trust and loyalty on the side of the insureds.
Let’s face it: contact points between insurance companies and their clients are infrequent. Most of them are triggered by events resulting in a customer filing a claim. A digital native will always prefer a process that is in sync with his way of living – in a digital world where you have access to everything right from your smartphone or other mobile devices, rather than having to use a fax machine or sending a letter to an insurance company.
Today, we can access thousands of songs, watch any movie we would like to, or send and receive money within seconds solely by using our smartphones and this trend will also start disrupting heavily paper-based industries like insurance or accounting.
How will an insurer’s success be tied to their implementation of mobile document scanning?
There are many levers for achieving success. But improving the customer experience, while at the same time decreasing costs, is an important one. Implementing mobile document scanning can be understood as taking the first step to real back-office process automation.
To ensure that large and powerful backend systems can automatically process any kind of document-based workflow, one needs to ensure that the quality of the input is at the highest possible standard. The ultimate goal is a fully automated workflow that does not require any manual human correction efforts. It will only be achievable if the data quality is as high as possible right at the beginning of the workflow.
To summarise: to achieve fully automated processing, which will contribute to an insurer’s success by massively decreasing costs and increasing user experience, mobile document scanning is the first step and builds the foundation for many processes to follow.
How important should these tools be in an insurer’s digitalization strategy?
Of course, there is a wide variety of solutions available which help to improve processes for insurances. However, I believe that it is most crucial to understand that they all rely on the quality of the input. You can have the fanciest AI-based document verification and claims processing backend system. But if the data this system receives is of poor quality, it will also not perform to the best of its capabilities.
In my opinion, insurers need to continue focusing on the beginning of their processes and steadily improve the systems in their backend as an ultimate result.
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