Everybody hates paperwork. So why is it so difficult to get rid of it?

Everybody hates paperwork. So why is it so difficult to get rid of it?

If everyone hates paperwork, why is there so much of it?  It doesn’t matter if it’s paper or digital, paperwork seems to be a necessary evil of doing business in many industries.  But nowhere is it more pronounced as in insurance, banking and financial services sectors. There are forms to complete and documents to sign.  Whether you’re onboarding a customer or an employee, there’s data and signatures to be collected.  Accurate data and legally-binding signatures.

We’re human.  We make mistakes.  We skip a question or don’t provide a complete answer.  Data entry personnel, struggling to make sense of handwritten responses, mistype names, and addresses.  The entire process frustrates customers and companies alike.  Is there a better way?

The Paperwork Conundrum

Processing paperwork is time-consuming and frustrating. It also seems inevitable. After all, core processes require data and signature collection from customers.

Manual processes such as these also prone to error, resulting in costly inefficiencies.  For example, a customer fills out a form but enters the zip code incorrectly.  The form is sent to the back-office for data entry, where the zip code is entered as written, and the final “e” of the street name is dropped.  The internal system does check the data fields, but the incorrect zip code is considered valid, and the street name can appear with or without the final “e.”  Since no flags are raised, the data is assumed to be correct.

Then, the customer calls.  The agent asks for the name and zip code.  No match.  The agent tries the name and complete address.  Still, no match.  Finally, the agent uses a phone number and gets a match.  That one interaction may not seem that serious, but according to Gartner’s Ted Friedman.

. . . poor data quality is a major contributor to a crisis in information trust and business value, negatively impacting financial performance.

In other words, errors in data entry negatively impact the bottom line because the errors often happen at crucial junctions in the customer journey. 

Errors are costly:

  •  Mean longer wait times, which frustrates customers.
  • May move customers to a competitor, resulting in a loss of revenue.
  • Frustrate employees, which lowers morale and engagement.

So how can organizations improve the paperwork experience?  Three common options include:

  • Outsourcing the process
  • Leveraging OCR technology
  • Deploying RPA technology

None of these solutions, however, addresses the issue at the core of the problem – manual, clunky data collection methods. Let’s look at how these options address the paperwork problem and see why these methods are far from perfect.

Outsourcing the Process

Outsourcing data entry tasks may improve employee morale because their time is spent on more meaningful work.  It may also lower back-office expenses by using less expensive labor.  Some third-parties even offer assistance with storage and industry compliance, which could reduce back-office expenses.

But here is the deal: outsourcing does not eliminate errors.  Third-parties may make fewer errors, but they can’t enter data that isn’t there.  Time is still required to contact the customer to collect missing data or verify existing data. 

While outsourcing can minimize aspects of the paperwork problem, it is not a comprehensive solution as it doesn’t address the root of the problem.  The customer-facing issues still exist as does the potential for the loss of customers and revenue.  

Leveraging OCR

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is the process of converting paper-based data into a digital format.  Paper forms are scanned, and the data is sent to the OCR system to be read.  While reading the information, the OCR application separates the information into words or phrases and places them in the appropriate digital fields.

OCR technology can expedite the processing of data and reduce the risk of human error.  However, it cannot read data that isn’t there, nor can it process information that is unreadable.  Because the quality of the data impacts OCR’s accuracy, employees will still have to correct data conversion errors.  They will have to contact customers to collect missing or incorrect data. 

OCR technology is relatively inexpensive, but the price goes up if machine learning is part of the OCR solution.  Although OCR systems can speed up the initial data entry process, it still requires human intervention to address missing or incomplete data.  

Deploying RPA

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is software that automates repetitive tasks through rule-based workflows.  The technology reduces errors and integrates with legacy systems to minimize the disruption to existing processes and programs.   However, RPA is difficult to scale.  Only 3% of organizations that use RPA solutions have been able to scale their implementation successfully.  

Like OCR, RPA focuses on improving operational efficiencies.  With the right workflows, the system can identify data problems and alert the appropriate individuals so that they can address the issue.  RPA can improve the quality of data and minimize employee workloads.  It cannot address the source of the problem.

No matter how streamlined data processing becomes, it cannot eliminate the paperwork problem.  As software developers say — Garbage In, Garbage Out.  If the data is incorrect, the results will be incorrect.  The problem needs to be addressed at its source — the customer.  That means, rethinking the customer-facing processes to minimize the amount of poor quality data that enters the back-office system.

Addressing the root problem: transforming the Customer Experience from the ground up with no-code platform

Deploying technology to improve the customer experience is at the core of digital transformation.  One way to improve the overall customer journey is to make it easier for the end-user to provide accurate and complete information from the get-go.  By combining back-office and customer-facing technologies, companies can improve the customer experience, whether it is onboarding, underwriting, or claims processing.

No-code technology can transform customer-facing data collection from a frustrating bureaucracy into user-friendly customer journeys that can be completed from anywhere, at any time, and on any device.  With its visual user interface, it allows non-technical staff to develop data collection forms.  Better data validation can be built into applications.  These digital forms can readily transfer digital information to back-office solutions, removing the chance of human error in the process.

With EasySend’s no-code solution for transforming paperwork into a digital experience, organizations could solve their paperwork problem.  All the errors can be validated and corrected at the point of entry, long before the data entered the system.   Agents would not have to hunt for the customer’s information, and the customer would not have to wait.  Suddenly, the customer journey would be positive.  Given that 50% of customers would share their positive experience on social media, organizations would have the potential to increase their customer base and grow their revenue.