You can easily imagine the scene: You and your family, tired and cranky after a long flight and the crush at the baggage claim. The kids are ready for a romp in the hotel pool, and you’re looking forward to a frosty beverage. You approach the rental car desk with dread, only to find a shiny new kiosk that asks you politely to insert your driver’s license. Within a couple of minutes, the kiosk spits out keys, a map and instructions for finding your car in the lot. By the time your spouse has taken the kids to the restroom, you’re already waiting in the car outside, bags loaded, ready to zoom off to Vacation Land.
What is this, an episode of the Jetsons? Even better — it’s the latest in customer service, enhanced by advanced mobile scanning technology. Self-service kiosks and mobile service devices can quickly scan and verify your identity, connecting seamlessly to reservation and payment systems, running a quick DMV check, and populating proprietary systems with your information for later use in service transactions or marketing.
In this scenario, everyone benefits: the kids and parents are grateful for the easy convenience, and the desk agent has a shorter line of customers and more bandwidth for non-routine transactions. Meanwhile, the rental company saves on staffing resources, earns a repeat customer, and gathers valuable marketing data.
The applications and specific benefits of mobile scanning technology extend well beyond the travel industry. In a society that moves at gigabit speed, customer expectations are quickly transforming. No one wants to wait in line, deal with paper forms or repeatedly spell their last name for an overworked desk clerk. This holds true whether the “customer” is a patient, a prospective buyer, a loyal client or a guest.
The earlier in any interaction a customer’s data can be captured, digitized, verified and connected to systems of record, the better. The accuracy of the data captured via scanning enhances every process that follows, for the entire cycle of engagement. In addition to better-served, more satisfied customers, high-quality data capture results in qualified sales leads, fraud prevention, fewer rejected claims and a cleaner audit trail.
Intake and onboarding transactions are streamlined — less typing, less photocopying, less paper to file and store. The scanned data is automatically digitized into searchable text and populated into online forms and databases. When required for test drives, secure check-ins at commercial buildings, purchases of controlled substances, banking or high-dollar transactions, the customer’s identity, age, or credit status can be quickly and accurately verified through back-end connections to appropriate third-party databases.
Customer service agents, sales representatives and security officers are relieved of many time-consuming, routine processes and better able to focus on establishing relationships, caring for patients and customers and other high-touch aspects of their job. In security situations, for example, badge or ID scanning takes care of rote verification tasks so that security personnel can watch out for red-flag behaviors and contraband.
Mobile scanning means all types of data capture and verification tasks can happen wherever the customer may be — at mobile clinics, on the sales floor, in the checkout line, even during online registration processes. Thanks to the widespread adoption of smartphones, customers are used to having the world at their fingertips.
Any technology a business adopts that provides convenience, speeds up responsiveness or empowers users to help themselves will impart competitive advantage. Not only do customers know they have other options when they encounter poor service, but they can easily broadcast their experiences via social media.
Customers’ high expectations are hard on front-line employees. Years of cost-cutting and outsourcing means that most of these knowledge workers are stretched thin. When they have effective tools, their productivity and quality of work increases. Interactions with well-served customers are more pleasant. Job satisfaction increases, and happier employees provide friendlier service, feeding a positive cycle.
Costs associated with training and turnover are likely to decrease. With automatically generated digital customer records, managers have more visibility into the status of accounts, cases and workloads. Analyzing collected customer data helps supervisors identify underperforming employees, find bottlenecks and optimize scheduling and workflow.
Sales and account representatives are better able to start relationships off on a positive note. Instead of manually processing customer information while staring at a screen, they can move and converse comfortably with their prospective clients, focusing on answering questions and targeting their pitch. Retailers, both online and in store, have a much higher success rate with lucrative loyalty programs when the sign-up process is automated.
The automation of data entry and verification tasks results in much lower error rates. In some sectors, such as healthcare insurance billing, accuracy is directly related to revenue cycles; even slight mistakes will cause claims to be rejected and compensation delayed. Accurate, organized and securely stored customer data creates a cleaner audit trail and eases compliance with myriad regulations.
Banking, healthcare and many other industries operate under numerous mandates related to customer data. When that data enters the system on a piece of paper, it has to be properly filed, stored and eventually shredded. Printing, copying and storage are expensive, and becoming more so. Paper is easy to lose and hard to secure. Disaster recovery requirements are much more easily met with digital back-ups than paper duplicates.
It’s no surprise that leading information management organizations predict significant increases in spending on mobile capture, OCR and paperless workflow over the next few years. Many forces are driving process optimization across all types of organizations, including the digitization of business, economic pressures and regulations. The most visible shifts are consumer driven: mobility and social media, the growing preference for self-service and online options, and the ability to do their own research prior to purchase.
Customers and clients demand to be served quickly and efficiently, and companies are under pressure to do more with less. Scanning solutions are an essential first step, removing hassle from the beginning of relationships and optimizing back-end processes that will keep customers happy throughout.
Yossi Zekri is president and CEO of Acuant, the leading provider of identity solutions. Acuant’s award-winning and patented credential management solutions automate the intake, processing and verification of unstructured data from ID documents. Leveraging virtually any device, the company’s solutions transform this data into useful and insightful information used in critical business applications, whether local or in the cloud.