What has your experience with traditional financial services been like?
Have you ever had to wait in long lines? Did loan applications and checks get turned down because of what turned out to be an employee error?
For the longest time, working in the banking, legal, and health sectors has meant dealing with heaps of files. The sheer volume of paperwork alone saw primary service operations take the back seat.
Customer dissatisfaction grew as waiting times and costly mistakes caused frustration.
Companies are now solving these document processing woes using OCR technology.
Through automation of data capture, OCR software has paved the way for more efficient record management systems. These have in turn enabled better customer service.
In this article, we will be discussing common uses of OCR technology in different industries so you can get some ideas for your own business.
Let’s get started.
You’re probably aware that banks handle large volumes of documents every single day. From loan guarantees and new account forms, the paperwork can be mountainous. Human employees have to process every customer file individually, often feeding data into a server by hand.
Can you imagine sifting through massive file cabinets each time you want to create a new client profile?
As a result, each account opening, for example, may take quite a bit of time, leading to LONG customer waiting periods.
But that’s not all.
Mistakes are bound to happen especially as fatigue takes its toll. Customer information may be misrepresented, leading to client frustration as financial services become unavailable until the problem is fixed.
Hence, banks are using machine learning together with OCR software to improve accuracy and efficiency.
Optical character recognition software can quickly process large volumes of information for fast customer service. The result is cutting down processes that could take hours into minutes. This also eliminates the need to provide vast storage space for files.
Through the many uses of OCR technology in the business, banks can process new accounts faster.
Additionally, banks can also sort out loan forms and process checks much quicker too with OCR tools.
Wells Fargo is already using OCR technology to process transactions for clients. Customers are uploading receipts to a central system for better billing and expense tracking.
If you have some working experience in the food industry, you’ll know that product traceability is a huge issue because of the strict regulations.
Food or beverage production companies use codes to keep tabs on their products. An inkjet printer writes these codes, including expiration dates, on the packaging.
Over time, sometimes even before the products are out of the factory door, print quality can degrade and codes become almost illegible making effective data capture more difficult.
This depreciation of quality is due to debris in the printer’s mechanisms, depleted ink, and unclogged nozzles.
If the missing or unreadable code goes uncorrected, you are looking at costly re-runs and recalls.
Therefore, you may need OCR technology to implement code confirmation.
Food and beverage factories are adding OCR inspections to the production process to get ahead of that. These perform optical character verification to ensure codes are readable before products ship out.
However, there are many other uses of OCR technology in the food sector as well.
For example, companies like WineGlass are mixing OCR and customer service needs. WineGlass is using OCR to assist clients with choosing the perfect wine to pair with meals.
You can point to a wine menu via a mobile device, and get an instant list of its reviews, even if the menu is in a foreign language.
In the not-too-distant past, hospital visits involved a lot of waiting time. You had to wait considerably for files to be retrieved from stacked cabinets.
But that’s not even the worst part.
Sometimes, medical records could go missing or get mixed up, and you had to start the registration process afresh. In extreme cases, doctors would even rely on incorrect patient histories for diagnoses.
In the US alone, more than 230 million medical records have been lost, exposed, or stolen in the decade preceding 2019. This is according to a study by PrivacyAffairs.
Today though, hospitals are using OCR to manage patient records better.
In one of the most crucial uses of OCR technology, modern hospitals are substituting physical document processing with an EHR system. An electronic health record system entails OCR devices scanning patient documents and uploading the details to cloud storage.
As a result, all patient information, including history, payment details like receipts, and more, become available in one place. The result is faster and more accurate customer service.
With a single click, OCR enables doctors to view past treatments and records.
The virtual storage of information also gets around physical storage problems, namely the cost of storage space, and file vulnerabilities like fire, and theft.
By restricting permissions and file access using an authentication system, OCR technology ensures patient details are more secure and have greater privacy.
Mayo Clinic has implemented OCR to process admission documents from other facilities.
If you were transferred to Mayo Clinic from another facility, your records would be sent to them by fax.
Since fax information can be illegible at times, Mayo Clinic uses OCR software to accurately transfer the data into a digital format.
Being a paralegal at a firm that still uses traditional document processing can be a headache. You are receiving hundreds of client documents that you may need to key into a database, skimming through waves of pages to find key phrases and details.
What is more, research work becomes even more painstaking because of having to manually source and input data.
Similarly, finding the records you need is also no walk in the park.
We’ll put those problems into perspective with an IDC whitepaper which brought to light the fact that lawyers waste 6 hours a week on document management. That came to a productivity loss in the region of a staggering $9,000 per annum!
The burden of work is especially heavy if you’re juggling all the responsibilities at your practice.
Perhaps you can’t afford an expanded workforce and have to burn the candle at both ends to take care of paperwork duties.
An OCR system can handle legal paperwork without needing extra workers.
Many legal firms are using OCR technology to accurately deduce vital information from the pictures in case files, police reports, and other text in pictorial format.
The subsequent reduction of paperwork means:
- Better organization
- Improved document tracing
- Reduced risk of document misplacement
Productivity goes up as well. This is because hours that would have been spent on document management are channeled to important case matters.
Customer service also similarly improves too because of OCR software.
Paralegals can lift client information from identity cards, among other personal identification documents, for faster data capture. The same concept applies to processing payment details.
In some courts, searchability is one of the requirements for electronic filing, and OCR tools are aiding law firms to meet this criterion. OCR’d documents can easily be looked up for reference by clerks before hearings.
Therefore, OCR software is quickly becoming an important legal compliance tool.
For travel companies, consolidating client information can be a tall order. It entails processing each individual customer document, either by hand or computer typing.
The filing process is especially frustrating if you have to deal with hundreds of clients.
Travel facilitators are now using OCR software to better siphon personal information.
Instead of going through customer files, OCR tools are enabling easy and intelligent content and data migration.
Clients relying on these travel companies don’t even need to physically book travel plans. They can simply send a scanned copy or picture of the essentials via email, or some other means, and the OCR receiver on the other end will take care of the rest.
Additionally, OCR tools also enable travel expense tracking.
Modern travel companies have OCR systems in place to scan receipts accrued during travel, including accommodation, park entry charges, etc. This is important to ensure OCR and customer service transparency through tangible accountability.
What’s more, it ensures client claims can be backed up with a simple proof system.
Governments are also making good on the uses of OCR technology in traveling.
Most airports and airlines have implemented OCR technology for document verification or security purposes. These systems can be used to cross-check physical documents against an existing database.
OCR systems can excavate details from passports and other images and translate this to machine text that can be weighed against pre-set parameters.
Travelers are therefore tended to a lot faster and long boarding lines have become a thing of the past.
While each industry faces its own unique set of challenges, one that has been commonplace across the board is document management.
Many companies are struggling with traditional filing systems, which are not only tedious and resource-intensive, but also vulnerable to security breaches.
Law firms have ended up losing cases because of missing files.
Additionally, food production companies have paid millions in lawsuits due to poor product tracing, and hospitals have had misdiagnosed because of poor document management.
The many uses of OCR technology are bringing digital transformation in industries by handling paperwork more accurately, faster, and securely.
OCR software is also increasing productivity as a result, with workers getting to turn their attention to revenue-driving processes.
You too can realize these benefits by implementing OCR tools in your business.