The following questions provide a guide for evaluating whether an existing billing system meets current standards of efficiency and customer experience:
1. Can your system issue invoices without manual intervention? Many insurers’ processes require accessing billing information from systems beyond their billing application. A good example is changes in policyholder or partner addresses, or changes in agency/broker/ partner information. This leads to uncertainty with regard to the location of data, as well as the potential for human error at the data entry stage. Effectively, the billing system is not integrated with policy and claims systems, making a comprehensive, 360-degree view of the customer impossible. Modern billing systems can automate many manual processes through the use of business rules and workflow technology. This makes manual processing an exception rather than the rule.
2. Can business professionals easily implement changes? Within legacy billing systems, many customer-facing processes are typically hard-coded—making it impossible for business personnel to make changes. Modern billing systems give carriers greater control over systems with flexible architectures that allow business users to make changes without the need for IT support.
3. Does your system have ready access to pertinent data? As with many insurers, much of the information relevant to billing is on paper rather than in information systems. Most legacy billing systems behave as simple administrative applications, sending out bills and processing payments and not necessarily taking into account the needs of individual customers. Modern billing systems integrate with other core systems and provide the means to track customers’ issues to resolution.
4. Does your system have robust reporting capabilities? The scant data access of legacy billing systems alluded to above also manifests itself in the inability to run reports. Carriers with legacy billing environments typically pull reporting data from multiple systems. They then manually assemble the data, introducing the possibility of human error. Modern billing systems provide full reporting capabilities, such as billing statements for monthly reconciliation, in addition to dashboards, pre-defined cubes, standardized reports, and ad-hoc reporting. These also provide important underwriting feedback, such as timeliness of payments, the extent of dishonors, etc.
5. Does your system incorporate both AP and AR? Often insurers depend on separate systems to process and track payables and receivables, which prevents a complete view of cash flow. Information may be stored in multiple systems or in actual filing cabinets, requiring billing clerks to spend time on administrative tasks rather than serving customers. Modern billing systems give insurers a complete, current view of cash movement and let insurers put their customers, distributors and partners first by providing flexible payment plan methods (credit card, EFT, etc.) as well as self-service customer and business partner portals.