Brightside partners with DCS to introduce robotics to back office

Technology

Brightside Group has partnered with Data Capture Solutions (A Neopost Company) to introduce robotics for the first time to the South West broker’s back office.

David Holloway, Brightside’s transformation director, said robotics is likely to play a growing role in meeting chief executive Mark Cliff’s vision of creating a fully digital broker.

“We have implemented digital marketing and sales at the front end, but now we are using robotics to deliver back office activities such as documentation, printing and despatch.”

“We are already discovering that robotics has reduced both cost and error rates, and by taking out the human variable we have significantly improved our response time. Using robotics for non-value -added activities will also make Brightside more scalable as an organisation.”

David explained that robotics is not new to financial services, but many businesses (such as in life and pensions) have largely failed to make it work for them and their customers. DCS helped to identify the most suitable parts of the operation for Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and it is being used for compiling document packs where the insurance documents are coming from third-parties portals, reconciling invoices and posting credits received from debt cases. There are plans to extend robotics to two more processes including management of debt write offs and the automation of cancellations due to missed payments.

“We started this project in October last year and the first build went live in December. Robotics is now on our OGI and Echelon (CDL) Platforms. We have one live programme (Creating document packs) dealing with 100% of our niche Van customers, have two more in test and others in design including a process for automating debt write offs.”

He added: “Automating debt write-offs is, frankly, not sexy stuff, and most digital investment focuses on new business and digital sales.”

“However, transforming Brightside to a fully digital player means investment in the back end is just as important as the front end, and it will deliver cost savings and efficiency improvements that will be passed to the customer in return.”

Nick Scarff, managing director of Data Capture Solutions (A Neopost Company) said: “We have worked with the Brightside team in a very agile fashion and focused first on automating chunks of activity which are low risk. The key to a successful Robotic Process Automation (RPA) project is to understand the process “as-is” first and then apply automation. The approach has paid dividends already. Brightside has a return on their investment less than six months into the project.”

David added: “Our underlying principle is to use robotics where the task is repeatable and the agent is adding little value leaving humans to work on the more unusual or difficult scenarios where they can add value. Brightside is not going to be manned solely by robots any time soon, though we fully expect to report a better customer experience.”

He said that “brokers have been criticised in the past for under-investing in technology, and shying away from digitisation, but Mark Cliff and the team are convinced that, in personal lines broking, embracing digital will be the difference between surviving and thriving, or extinction”.