Remote identity Proofing: People generally believe that more customers bring more revenue. But that is not always the case. Sometimes getting more customers can, in fact, mean fewer profits or even a loss. This article looks at the reasons why businesses take great care in acquiring customers.

Screening by Insurance Companies

Let’s start with the striking example of the insurance industry, or health insurance in particular. Selecting the right pool of customers is crucial for them. They need to maintain an acceptable level of risk in their pool of customers. A person living a healthy lifestyle would bring a lesser risk to the pool. On the other hand, a person that frequently eats junk food and does not exercise brings additional risk. 

From a business perspective, the less risky customer is more desirable. If the insurance pool contains more customers carrying less risk, the payouts or insurance claim would be less frequent. Conversely, a pool with a higher number of customers that live an unhealthy lifestyle means that the insurance company would have to pay claims more frequently.

Therefore, it makes perfect sense why companies invest considerable time and effort in screening customers. 

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An Example of Bad Screening Process

Say, an Insuretech firm (an insurance firm that primarily relies on tech innovation to earn revenues) uses the strategy of entering the market by providing insurance cover to those people that have been rejected by other insurance companies. This will not be a sound marketing plan.

The people who have been rejected by other insurance providers are likely to be carrying high risk. This would translate into frequent payouts (cash outflow) for the novice Insuretech company. They need good customers that pay their premiums consistently and are less likely to file a claim.

Another angle to look at this business equation is that when a company accepts more of ‘bad customers’ (high-risk individuals), it puts the burden on the good customers to increase their premium amounts. Business needs to generate consistent profits. Hence the emphasis on devising a strategic customer selection criterion.

Ethics Should be Part of the Business Strategy

Be it insurance or manufacturing, ethics play a critical role. For example, if a screening process results in a rejection list that contains more people of a certain race, demographic or ethnicity, this could be construed as discrimination. In some cases, the company might even incur a penalty under the law. Yes, it is not easy, unintentional breaches occur as well.

Using Machine Learning for Screening

Companies can use machine learning to screen customers. Consider a database where the management is setting filters for screening. For example, they might set the minimum income threshold of 120,000 euros to sell life insurance cover. But with machine learning, they might input ‘apparently’ uncorrelated elements such as if they take the bus to work or use carpooling. These parameters are neutral. 

But even an apparently harmless filter such as ‘the number of rooms in their house’ could result in a rejection list that might indicate discrimination. Machine learning, data science in particular, can reveal correlations between elements that would not make sense to humans. 

Strong coordination between data scientists and compliance can be a win-win. Companies could screen customers more effectively and still remain compliant.

In fact, businesses can refine their screening process by using compliant AI and machine learning screening. This is cost effective as well due to remote identity proofing. Real time identity proofing process refines the onboarding process for companies. 

Screening customers is time consuming but when done effectively, the rewards are plentiful. Businesses do not just want every customer out there. Onboarding needs to be carefully aligned with the business goals while remaining compliant to regulations.