Onboarding Clients: Are You at Risk of Discriminating?

By now claims companies are certainly waking up to the benefits of automated onboarding

But what about the risks of an automated onboarding process? Issues of discriminatory online forms have been brought to light as companies unwittingly include features that rule out clients based on gender, ethnicity and other characteristics. Not only is this a legal battle waiting to happen, but it’s also a barrier to potential clients making their claim through your company. So it’s time to examine the essentials of your client onboarding process and introduce some bias interrupters.

The first thing a claims company will request from a client is their name, and potentially their title. Let’s take a look at how this can present two major sticking points from the get-go. 

How to Avoid Exclusion When Requesting Titles from Clients

If you choose to request a title as part of your client onboarding, you should provide a range of options for your clients to choose from. Historically, options might include “Mr”, “Ms” or “Mrs”. But it’s 2020, and if you want to provide an accessible service you need to consider alternatives that do not specify gender. 

If you want to provide given answers in a drop-down menu, include “Mx” as well, a term described by the LGBT Foundation as a “gender-neutral title, commonly used by non-binary people”. Another way to avoid limiting titles is to allow users to type their own title, so you don’t have to provide every possible option in your preprogrammed answers. The best claims software will include options for both. 

Capturing Names in Your Automated Onboarding Process

Once you’ve tackled titles, you need to consider how you might be at risk of discriminating on the basis of name. Of course, your claims form will need to include a field for your client’s name, but is there a limitation on the number of characters they can enter? Names vary significantly in length and some nationalities typically have shorter or longer names than others. For example, it’s common for Chinese names to be only two characters long, whereas Indian names often have upwards of 15 characters. 

Hyphenated names are valid first or surnames, and yet hyphens often flag as an unrecognised character in an online claims form. 

The purpose of automated onboarding is to make the process quick and easy for clients, and reduce the time that claims staff spend on the phones. But if your form has a character limitation for a client’s name you could end up with hundreds of phone calls from people wanting to use your service, and unable to do so. Or worse still, they won’t bother to call and will simply move on to another claims company where they can input their name with ease. 

You also need to be careful that your ongoing human resources management system allows for simple name and gender changes as some older systems may allow last names to be changed, but no other details. Speaking with Abby Wilson who owns LGBTQ+ Flags Australia, she noted that her organisation had to change HR systems when one of their staff transitioned genders as their previous system could not allow for changes in gender once added.

Gender Inclusivity in Client Onboarding

The key to having inclusive onboarding for your clients is to have a fully bespoke system that enables you to tailor the automatic onboarding process to yours and their needs. Making these custom changes can be the difference between a good and an exceptional customer service experience. 

When considering how to approach gender inclusivity in your onboarding process, it’s worth asking if you need your client to disclose their gender. If it’s necessary for you to collect this data then we can look at how you should go about it, but question whether or not it’s necessary. 

Historically, online claims forms have limited gender options to just two, male and female. This is not only outdated but also not inclusive. If you want to include multiple-choice options consider how this may affect the length of your automatic onboarding form. With over 60 terms to describe gender identity and expression, consider if this is something you can offer a full range of options on, while maintaining the efficiency and usability of the onboarding process. 

Providing a “fill in the blank” option is a sure way to accommodate any answer, but this can make extracting and sorting data more complex. If you do need to find out your client’s gender, commit to using inclusive terms such as “transgender”, “non-binary” and “intersex”. Asking the question, “How do you identify your gender?”, is a more modern and inclusive approach. You may want to tailor your custom onboarding to include an option for “Prefer not to say”. If answering this question isn’t mandatory, don’t mark it as essential for completing and submitting the form. Consider also asking clients to fill in their preferred pronouns for future correspondence. This added layer of customer service will help secure positive feedback for your business. 

Accessible Onboarding Makes Good Business Sense

Identity is extremely important to people and if your customers feel they are invalidated by your claims form telling them they can’t be who they are telling you they are then you’ll make a negative, and lasting, first impression. Being accommodating and inclusive is just one of many ways you can become a better business owner. Whether you’re just starting out a new claims management company, or you’re giving your existing processes an overhaul, inclusive onboarding will set you apart from your competitors who are not taking the same positive steps.

Interesting Related Article: “It pays to promote diversity, study finds