Unlike loyalty programs, which for many customers have their justification, for others only cash is real (Ok, in the form of a digital transfer…). Cashback is a more tangible method than earning points that require you to earn Y number of points in order to then receive a discount or voucher for product X. A cashback campaign, when done simply, is a customer magnet and is usually a fixed part of the business model. However, if you have to wait several days for the cashback after purchasing a product under regular conditions, this is tedious and not only potentially discourages customers from making a future purchase, but is also likely to make the company think twice.

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A cashback campaign needs to be solidly thought through before it begins. From the company’s side, it must be very clearly defined which merchants are participating in the campaign, a start and end date for the campaign, and what product (or products) are involved. Let’s take a cashback campaign for a photo camera as an example. When buying model X, customers are refunded $200. If the buyer is now asked in a next step to create an account online, this is still acceptable, after all, he can deposit his bank details for the cashback. However, if he has to fill out additional forms and provide personal as well as product information, upload a copy of the purchase receipt and a picture of the serial number of the purchased photo camera, it is then also not very surprising if it takes thirty days for the $200 to land on his bank account. The picture this cashback campaign paints is not a satisfactory one, and chances are good that this is because the data capture and processing is based on manual processes only. Not only does this end in clouded customer satisfaction due to the many administrative prompts and the long wait for the cashback, but it is also unnecessarily time-consuming and costly for the company because of the many validity checks. It’s a good thing that automating data capture and processing is more timely and much simpler.

This is where intelligent, AI-based OCR (Optical Character Recognition) comes into play. Instead of the prompts to fill out forms described earlier in the photo camera example, it is now quite sufficient for the customer to upload their digital invoice. With a paper invoice, the customer takes a photo with their cell phone camera and uploads it. The OCR software does the rest, automatically identifying, extracting and processing the relevant data. But it’s not just the customer who experiences significant relief; the company also benefits enormously. The customer invoice data can be automatically matched with the campaign terms data. In other words, whether the retailer from whom the photo camera was purchased is one participating in the cashback campaign, whether the purchase was made within the defined period, and whether the serial number on the invoice matches that of the campaign. If all these points are met, the money transfer can be triggered within seconds.

Fraud protection

Where cash is promised, fraudsters are usually not far behind, which makes cashback campaigns particularly vulnerable. But here, too, the OCR solution is a help. The software, depending on its configuration, detects and registers incoherent structures in a photo or text manipulation, for example, and can issue an error message. The company can thus react quickly and specifically to fraud. OCR software therefore not only eliminates all error-prone processes that can arise during manual data capture and processing, but additionally those that are barely visible to the human eye. The same applies to a cashback campaign based on a product purchased in a supermarket with numerous other products that have nothing to do with the campaign. The customer simply takes a photo of their receipt and uploads it. OCR identifies and extracts the single, specific product out of all the others purchased and automatically matches them to the campaign terms. If these match, the promised refund is again issued to the customer’s bank account within a very short time.

Implementing automated data capture and processing in cashback campaigns is therefore worthwhile in many respects and brings benefits not only within the company but also in terms of customer satisfaction and loyalty.