Is Your Customer Portal Good Enough?

Having a customer portal is a non-negotiable, but deciding how much to invest in its design is the challenge.

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It is no longer a matter of whether or not a business needs a customer portal. That question has been asked and answered with a resounding yes. And most businesses have conceded and developed one, though quality varies greatly. But the question remains, how good does your customer portal have to be?

When considering if a customer portal is good enough to satisfy customers, remember the competition is not only from other insurers. Rather, the portal has to stand up to scrutiny from consumers who are comparing it to other digital portals they use like Uber, Amazon, and Jet Blue— and they have high expectations. 68% of consumers surveyed say they wouldn’t use a company’s chatbot again if they had a poor experience and 32% of consumers agree they’d leave a brand they love after one bad experience, proving the criticality of getting digital portal services right the first time. 

Focus on the Right Parts of Your Digital Portal

With the seemingly endless customizations possible, insurers need to narrow their focus to the most critical components when it comes to designing a digital portal. Keeping customer data secure is non-negotiable. Other essential features customers expect from their portal include:

  • Mobile web friendly 
  • Easy, integrated payment capabilities
  • Ability to submit and track a claim
  • Data-driven product recommendations 
  • Alerts and notifications for policy updates or severe weather warnings 

In addition to these top customer concerns, businesses should focus on these considerations when designing their portal:

Understanding Your Customer’s Needs

When developing a digital portal, consider the reasons why customers engage with companies, then use this information to prioritize the project. The top three reasons for customer inquiries are billing issues, support with a product or service, and order status. Start by adding or improving these aspects of the digital portal to add immediate value. 

Insurers can look at actual usage logs provided by most portals to determine what is most important to users and to gain insights into what may need to be corrected. Finally, insurers can also survey their customers to learn more about their needs and wants. 

By analyzing user interaction data within the portal, insurers can identify which capabilities are most used and valued by customers. This data-driven approach can lead to better decisions on where to invest future funds when refining the portal to offer more tangible user benefits. The balance between innovation and cost-efficiency helps to ensure strategic business goals are met while customers are satisfied.

With this knowledge, insurers can enhance their digital portal to meet these top needs first, optimizing the experiences customers use most often. By making these critical parts of the customer journey simple and intuitive, insurers will see more value than if they spent time improving parts of the portal that are rarely used. 


Flexibility is an important consideration when designing a portal. Consumers expect real-time experiences that provide value when they need it, so adapting to changing customer demands is critical. The ability to add new features or update existing ones very rapidly is an integral part of the flexibility customers expect. A configurable portal, along with regular vendor updates, allow an insurer to keep up with customer expectations. 

Research has shown 65% of customers expect the companies they do business with to adapt to their changing needs over time. Working with a vendor that offers continuous improvements through system upgrades can help ensure portals are flexible and adapt to changing consumer needs.

User Experience

Consumers expect a logical user experience. They are familiar with cool technology that is intuitive, easy, and functional — and they demand the same from their insurance portal experience. Any customer-facing portal must be easy to navigate and should match the look and feel of the insurer’s brand. 

Consumers demand mobile-friendly experiences and enjoy performing many different tasks on their smart phones, so any customer portal must be optimized for the mobile experience. Consumers pay bills, do research and chat with live agents and bots within other apps, so they expect this same functionality to work smoothly when logging into their insurer’s portal from their mobile device.

The hyper-personalization trend continues with a McKinsey study showing 71% of customers expect personalized interactions, like tailored content, customized recommendations, and personalized messages, and a full 76% are frustrated when that doesn’t happen. Configurable portal designs should allow insurers to personalize interactions for returning customers to enjoy. Insurers can accomplish this by knowing their customers’ wants and working with developers to include these personlizations. 

Single Interface 

Having an omnichannel experience means customers can decide how they want to interact with their insurer, having the freedom to choose different methods of communication at different times. But this experience should still be streamlined and optimized for the consumer, so even if an insurer operates on different core systems for different lines of business, the customer should see one integrated portal. They shouldn’t need to log out and back into different systems to accomplish their needs when a single interface provides a more streamlined customer experience. 

Balancing Cost and Capabilities

It never makes business sense to overspend on technology. However, insurers need to allocate a reasonable budget toward developing and maintaining their customer portal, and may need to overcome technical debt left from previous solutions. Some signs a business is grappling with technical debt include: 

  • Slow release cycles, which may result from workarounds or complexities in the code that need to be managed each time a change is made. 
  • Frequent outages or system crashes that may derive from shortcuts during development. 
  • Challenges scaling the technology or integrating it with new tools as the original design did not account for growth. 
  • Maintenance outweighs new development as IT resources are forced to spend more time fixing bugs than developing new features. 

Insurers with greater technical debt and those who have not kept up with digital trends will likely need to spend more to remain competitive. The trend toward digital self-service is only accelerating as consumers demand robust online capabilities. 

To calculate the return on investment for a digital portal, consider the increase in customer satisfaction and retention in ROI calculations. A good customer portal can significantly increase customer retention, with a recent survey showing customers who repeatedly use multiple self-service channels have a 25% higher retention rate. 

Balance the cost and the desire to add more features by prioritizing customers’ demands. With survey data and an understanding of what customers need, insurers can control costs by adding the right features and capabilities. And with a continuous feedback loop and regular vendor updates, the customer portal always remains current.

The Role of the Agent

The agent plays an important role in leveraging digital portals to help their clients through the purchase experience. Agents often help customers access the portal for the first time, helping them to set up and personalize the portal. Policyholders often need access to their ID cards or dec pages, and agents may help them access those documents. 

Policyholders often call their agent for help with filing a claim or inquiring about their claim status. Agents may also use digital portals to educate policyholders about their coverage, provide updated quotes, or offer recommendations based on their current coverage and personal needs. Agents may also help with basic updates for their clients, like adding an email address or updating employer information. 

Because the agent is often the first point of contact for policyholders when something goes wrong, insurers should invest in training agents on how to best use their portals. This best practice will help both the insurer and agent to sell more and spend less time with customer support. Providing incentives — for both insurers and policyholders —— will help encourage greater adoption. 

Portals can be valuable tools for agents to upsell policies and provide more personalized service to customers. Agents can add value by helping their policyholders navigate the portal to service their needs. 

How Good Does Your Customer Portal Have to Be?

In today's digital age, the quality of the customer portal can define a brand's success. To truly stand out, it must rival not only others in the insurance industry but also the best in any industry, as consumers compare their digital experiences universally. Staying ahead means embracing flexibility and continually refining the user experience based on actual customer feedback and emerging trends.

So how good does an insurer’s portal have to be? It must score well with consumers based on customer satisfaction surveys. Insurers should analyze how much the portal reduces their customer support costs, and decide if there is room for further improvements compared to industry benchmarks. Consider how the portal supports the agent network and whether it provides a positive experience that makes agents want to promote the insurer’s brand. Finally, benchmark how the portal stands up to competitors to be sure it compares favorably.

By investing in a customer portal that excels in these key areas, insurers can not only meet the high standards consumers now demand but also create lasting engagement that fosters consumer loyalty and drives growth.


Sponsored by: ITL Partner:



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Insured.IO provides mid-market insurance carriers with the most complete and modern SaaS customer self-service platform for mobile, desktop, and telephone IVR that is affordable and can be maintained with minimal ongoing technical support. It serves the complete insurance product lifecycle, including sales, payment, FNOL, and analytics. Using cloud-native technology, the platform easily and quickly integrates with any insurance core systems and can be tailored to each carrier’s unique needs. It delivers real-time data synchronized across all channels, providing greater process automation, reduced CSR utilization, and great business intelligence that improves operating performance. Insured.IO can be up and running in as little as 60-90 days.


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