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December 14, 2016

Why Are Insurance Websites So Bad?

Summary:

Functional requirements from IT and underwriting drive most websites. Here are four tips that are easy to implement and will delight customers.

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

While large aggregator sites and a few notable direct insurers are trailblazing ahead, on the whole the insurance industry is lagging behind other industries in user experience (UX). Why?

Dock9 hosted a roundtable earlier this year with experts in the insurance space to find out.

Even though many attendees wanted to change aspects of their website and back office systems, some sticking points meant that even small changes took a long time.

One was underwriting rules. A lot of information is mandatory, so forms have to be long, and new requirements for Treating Customers Fairly limits how questions are presented to users. Overall, the view was that systems are functional but rarely built with best-in-class UX in mind.

Another sticking point was IT systems. In many cases, delivering instant quotes and allowing self-service is purportedly either not possible or prohibitively expensive and complicated to implement.

But in an increasingly competitive market, these sticking points can no longer be excused, There are tried-and-tested strategies for delivering best-in-class UX layered on top of legacy systems that don’t require a full “rip and replace” of core systems. For example, Optimizely can enable changes to be made and A/B testing done, unencumbered by the restraints of your CMS or back-office system.

Here are four ways to improve your UX:

See also: Keen Insights on Customer Experience  

User Testing

It was noted that the most successful insurance websites are driven by strong development processes that include prototyping and user testing during development and optimization after launch.

But most on the roundtable agreed that this process is still rare within the insurance sector. Insurance websites, quote and buy processes, My Account spaces and back offices are largely driven by the functional requirements from IT and underwriting.

Those that have instituted early testing and user testing into their process understood the difference that good UX can deliver, both in actual improvements that the customer sees and feels and in a shift in mindset within the business if key stakeholders are involved in the process or presented with the results.

User testing can help get management buy-in and build a business case for changes to websites and systems. The video output from user testing sessions can be used to demonstrate the difference the changes will make and ensure that what is ultimately passed to developers to implement is a proven idea that has already been tested with real customers.

If lab-based testing is out of budget, lower-cost alternatives such as WhatUsersDo offer cost-effective ways of instituting some measure of user testing into your process.

Thinking beyond the online purchase journey

Who ultimately owns or has oversight and vision of the end-to-end UX?

This question cropped up as we discussed how insurance UX is much more than the initial journey from quote through to purchase.

Making a claim is the time when customers truly experience the value of their insurance policy. Often, claims are outsourced and serviced separately from other parts of the journey, but they are the critical experience that can make or break your reputation with the client.

Self-service portals (for mid-term adjustments and renewals) available on all devices, along with ready access to schedule documents, are increasingly expected by users as we see the new generation of on-demand customers. However, the My Account space on websites was often an after-thought or controlled by IT or an external software supplier.

Telephone vs. online

In the same vein, although some had launched online self-service products in the expectation that call centers would act as a backup for small amounts of customers, as many as 70% of quotes are still processed over the phone for some products.

This includes customers calling up at the beginning of the process, and the call center following up on incomplete quotes. To deliver the best telephone experience, it is important that call center staff are aware of the online interactions that a user has undertaken across all channels.

The same is true for Live Chat operators, which many cited as being successfully implemented in their user journeys.

Analytics

Ultimately, to truly deliver the best UX for their customers, insurance companies first need to understand how their users are actually using the existing live platforms. This presented technical challenges for some, especially tracking from a main “brochure” website all the way through to the end of a quote and buy journey, which is often on another subdomain.

See also: 4 Hot Spots for Innovation in Insurance  

Tools such as Hotjar enable cost-effective field-level analytics to see where your users are really experiencing pain points in the journey. Hotjar screen recordings of live website user interactions can deliver unrivaled insight into your actual users.

It’s a perfect opportunity for insurers to now start thinking about how they operate and ask themselves the following questions: Has anyone taken ownership for the complete, end-to-end user experience within your organization? Have you shifted to rapid prototyping and testing with real customers before proceeding to develop any new features? Are we remaining innovative and attracting the new generation of customers? ls your company culture going to enable the change required to keep ahead of the pack?

Most importantly, how can we steer clear from being left behind by failing to adapt to changing times?

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About the Author

Mark Lusted is managing director of Dock9, a financial experience design agency based in London. Dock9 has worked with insurance clients for more than eight years designing, building and integrating online insurance experiences.

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