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by Stephen Logan on 30th May 2012
Insurance Age published a report today claiming that many insurance websites were failing customers; not in the services they provide, but in the way that information is presented on their websites. In fact, the average score for the customer experience on home insurance sites was just 49%. So what’s going wrong?
First of all, it’s probably a good idea to say that this isn’t a problem that is exclusive to the insurance industry. Many companies struggle when it comes to conveying complicated, legal information. As a result, the content can be just as muddled as the site navigation, making it doubly difficult for visitors to get to what they need.
So What’s the Solution?
At the heart of every good website is good navigation. Without offering an easy pathway to the desired pages or content, most visitors will become frustrated and head off to find another site that is more straightforward. In an industry that is as competitive as insurance, this can have huge implications on individual companies.
For instance, what happens if you’ve invested hundreds of thousands on a coordinated online and offline marketing effort, only to find that your website doesn’t convert? After all, it’s all well and good getting people to land on your homepage, but that’s only half the battle.
One of the major issues highlighted in this particular report was the search functionality on the sites. Where many customers are looking for information on specific issues or types of cover, most will use the search section to get straight to the relevant page. However, this assumes that the search results are accurate or that this functionality is available on all pages. In the case of home insurance providers, the user satisfaction for search was a mere 27%. Not good.
The most obvious solution to this particular issue is to simply ensure that the site search function is clearly displayed on each page. You should also test the results to make sure that searches are returning accurate suggestions, even when there are spelling errors involved. If there are issues, make sure that they are dealt with sooner rather than later.
However, a site shouldn’t be solely reliant on in-built search functionality; users should be able to find what they’re looking for simply by following a logical path of clear links. Understandably, most insurance sites (as with other industries) are keen to give their products and services top billing. This means that the first page is usually overflowing with links and information regarding top-level products.
Considering Sales and Customer Service
Any such format is fine from a selling point of view; however, it will do little to help those who are looking for more information on certain elements of their current or future policy. Remember, a website will effectively represent your entire sales and customer care team online. That means as well as being able to buy a policy, visitors should be able to have any questions answered without being forced to pick up the phone.
We are living in an age of convenience. People don’t have the time or patience to trawl through websites to find what they’re looking for; so it doesn’t matter how pretty your design is or how good you believe your product might be, if you can’t deliver the basics to your visitors, they won’t give you the time of day.
This is clearly a widespread issue across the insurance industry, as demonstrated in the aforementioned report. Often it’s a case of offering information that is too complicated to comprehend, holding back certain details and creating unduly tricky application processes. Whilst all insurers need to abide by FSA rules and industry regulations, often creating a compliance headache, they also need to think about users.
Adding a Human Element to Your Site
Clearly, this last bit is proving a little more problematic for some companies. All content needs to be comprehendible and easy to find. If users can’t compare prices or find it difficult to find out more information about a quote online, it could appear as if you’re hiding something. So why not create a comprehensive FAQs section and provide links to relevant answers throughout your site? As long as it is properly formatted and grouped into logical clumps, a little more meat on the bare bones currently being provided wouldn’t go amiss.
Above all, remember that websites are built for humans – not search engines. If you can engage an audience, your site should convert better. Whilst you might want to portray an austere, professional front, you shouldn’t alienate potential policy holders with jargon and hidden information. Get your content and navigation right and you’re on your way to succeeding online – whatever industry you’re in.