Rebecca Jennings, senior client advisor at international benchmarking firm Global Reviews, provides an insight into the performance of life insurance providers online.
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The life insurance market in the UK is the second biggest in the world, taking over £185 billion in premiums a year, but the industry faces a number of pressures both regulatory and economic, making the market an intensively competitive one. Though the products on offer can be complicated, comparison sites now routinely offer price comparisons, alongside home, motor and pet products; a Google search for “life insurance” offers five links to comparison sites on the front page.All this means that the online experience offered by life insurance websites has never been more important. Unfortunately, according to the latest Global Reviews Life Insurance Benchmark Survey, conducted quarterly, many providers of Life insurance in the UK struggle to provide the required level of customer experience online. The survey looks at several hundred online criteria designed around the needs of consumers researching and applying for life insurance online. The criteria are then scored and weighted to produce an overall customer experience score for each life insurance website, which is expressed as a percentage. A score overall of 55% to 67% is required for the site to be deemed to be meeting basic customer expectations (so less than 55% suggests the site is failing to do this), whilst a site scoring between 68% and 83% would be exceeding expectations. Scoring above 83% would be exceptional. For the benchmark conducted in Q4 2011, the average score for a life insurance site was just 53%; so not meeting customer expectations. The insurance industry as a whole is a low scoring industry; for example, in Q4, the health insurance industry scored an average of just 49%. No one brand in the survey stands out head and shoulders above the rest; the overall scores for life insurance brands vary between 44.5% and 59%. Interestingly, there is also quite a lot of conformity when it comes to brand scores in each of the different areas in the benchmark, suggesting that there are specific industry pains around some elements rather than internal development problems within specific brands (see graphic 1)
As can be seen from Graphic 1, the lowest scoring categories for the life insurance industry are around getting a quote, helpful self-service information and contacting the company; issues that are problems for all brands in the survey. Of course, with hundreds of criteria in the Benchmark, there is need to determine which poorly performing elements should be prioritised. Graphic 2 shows the priority pain points for the UK Life insurance industry; the criteria in which the industry performs poorly, and which are weighted highly when it comes to calculating the final score. The graphic clearly shows the key elements that are letting the industry down right now – issues around quote results, starting the application process, and contacting the company.
Quote results score poorly because of the lack of information supplied to users at the end of the process. At this stage, a user is still in their consideration phase; as another Global Reviews product, the Shortlist Report reveals, consumers get an average of 4 personalised quotes before deciding how to proceed. In order to encourage them to do so, insurance firms need to give them all the information they need to progress their quote on the final page; so, at the very least, a link to policy details, monthly payments (and annual if relevant), a review of the personal data they inputted, and a clear breakdown of what is covered, as well as any options that can be added (with a price). This is also the point at which insurance firms need to reinforce the “Why us?” message, which many fail to do. Incorporating a clear message of a brands’ value, whether that is a consumer based message such as a banner calling out a great Net Promoter Score, or external validation such as a Which Money? Award, the final quote pages need a clear reminder to uncertain users of the advantages of one brand over another. When it comes to starting an application, few sites in our survey link the application to any help or frequently asked questions pages in their site. Other research conducted by Global Reviews into how consumers actually go about finding, researching and getting quotes for selected products suggests that around two thirds of consumers go straight to the quote and application pages, bypassing the product information pages and only returning to them after the quote. This suggests that consumers are likely to have questions as they go through the quote process, having not read about the products before, so it is vital that extensive FAQs and help content is constantly linked throughout the quote and application process. Legal and General, for example, keep a link to “frequently asked questions” to the site of the quote and application process throughout. It is also important for users returning to a saved quote to apply; it may have been some days since they originally saved the quote, and they may well have questions as they go through the process, and anything a site can do to reduce the percentage of users who need to quit to find an FAQ will boost the chances of conversion.Contact details for many of the brands in our survey are hard to find, especially for general enquiries rather than a sales enquiry. LV provides a good exception; their product based contact us pages provide a wide range of options including email, phone and call back, as well as linking to the sites’ extensive, searchable FAQ pages – important, as our research shows that most online consumers would rather solve a problem online. It’s clear that the life insurance industry, as with the other insurance markets in the UK, has some way to go to meet consumer expectations. To start with, Global Reviews would suggest that ensuring consumers have all the relevant information at their fingertips on the final quote and start application pages will be likely to increase conversion rates. Additionally, brands should constantly be checking that the “Why Us?” message - which provide a constant drip feed of a brand’s value – is not being lost or missed, throughout the product, quote and application pages. To find out more about Global Reviews visit www.globalreviews.co.uk or find on Twitter: @GlobalReviews