Ipswich, Mass. - The life insurance industry achieved the dubious distinction of having the highest percentage of companies failing to adequately respect the online user. Such are the findings from a survey conducted by The Customer Respect Group, an Ipswich, Mass., research and consulting firm that focuses on how corporations treat their online customers. Released today, the fourth quarter 2006 Online Customer Respect Study of the Life Insurance Industry evaluated 50 websites to create a customer respect index (CRI). The survey evaluated six sub-indices that factor into three meta-concepts identified by customers as their critical concerns when using Web sites: Site Usability – How usable is the site to a wide range of users? This includes simplicity (ease of use) and attitude (accessibility). Communication – How willing is the company to engage in a one-on-one communication to answer specific questions? This includes responsiveness (quality of email replies – both speed and helpfulness -- response tone and other communication methods). Trust – Can this site be trusted with your personal data? This includes transparency (clarity and comprehensiveness of privacy policies), Principles (respect for data privacy, cookie explanations) and Privacy (respect for data privacy, clarity and comprehensiveness of privacy policies). The overall CRI score for the industry was 5.1, which was significantly lower than the overall cross-industry average (C-IA) for all sites evaluated in 2006 at 5.8. This industry rating represents a slight drop from the last report. In no area does the industry exceed the C-IA; only in attitude (accessibility) does the rating even match the C-IA. In trust, the industry scored 5.1 on the 10-point scale against the C-IA of 5.8. The online communications score, already at the bottom of the industry table, declined slightly to 3.7 on the 10-point scale.   The life insurance companies with the top ratings were*: Company/CRI Rating Thrivent Financial for Lutherans/7.0 Pacific Life Insurance Co./6.5 Mutual of Omaha Insurance Co./6.4 Western-Southern Life/6.3 Nationwide Life Insurance Co./6.2 New York Life Insurance Co./6.1 Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co./6.0 Western Reserve Life Assurance Co of Ohio/6.0 Genworth Life Insurance Co./5.9 Principal Life Insurance Co./5.9   *Industry average is 5.1.   A full Scorecard is available from The Customer Respect Group at (978) 380.6128 or from the company website at http://www.customerrespect.com.     Sources: The Customer Respect Group, The Business Wire

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