To meet customer expectations, website design requires a balance of art and science. In the insurance industry, our websites are not just competing with each other—we are also trying to live up to the expectations set by retailers, social media sites, news sites, and other online entities. And as if that wasn’t enough, websites now need to work across multiple contexts like tablets and touch screens. Times have certainly changed.
Also see: The New Customer Experience
For Allstate, I have the privilege and responsibility of leading the technology teams that build and maintain our customer- and consumer-facing systems. These teams have an excellent partnership with our eBusiness marketing team, helping make key strategies come alive.
From my perspective, there are some key differences between how to approach consumer-facing websites and how to take on internal sites or traditional IT projects. One of the biggest things is that with consumer-facing websites, you have to update the user experience regularly. The work is never “done.” Work is really a cycle of measure, analyze, test, prototype, launch — then repeat.
For example, we recently updated our online quoting tool. Using multiple layers of measurement to understand how people were interacting with our website. Through multiple rounds of research, we took steps to understand consumers’ behavioral and emotional needs in the quoting process, which told us what was working and what needed more focus.
Several mockups and prototypes were produced to discover what would help consumers the most. In this process we also engaged the knowledge of our agency force, asking them about consumers’ needs in the quoting process. One product of this collaboration was the creation of “what-if” scenarios that let customers, as they consider coverage options, choose certain events and see the potential net impact to their finances based on their coverage selections.
So, by combining website analysis and the input of our agency force, we ended up focusing less on the traditional sales process and more on the little things that consumers need to make decisions. The results were tools that enable customers to make educated, value-based decisions that meet their needs.
On this project, and in all of our work on consumer-facing websites, our goal is to create engaging and educational tools that build confidence and strengthen a customer’s relationship with Allstate. The key part of this strategy is aligning a customer’s digital conversations with what they’d expect from their local Allstate agent.
In preparing for this blog, I had a great conversation with Don Bordeau, our director of Online Sales & Service. When talking about online consumer interaction, he noted that our work is directly focused on engagement, not just the experience. All our applications must provide tools, resources and interaction points with a level of care, education and reassurance that exceeds consumer expectations and digital benchmarks. And, Don concluded, every visit online is a conversation with the Allstate brand, a brand we take very seriously, so we stay focused on making each and every conversation end with satisfaction and confidence.
I could not agree more. I hope you’ll share what you think matters most when designing consumer-facing websites.
Kevin Rice is Allstate's director of mobile, Internet and social technology.
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