Industry Research : Insurers Struggle to Keep Pace with Customer Demand
Insurers are struggling to keep pace with demand as website visits by insurance shoppers and customers servicing their accounts via smartphones and tablets has become more prevalent, according to the J.D. Power 2015 Insurance Website Evaluation StudySM (IWES) released.
The 2015 IWES measures online consumer experiences among shoppers seeking quotes and existing customers seeking typical policy servicing activities. The study examines the functional aspects of websites rather than such aesthetic aspects as look and feel. Consumers performed a number of tasks online and then rated the ease of performing them on a 5-point scale. Their ratings were used to compute an overall index for shopping and service experience based on a 500-point scale.
The percentage of consumers shopping an insurer via smartphones and tablets has increased; for smartphones (+14 percentage points) to 42 percent, and for tablets (+11 percentage points) to 43 percent. While satisfaction with the online shopping experience has improved significantly (+17 points) to 369 from 2014, satisfaction with the service experience has declined (-5) to 420 from 2014.
"Insurance companies are particularly challenged when it comes to designing their websites. Not only do they have to keep up with the changing technology as more consumers use tablets and smartphones, but they also have to build a site that meets the demands of both shoppers and current customers," said Valerie Monet, director of the insurance practice at J.D. Power. "While providing an easy quoting experience and making sure information on the website is easy to find will help bring shoppers through the door, customer service expectations for online and mobile servicing are being led by other industries, such as banking."
In an effort to deliver a consistently superior online experience for both shoppers and customers, insurers have deployed websites with responsive design technology, enabling insurance shoppers and customers to view the same website content across a variety of devices and screen sizes, including desktop, smartphone and tablet. Although 10 of the 20 largest insurers offer responsive design, this is not nearly enough to meet shopper and customer demand.
Initial results show that responsive design is a similarly satisfying experience among both shoppers (373 responsive design vs. 365 traditional design) and current customers (421 responsive design vs. 420 traditional design), compared with a more traditionally designed website.
However, there are differences in that experience when performance is analyzed by device, with the responsive website servicing experience on a tablet not as satisfying as the traditionally designed website servicing experience on a tablet (410 vs. 425, respectively). Additionally, in other industries, responsive design websites struggle to provide an equally satisfying experience on smartphones and desktops, despite the site offering the same content/functionality.
According to Monet, "If the site doesn't function well, regardless of the device being used, shoppers may turn to other sources for their insurance needs, while current customers will become frustrated trying to perform the tasks that are most important to them, driving them to contact their agent or a call center. These must be key considerations for insurers when making website enhancements."
- The overall service satisfaction index average is 420 (on a 500-point scale), down 5 points from 2014.
- The task declining the most year over year is pay your bill (-.06 point on a 5-point scale), which is the reason cited by most auto insurance customers for visiting their insurer's website1 (39%).
- The most difficult self-service tasks performed by customers include updating their customer profile; printing/requesting replacement ID cards; and viewing policy and related information.
- Fifteen of the 20 insurers in the study post annual declines, with some declining significantly in service satisfaction.
- The overall industry shopping satisfaction index has improved by a significant 17 points year over year.
- While ratings for all the shopping tasks have improved from 2014, the most notable improvements are in request a quote (+0.17 point); compare prices and/or coverage (+0.17); and research policy information (+0.15).
- Researching policy information is the most difficult aspect of the shopping experience, while finding contact information is the easiest.
- Nineteen of the 20 insurers included in the study post year-over-year improvements, with 10 increasing significantly in shopping satisfaction.
The 2015 IWES is based on more than 3,700 service evaluations and more than 4,600 shopping evaluations. The study was fielded in February and March 2015.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Friday, May 1, 2015