Michael Spiar, Broker Relations & Communications Specialist | Saskatchewan Broker
Your brokerage may offer an amazing digital experience, but are you creating an amazing user experience (UX) for your client?
It’s one thing to have mobile-optimized websites, online quoting, eSignatures and search engine optimization (SEO) strategies, but digital investment alone does not guarantee a fantastic UX.
How does your UX stand up to the competition? Testing it is one way to find out – or you could have someone test it for you. With this in mind, I became a “secret shopper” for a day, testing and comparing different experiences of searching for condo insurance in Saskatchewan.
Below, I document my digital interactions with three brokerages I Googled under the search term “Saskatchewan condo insurance.”
|Brokeage 1||Brokerage 2||Brokerage 3|
Prominent placement in Google
Prominent links to key information and online quote
Prominent call to action
|Opportunities for Improvement||
Limited online quote
Low-visibility call to action
Unintuitive quoting process
Limited mobile functionality
Unintuitive/error-prone quote engine
Brokerage 1 and the Mobile Experience
Brokerage 1 enjoyed an immense advantage over its competitors, ranking highly on Google. Links to key information, the process for obtaining an online quote and brokerage contact information were all prominent and easy to find, providing users with an easy and intuitive way to navigate and understand the site.
The online quoting engine was limited, however, with just a few questions before promising that an agent would follow up with quote details. While it provided users with some ability to research insurance independently, it may leave users who prefer a more substantial self-serve experience unsatisfied.
Most importantly, the site was desktop-only, meaning mobile users have to pinch and zoom in order to read the content on their smartphones. The lack of a mobile-optimized design is a serious issue. Research shows 61% of mobile users will abandon a non-mobile website within seconds, meaning a high percentage of users visiting the site due to its strong search engine optimization (SEO) will never convert into sales.
SEO isn’t everything. You generate a lot of traffic through high Google hits, but a poor UX can just as quickly redirect that traffic elsewhere.
Brokerage 2 and Setting User Expectations
Brokerage 2 provided a very good experience overall, with a mobile-responsive design that displayed well on both desktop and mobile. It provided users with an easy way to find and navigate the content. Furthermore, the online quoting engine provided options for both a quick and a detailed quote, catering to users who prefer varying levels of self-serve functionality.
However, the online quote presented opportunities for improvement:
- No explanation of the difference between a quick quote and a detailed quote
- I requested follow-up by email, but the confirmation page said I would receive a phone call
- No progress bar indicating how long the quote would take
- Data fields permitted incorrect answers
My follow-up came promptly, via email as requested. However, the broker informed me that the value of personal possessions I entered was below the minimum requirement, so any policy I purchase would be for the higher amount.
This raises the question of why the online quote did not inform me of this minimum value beforehand, or why it failed to validate my data before I submitted it. Perhaps the brokerage deliberately chose to allow users to submit bad data and simply handle it via direct interaction with a broker at a later stage. However, with thoughtful instructions and (if needed) error messaging, it is usually possible to communicate what is required from a user at an earlier stage.
Brokerage 3 and Heuristics
Brokerage 3’s website showed many best practices, including strong content, easy navigation, and a prominent call to action – on its desktop site. Rather than use a mobile-responsive design that displays well on all devices, this brokerage maintained a separate mobile website optimized solely for display on a smartphone. The separate mobile site was limited in functionality, providing contact information, plate renewal and newsletter sign-up.
Mobile users looking for a quote would either have to visit the full site, requiring them to pinch and zoom, or skip their independent research and simply call a broker for their quote.
The quoting engine itself had useful features, including drop-down menus with pre-determined answers for many questions – an incredibly valuable feature for people using mobiles, where typing is difficult. It also featured a progress bar and the option to save my quote and return to it later.
The UX drawbacks of Brokerage 3 are best captured by “heuristics,” the principles of UX that support users in learning how to use and what to expect from a website. Web usability expert Jakob Nielson has a set of heuristics that includes a few in particular that were drawbacks at this brokerage:
|Principle of Heuristics||UX Issue|
|Error handling (simple explanation of what happened and how to fix it)||Failure to process my quote with no explanation provided|
|Consistency and standards (ensuring users understand what different words, situations or actions mean)||
First page of quoting engine was to select my province, even though the brokerage only operates in Saskatchewan
Indicating I would have to follow up on the quote failure myself, then sending an automated email anyway
Follow-up email assumed I had successfully obtained a quote, and asked me to fill out a PDF to provide much of the same information I had already submitted online
While Brokerage 3 displayed many UX best practices, there are many opportunities to improve the mobile and quoting
experience to remove pain points and create less work for users.
Saskatchewan brokerages clearly understand the need for digital tools. However, brokers should regularly review their website from a customer’s point of view and ideally test their websites and other digital products with end-users to gain the most powerful insights. The UX should be as seamless and easy as possible and user testing will help you get there.
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UX Reading Recommendations
- Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability by Steve Krug
- The Elements of User Experience by Jesse James Garrett
- Web Form Design: Filling in the Blanks by Luke Wroblewski
- 10 Usability Heuristics for User Interface Design by Jakob Nielsen