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Tim Carpenter
Tim Carpenter
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No Need to Ask

Sophisticated carriers are giving online policyholders what they want, before they ask for it.

Acting on mounting data gleaned from Web site analytics and examples from other industries, insurers are redesigning online servicing with the goal of bringing critical information and tasks to the front. They're accomplishing this goal by focusing on the secure landing page -- the first page the customer sees upon logging into online servicing.

Traditionally, a policyholder logging into online servicing will land on a page that provides little or no policy information and exists largely as a navigation hub users pass through before reaching pages that include the actual information or functionality they seek. This is a phenomenon that traces its roots to siloed legacy systems and a lack of sophistication about how policyholders want to use the online channel. As time passes and Web channel managers are armed with more usage data and better Web analytics to interpret the data, insurance carriers are beginning to better understand the disparity in adoption of different online user tasks.

What is resulting are redesigned secure landing pages that, in addition to providing links to functionality and deeper reporting, seek to deliver high-level policy and account information right on the page. This arms the online user with the information he would most likely seek out before beginning the most popular online tasks. The range of approaches to secure landing pages still varies widely, however, and some approaches are serving policyholders better than others.

SECURE LANDING PAGES WORK BETTER WHEN LEADING WITH INFORMATION

Rather than only providing users with a list of account numbers and navigation options, insurance carriers such as GEICO (Washington, D.C.) have turned the secure landing page into a dashboard view of mission-critical information and options. GEICO's site is relied upon heavily by policyholders who want to first check their current and most recently paid bills and then make payments online. In response, the carrier uses the main area of its secure landing page to display the amount and due date of the customer's current insurance bill as well as the amount and credited date of the last payment. This status-oriented overview obviates the need to visit multiple areas of the site to complete one holistic task. In effect, it allows many users to move directly to the payment stage with the information they want to have on hand.

This dashboard view can also serve the carrier's goal to communicate with the customer, realize cost savings and increase loyalty. To that end, Electric Insurance (Beverly, Mass.) and 21st Century (Los Angeles) both list a policyholder's current personal information (phone, e-mail address, mailing address etc.) on the secure landing page. Progressive (Mayfield, Ohio) includes mailing and e-mail addresses, while GEICO lists e-mail address. By including this information on the only page that every authenticated user sees rather than hiding it in a separate profile page, the insurer prompts customers to update out-of-date information. Policyholders that pay online rely less and less on paper communication, and it is only logical that carriers alert customers to wrong or outdated information along common online user paths. In the same light, a secure landing page can also list current paper suppression preferences and alert subscriptions, hinting to clients in a unique and personalized manner that they are not yet taking full advantage of all that online services have to offer.

MULTILINE CARRIERS ARE MORE LIKELY TO PROVIDE LESS CONTEXTUAL INFORMATION

Challenged to support multiple policies and policy types, multiline carriers tend to provide secure landing pages that only list available policies and navigation options. With minor exceptions, such as listing a nickname, owner or effective date, the secure landing pages of Liberty Mutual (Boston), Allstate (Northbrook, Ill.), State Farm (Bloomington, Ill.), MetLife (New York) and Nationwide (Columbus, Ohio) provide the online user with no information beyond their policy types and numbers. From there the user must click on a policy number or navigation option to ascertain actual policy information they might need before pursuing their intended task.

While it is harder to provide contextual policy information immediately upon login when the customer has multiple policies, it is still possible to list current contact information or to break out current bill amounts and due dates for multiple policies on the secure landing page. The bottom line for multiline carriers is they have an opportunity to provide a better initial experience for the policyholder logging into online servicing. Indeed, requiring a user to click into an individual policy in order to view account information is even more cumbersome for customers with multiple policies because often they must repeat the process for each policy in turn just to determine whether they have a bill due or whether their last payment was received.

In some cases, carriers' secure landing pages don't even list policies or account numbers, let alone other useful information. Amica's (Lincoln, R.I.) secure landing page lists only what a user can do, such as make a payment, and does not list the customer's policies until the customer chooses one of these options. The Hartford's (Hartford) AARP site leads with an interstitial page that thanks users for returning and lists what type of things they can do online. Only after clicking "Continue" does the user come to a page with actual navigation options. San Antonio-based USAA's secure landing page does not list current accounts or policies, showing only shortcuts to features such as My Accounts and Transfer Funds. Many USAA policyholders will find at least one option that isn't even relevant to their situation -- insurance-only customers will click on "Transfer Funds" only to learn that the functionality applies to paying a credit card bill or transferring funds between checking and savings accounts.

FURTHER EVIDENCE FOUND IN OTHER INDUSTRIES

While not all examples are so dire, no insurance carrier mastered the art of the helpful secure landing page. Examples from non-industry peers allow Web channel managers to identify parallels and think creatively about solutions that may not be offered by other carriers.

The first example comes from brokerages: While most brokerage secure landing pages simply list current accounts and corresponding balances, TD Waterhouse's (New York) landing page alerts the user to new messages and lists current buying power, balance, holdings and order status. Telecom provides another example, and Verizon's (New York) secure landing page for wireless customers displays the customer's account number, phone number, current unpaid balance, scheduled future automatic payments, date and amount of last payment and account usage (minutes) since the last statement. American Airlines' (Fort Worth, Texas) secure landing page lists contextual information such as miles balances, recent miles activity and personalized alerts while also enabling direct access to core functionality though on-page user input fields.

The opportunity these companies are responding to is the unmatched ability of a well-designed secure landing page to tell customers what they want to know before beginning critical tasks and provide the direct links to complete these tasks before the customer has to look for either. There's no one perfect approach to seizing this opportunity, and multiline carriers face particular challenges optimizing the secure landing page. But carriers that address this opportunity will find that online users, and ultimately the carrier itself, benefit from a rigorous and substantial focus on this single page.

Tim Carpenter is an insurance industry analyst with Watchfire GomezPro in Waltham, MA. He can be reached at tcarpenter@watchfire.com.

On The Net

www.geico.com
www.metlife.com
www.progressive.com
www.libertymutual.com
www.21st.com
www.electricinsurance.com
www.nationwide.com
www.thehartford.com
www.usaa.com
www.tdwaterhouse.com
www.verizon.com
www.amica.com
www.aa.com

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