Photo: Flickr / joncandy
Most insurers do not create user-friendly sites — instead, they are complicated and confusing, and they usually fail at making it easy to find auto insurance quote and policy information, according to a study released this week by the Customer Respect Group (CRG).[Compare car insurance quotes now.]
“Overwhelmingly, consumers go to websites with specific goals and to get things done without unnecessary fuss,” says Terry Golesworthy, the CRG’s president. “Not everything can be resolved online, but visitors should find relevant facts without the need for endless surfing and searching.”
The report, “Auto-Insurers Online Self-Service Report 2012: Leaders and Laggards,” commends Esurance, giving it the highest ranking of the 20 company websites studied. Sites that aggregate car insurance comparison quotes from many insurers were not included. The companies studied were chosen for various reasons, including size, availability in several states and “strong presence in the consumer market,” according to the CRG.
After Esurance, Liberty Mutual and GEICO rounded out the top three.
Here’s the list of the good, the bad and the mediocre compiled by the CRG, with comparative scores on a 1 to 10 scale:
- Esurance (8.6 score)
- Liberty Mutual (8)
- GEICO (7.4)
- Progressive (6.8)
- Allstate (6.7)
- Erie (6.7)
- Nationwide (6.1)
- State Farm (5.8)
- Amica (5.8)
- travellers (5.7)
- American Family (4.5)
- USAA (4.3)
- Unitrin Direct (4.2)
- Auto-Owners.com (4.1)
- The Hartford (4)
- MetLife Auto (3.7)
- Mercury (3.4)
- Farmers (3.2)
- Auto Club of Southern California (3.1)
- Sentry (2)
The CRG looked at three components when judging a website:
- Browsing, defined by Golesworthy as gauging how successful the consumer would be when using the site navigation.
- Direct access, or how successful the consumer would be when using site tools such as search.
- Content, or how likely the consumer would be to complete the task based on the content found.
The report’s main conclusions are as follows:
- Company-centric websites are too complex, which can thwart browsing: “Many auto insurance sites are designed around internal departments, such as ‘products,’ ‘claims’ and ‘customer service’ with some form of ‘learning centre’ added,” according to the report. “All too often the consumers are forced to understand how the company is organised to know where to start their tasks.” This often frustrates customers, who may shake their heads and just give up on finding the information they crave.
- Content may be missing, repeated or poorly worded: “One of the negative consequences of the departmentally structured website is that content may logically fall into more than one area, resulting in multiple, often inconsistent versions,” the report states. “There is also a clear tendency to use industry jargon, which may be completely incomprehensible to most people.” Again, visitors may “quickly abandon sites they cannot understand” or find themselves wading through redundant or conflicting information, says Golesworthy.
- Site search flops: “Many consumers use search by default to navigate websites, and this tendency increases when browsing is confusing,” according to the report. The study found too much information presented in the results, often completely irrelevant.Golesworthy notes that consumers shouldn’t have to “pick through various pages, blog posts (and) content from irrelevant site sections” based on vague or unrelated searches.
The solutions, according to the study, begin with insurers and Web designers committed to making browsing, search and content less complicated and bewildering. Such improvements can help sites “align with what people want” and make them less of a “maze,” according to the study. Amazon.com is one of the best examples of the right way to do things, notes Golesworthy. (See: Cheap auto insurance: Find cheap car insurance in 8 easy steps.)
Esurance shines at providing car insurance quotes online
In applauding Esurance, the study says it had the best content and “offered a site search that had consistently good results.”
Lisa Ward, Esurance’s vice president of customer experience and communications, attributes the success to understanding the fast-paced needs of Web surfers. “(Our) customer-centric approach gives consumers easy access to information and the ability to quickly make updates to their policy with as few clicks as possible,” she says.
Liberty Mutual, ranked second overall, was tops in navigation, second in content and third in search.
GEICO, third overall, was second in navigation, third in content and fourth in search.
>>>More articles from Mark Chalon Smith