By Jonathan Phillips - May 17, 2022
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The higher an online conversion rate is, the more money comes in. But how to make the web work better? There are three key areas and skills sets that insurers must equally focus on. Read about them in the interview below.
McKinsey found that an auto insurer with $10 billion in annual premium income can generate $400 million in additional premiums by boosting its online conversion rate by 20 percent. “That kind of value at stake gives insurers a powerful incentive to close the digital capabilities gap that separates them from the top performers”, McKinsey notes.
But what are the main digital capabilities gaps in the insurance industry? And what basic rules and best practices should insurers look at for a better web experience?
FintechOS has kicked off a series of webinars and interviews to address this topic. “The real problem however may not be one of skills gaps, but more of the approach and focus. I would say there are three key areas and skills sets that must be given equal focus”, explains Paul Houston, Head of Business Development and Marketing at Opquast, in an interview for FintechOS.
From your experience, what are the main digital capabilities gaps in the insurance industry?
The last couple of years the lack of AI skills and cybersecurity have been the biggest focus, and while the supply in both skills sets is growing significantly, keeping up with those skills is still a central challenge.
The real problem however may not be one of skills gaps, but more of the approach and focus. I would say there are three key areas and skills sets that must be given equal focus: 1. improving digital compliance, 2. user empathy and 3. crossdisciplinarity.
Insurance firms must really cover, in a robust manner, all I.T. compliance issues. Besides cyber security, you have eco-design, accessibility and privacy. For insurance companies, it is really important to ensure users feel secure and that they have an experience that reflects well on the brand. If, at any point, a user or potential customer has a lack of trust, which can be manifested by any non-compliance issue, then the opportunity or customer could be lost.
To be a proficient and digitally transformative organisation means that not just technical skills, but also user empathy, needs to be engrained within staff on a broad scale. We need staff to understand the key user requirements, including compliance, usability, and content production, and they must understand how those elements affect the user. All these elements create various synergies, which in the end, translates to a better user experience, increased trust, and thus, improved financial results. We must, therefore, cross-fertilize job knowledge wherever we can because most customer-facing projects share the same risks, so a little awareness of common risks goes a long way.
Also, a little shared knowledge of the key interfacing web professions is needed to bring teams together to work effectively on web projects. This is where creating a ‘digital culture’ really comes in. A digital culture is the foundation for successful organisations, particularly those focused on digital projects including websites and web applications. A recent Capgemini study found that 63% of people who are in a digital transformation process cite culture as the number one barrier, and 56% stated cross-department collaboration as their 3rd largest challenge. Altimeter & Capgemini study .
The bottom line here is that we need to empower our staff, train them, and enrich their work experience. It was the H.R. sentiment survey 2020 that linked employee experience above all other corporate objectives, including AI. Taking care of the employee experience (EX) even ahead of the user experience (UX) has great upsides because EX and UX are operationally, experientially, and ethically connected. We must learn from each to improve both, but to truly offer our customers an excellent experience, we must start with the foundations of our organisations and our employees.
What basic rules should financial services follow to improve UX/UI practices?
My answer to this question is a little less convoluted, you will be pleased to hear! UX/UI is surrounded by many lists of best practices. The problem is that most of the time, when you need to implement them, the right answer is dependent upon the context of the user and the requirements. So, it is mandatory to employ broad UX skills and be aware of the extensive skills needed for delivering good UX. It is possible to find rules and best practices that are not project-specific but that are universal and respect inclusion and the widest array of user cases. These are the sorts of rules that must not be ignored in order to give the user a base level of comfort and to address their common and fundamental requirements, and in some cases their fundamental rights.
At Opquast we have been maintaining such a set of open-source rules for the last 20 years. The latest version, V4, released last December, has 240 rules. The rules and the Opquast training cover the key IT compliance issues, such as accessibility, eco-design, privacy, security and complimentary skills such as UX, SEO, and e-commerce. The rules are very cross-disciplinary as well as multidisciplinary. Knowing the rules gives professionals an appreciation of other web profiles, but also the ability to improve their own role in synergy with those other disciplines. On a project basis, these rules are commonly used as a checklist to bootstrap the project, checking off the major risks and those foundational requirements of users.
What are your favourite examples of established best practices in ecommerce – and why?
Any best practice that keeps the user informed and builds their trust in your product is essential. Yes, a CTA is wonderful for signups, but they must be balanced with the overall UX journey. The UX journey is analogous to a very delicate tightrope walk that the user must traverse, and it is the content writers and technical teams jobs to keep the user feeling safe, informed, inspired and prevent them from falling off.
My favourite best practice is Opquast QA rule n°38 – “The nature and quantifiable characteristics of the products and services are indicated.” This relates to the findings of an earlier study by (User Interface Engineering, 2001). The study found that you can increase sales on your site by as much as 225% by providing sufficient product information to your customers at the right time. As I said above, all good quality and compliance issues commonly have a multiplier effect, and google SEO algorithms positively rank when product categorisation and descriptions are accurate.
Another favorite rule, which is also very relevant for the insurance industry is n°84 (see below). It relates to the point above about keeping the user informed. Opquast has many rules related to the user journey that a developer must be aware of but could easily forget. A simple checklist reduces mental load and ensures important user preferences are not forgotten.
Rule n° 83-85 (below) – Opquast details 27 rules relating to forms
Why is building teams with cross-disciplinary skills important to grow digital customer acquisition?
As the Altimeter study above noted, cross-departmental collaboration is a major blocker to real progress on all projects. Beyond that, if we arm professionals with cross-disciplinary skills, they will work in multidisciplinary teams more effectively. By introducing cross-functionality and cross-disciplinarity into our organisations, we move towards a culture where collaboration flows more naturally due to a better understanding, more empathy, a shared vocabulary and working knowledge.
Consider the interconnectedness of how implementing a more reserved and accessible design relates to effective eco-design and, potentially, better usability, and ultimately how that can increase page performance, and therefore improve your SEO.
All web skills are connected and affect the user experience, so we must also connect our teams and our processes to be effective. Then, our projects should run more smoothly, producing more seamless user experiences that build trust in the brand, and which see the user journey completed without friction or fault. This is precisely the approach of our ‘Mastering Web Quality Assurance’ foundational training at Opquast. In 2 days of training you can receive a certification and get assigned a level between novice and expert in the essential multidisciplinary skills and quality rules of the web.
Paul Houston was a speaker at a recent FintechOS webinar on digital insurance. Sign up here to watch the full webinar recording.
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