In previous posts on home insurance, I've looked at how customers search, and how landing pages perform

Here I'll look at the user experience during the quote process and issues which may deter visitors. 

The quote process

Anything which involves form filling for users has the potential to be a real pain. 

The average ecommerce checkout can present issues, but insurance quotes are a much more involved process with more information required from customers. 

There'a a lot that can go wrong if forms are overcomplicated, time-consuming, or unclear for users. 

Whatusersdo identified a number of critical issues in a recent study on home insurance sites. 

These are problems which are likely to cause users to abandon a website. They are as follows: 

The quote process: how to avoid annoying your customers

As we can see, the majority of problems related to the quote process, and here are the most complained about problems: 

Keep form size to a minimum

Long web forms are intimidating and have the potential to deter many users. Some will simply abandon rather than take the time to fill them in. 

For some websites, long forms are unavoidable, so the key is to break them up into manageable chunks and make them user friendly. 

Use progress indicators

This gives customers an idea of where they are on the process. If they can see the 'finishing line' it encourages then to keep going. 

Offer online quotes

I'm amazed this point even needs to be made in 2015. 

NFUMutual is clearly aware that users are searching for home insurance quotes online, as it pays good money for PPC ads on the term. 

This money may be better saved until they design an online quote form, as much of the traffic it generates is likely to be wasted thanks to this: 

Don't ask irrelevant questions

People have enough work to do completing forms without adding extra questions which don't help the quote process. 

A number of users in the study did complain about being asked for car insurance renewal dates.

I can see the attraction of grabbing extra information for other marketing, but if it's at the expense of annoying potential customers then it may not be worth it. 

Avoid silly validation issues

Here, adding a space to my mobile number triggers an error message.

The message is clear, but if there's a required format for data entry which users may not adhere to, make it clear. 

An even better solution is to anticipate potential user 'errors' in advance to avoid such problems. 

Make address entry as easy as possible

If there's a shortcut available, use it. Postcode lookup and prefilling details is one way. Another is predictive search. 

The example below from Peacocks demonstrates how a user can search for a company name and find relevant address matches even when they don’t know the full address.

Try not to time users out

Having completed step one of the quote process on direct line, I had to pause to take a call. Less than five minutes later I return to the site only to see this:

There are reasons for some sites to restrict session timings, such as ticket sites with limited availability. However, insurance sites should not be too hasty. 

Here, I actually completed step one and moved on to the quote, but then had to start from scratch thanks to this. I suspect most customers would abandon here.  

Offer help with form filling

Some questions may puzzle users, so provide help where possible. Here AXA shows information when users mouse over form fields. 

Graham Charlton

Published 19 March, 2015 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is editor in chief at SaleCycle, and former editor at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin.

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Comments (1)

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Roland Yegorov, Customer support manager at Socialphotos

Good post. We also use progress bar / steps when a user first registers. It frustrates a lot less than a huge page with input fields.

Also, as 37 signals like to say - less is more. I follow this principal and it works best almost in every case.

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