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UK companies failing customers online

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Written by:
03/10/2012
Consumers are increasingly abandoning online applications due to lengthy, difficult online processes, according to brand specialists Global Reviews.

Financial, insurance and energy companies are providing such a poor experience online that they’re missing out on thousands of potential new customers and holding back the UK economy, according to a new report.

In a series of online customer experience studies across 48 companies in the UK, a score of 100% meant that a company is providing the ‘perfect online journey’ – one that is very easy and effective in getting people what they need.

Here is how they scored:

Credit card companies the worst offenders

Credit card providers average just 46% followed by mortgage lenders (49%) and gas/electricity providers (50%). Home insurance (58%) companies scored the highest followed by motor insurance (51%).

The scores are calculated from four key tests; a set of practical tasks, an attitudinal survey and an audit of the site’s features – all done by prospective customers – and an audit by independent experts.

Aviva home insurance leads the way

Of the 48 companies evaluated, Aviva home insurance scored the highest (67%) followed by LV= motor insurance (65%) and More Than (64%) home insurance.

Credit card providers First Direct (27%) and M&S Bank (36%) provide the poorest online customer experience followed by energy provider Scottish Power (39%).

Consumers extremely unlikely to recommend sites

On average less than 16% of potential customers would recommend company’s product application websites, whilst 52% would actively discourage friends or colleagues from visiting – giving UK companies an overall negative score of -36%.

Credit card company MBNA has the highest recommendation score (25%), whilst Scottish Power is the least likely to be recommended (-85%).

Rebecca Jennings, principal consultant at Global Reviews, said: “The majority of companies aren’t even halfway there in terms of providing the ideal online experience for potential customers.

“They need to address this painful process to avoid an explosive combination of social media’s amplification powers fused with the high percentage of applicants willing to actively discourage others to visit.”

 

Where companies score poorly

Global Reviews’ report measured 7 stages of a customers’ online journey – from the first encounter with the site, to researching credit cards, completing the application form and ‘next steps’.

Insurance and energy suppliers perform worst at the crucial “why buy from us” stage whilst finance companies score worst at the final “what happens next?” stage. Mortgage lenders score just 14% on this latter stage whilst credit cards score 22%.

Jennings continued: “Insurance and energy suppliers are very poor at selling or promoting themselves. It’s pretty strange why most companies fail to provide any information that helps reassure consumers they are making the right choice such as external awards, consumer opinions or press articles.”

Financial companies are especially careless at the final stage, often failing to provide straightforward information such as how long a decision will take or how they’ll be in touch. This support is essential, and not having it erodes user’s confidence in the provider from the very beginning of the relationship.”

Motor insurance companies have the most problematic application form process – only 30% of applicants successfully complete them – followed by the energy suppliers (44%). Mortgages narrowly have the highest completion rate (51%) followed by home insurance (50%) and credit card companies (49%).

Jennings added: “Not one of the 48 companies audited provides the necessary positive experience throughout the entire journey.

“Many do badly in helping applicants find relevant products and related charges; few make any attempt to convince customers why they should choose them, applications are hard and there’s a distinct lack of help and support.”

Jennings concluded: “Other than frustration, the key impact of the painful online application processes is that it handicaps consumers in getting the best or cheapest products for them.

“Given the problems society faces in today’s difficult financial climate, this not only hurts people’s pockets but is probably holding back the UK economy.

“For example, mortgage lenders could dramatically smooth the process through minor website amendments that help people get a mortgage more easily, ultimately, providing a welcome boost to the UK property market.”

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