December 4, 2018 | Written by: Dan Himmerich
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In recent years, there has been great progress in advancing user experience, online buying capabilities and omnichannel coherence. Yet, despite these advances in user experience (UX) design, user experience in the insurance industry has yet to be fully understood and perfected.
Some recent trends in user interface (UI) thinking involve incorporating “persona” and “customer journey” concepts into user interface design. UI/UX designers seek to understand the archetypes who will be interacting with technology, and work hard to create an experience that will delight those who elect to visit their websites, mobile apps or kiosks; call robotically enhanced contact centers; or visit carefully designed branch or agent offices.
Challenges with current insurance user experience design
Too often, these carefully thought-out designs, and meticulously planned journey maps, clash with the reality of buyer motivation, learning style and decision-making approaches. In short, experiences planned by design teams tend to reflect the biases of the designers, rather than the psychology of the insurance consumer. This bias is the predictable outcome of the exclusion of dynamic, psychometric analysis-driven adaptation during the journey. Designers fail to differentiate reason from motivation (for example, why am I buying insurance vs. what is my motivation for buying insurance), and do not adequately understand the variations in individual approaches to making rational decisions.
Recently, I visited the web site of a major life insurance company. The first page I read made it pretty clear that buying insurance was an obligation that I should take seriously. In the event of some dire situation, my family will need the protection that I am thinking about – just like the families of hundreds of others who have made similar, responsible decisions.
Appealing to buyers this way will resonate with that segment of the population for whom core values of reliability, responsibility, community and “doing the right thing” are paramount. However, my motivations are quite different. I am motivated by core values of independence, autonomy, individuality and “avoiding dependence on others.” For me, a much better approach might have been to illustrate how insurance can – in similar, dire situations – ensure that I maintain my independence, and avoid becoming (in my mind), a burden on my family.
Later, as I navigate through my “journey” and approach its conclusion (buying decision), I can see the looming decision in front of me – the “last click.” For me, (reference previously declared values) making decisions – committing to something without an exit clause – is difficult. More often than not, I will abandon the process, and tell myself that I will come back to it later.
What can those working with user experience designers, content producers and developers do about these biases and the negative impacts they can have on user experience?
Solutions to improve user experience
One obvious approach is to include experts in human psychology in the design and development processes, and by adding a scientific basis to understanding and predicting what it means to different people who traverse the same general experience we create through our design and development processes.
Less obvious, perhaps, but certainly emerging in the form of cognitively enabled chatbots, is the concept of dynamic experience mutation driven through the use of real-time cognitive analysis applied to each user visit to each digital channel.
IBM® Watson™ Tone Analyzer is an example of this type of technology. This service interprets, through linguistic analysis, the emotional and language tones in written text. When applied to interactive experience models, it can be used to enable real-time adaptive change in customer journeys.
More sophisticated cognitive services (such as IBM® Watson™ Personality Insights Service) extend linguistic and written text analytics to develop insights aligned to needs, values, and other personality characteristics (the Personality Insights Service aligns to the five-factor model developed into “The Big Five” by personality researchers Paul Costa and Robert McCrae).
Imagine if the insurer were able to discern my motivation for visiting their web site, understand the application of these insights to the flow of information and path of the journey and ultimately lead to a customized “last click” experience that were tailored to my particular needs when making buying decisions.
The reality is that customer experience is unique to the individual. Although we have made great progress from the first days of multi-channel, and subsequent ‘’uniform across device type” omnichannel experiences, we still have a long way to go before we can reliably support the wants, needs, intentions and motivations of individuals whom we serve.