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12:11 PM
Jennifer Cardello
Jennifer Cardello
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Hey! Where ’Ya Going?

In regard to rate quote, application and mission-critical process abandoners, the most frequent question is: Why are so many users leaving after the first page of the process?

We've worked with many financial institutions perplexed by rate quote, application and mission-critical process abandoners. The most frequent question is: Why are so many users leaving after the first page of the process? After evaluating numerous applications, rate quote tools and other key task flows, we have developed some rules to help financial institutions better analyze and diagnose abandonment issues.

Rule #1: Know how users ended up there in the first place

Web analytics are a wonderful thing, but if they're not tuned to measure the specific nuances of particular task flows, they're merely expensive tools that spit out value-light traffic data.

What you want to know:

  • Of the users who came to the first step of the process, how many came from within the site and from what page?
  • How many were sent directly from an e-mail?

    Why does this help? The major downfall of basic Web analytics is that the numbers tell you what happened, but not why they happened, because they do not record users' intentions. It is possible to ask users why they came to the site, but in lieu of doing that, knowing how they ended up on a particular page may lend some clues. There are basically three reasons why a user may end up on, for example, the first page of a rate quote process:

  • To get a quote and/or apply
  • To figure out how much effort is required to get a quote
  • To get more details about the product

    The reasons a user might drop off:

  • To get a rate quote and/or apply online -- Most of these visitors will not leave because their intention is to get a quote and they do. However, if they are asked for personal information without being reassured about how it will and will not be used, they are likely to bail. Some sites ask non-invasive questions first (car-related) to warm up the user and get them to invest in the process before delving into more secure information such as name, address and identification numbers.

  • To figure out how much effort is required to get a quote: Many times, users will investigate while at work, but not feel comfortable filling out an application online or will postpone the activity until they're at home.
  • To get more details about the product: Users should not be coming to this page to get more information. However, if there is a lack of product and rate information in the site, users are likely to end up at the first page of a process as their last-ditch effort to get some details. If they still can't get the information, they will leave the site and/or call the broker or firm. Therefore, it's imperative not just to look at the process itself for issues, but the surrounding pages that should support the user in making decisions.

    Rule #2: Know where they go

    Of the users who leave the process, where do they go? Off the site entirely? To other pages?

    If users go to other pages, it may indicate that there is information missing from the first page of the process, but users may think they can find it elsewhere on the site. If they leave the site entirely, it may mean that something on the page made the user uncomfortable enough to leave altogether, such as a personal information request without explanation or a fear-inducing legal disclaimer.

    Rule #3: Know which context-sensitive help they use

    Are 90 percent of the people who complete the task clicking on the link explaining why you need their Social Security number, but the abandoners are not? It's important to know which pieces of information successful users are utilizing and figure out ways to get that information in front of potential abandoners.


    These are things that add frustration to the process:

  • Not telling the user what information he should have handy
  • Not pruning out unnecessary questions based upon previous answers (e.g., Asking for co-borrower information when the user has specified an "Individual" application)
  • Not telling users what they get for participating (e.g., a custom quote that is good for 30 days)
  • Not telling users what they can do once finished with the quoting process (e.g., purchase online or purchase via phone with a quote confirmation code which will be accepted by the tele-service representative)

    These are things that chase users away:

  • Not disclosing, upfront, the estimated time required to complete the process
  • Not emphasizing that the process is quick and easy
  • Not summarizing and linking to privacy and security policies
  • Not emphasizing that a page requesting sensitive information is running on a secure server
  • Not explaining why a Social Security number is requested and what will happen with that information
  • Mentioning a credit check, but not qualifying it with an explanation
  • Requesting information not directly related to the requested product (e.g., Asking the user for information about his car ownership while applying for a personal loan)

    In summary, analytics can be a great aid in determining where there are issues within key processes. However, the processes and supporting pages must be designed with user objections and possible confusion in mind. While the elements of an application may make perfect sense to those of us in the financial services industry, and may pass through grueling compliance cross-examinations, there may be small details that scare away potential customers. It's important to review these processes using both quantitative and qualitative exams.

    Jennifer Cardello is Vice President, Customer Experience Services with Watchfire GómezPro in Waltham, Mass.. She can be reached at [email protected].

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