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Plymouth Rock Revamps Website

Auto carrier uses insights gleaned from the development of its mobile site to make its traditional website more intuitive for customers and more useful for agents.

Boston-based Plymouth Rock Assurance ($295 million in 2009 premiums) knew that its website,, which launched in 2008, wasn't meeting the needs of its customers and agents. To rectify the situation, as the auto insurer embarked on a redesign of the site it turned to those users to find out what they needed in terms of online services, relates Marianne DoranCollins, Plymouth's director of online and consumer experience.

"We hadn't made many changes to the site, and, based on customer feedback, we wanted to make sure the key things that were important to agents and policyholders were easily accessible to them," says DoranCollins. "We also wanted to make the site fun and make it easy for customers to understand insurance, so we're interjecting humor and tips, trying to be innovative."

Many of Plymouth Rock's insights actually came from studying the use of the company's recently launched mobile site, DoranCollins notes. The mobile-optimized homepage, which Plymouth Rock introduced in May, offers users clearer, straighter paths to certain services. "The [mobile] application was really clean, and the things customers wanted to get to, like find an agent or pay a bill, were at the top and the forefront of the mobile application. So when we began building the website, we made sure all that resonated there as well," DoranCollins says, adding that Plymouth expects to launch the redesigned website in early 2011.

In addition to the mobile site, Plymouth Rock also released an iPhone application before it began the revamp of its standard website. DoranCollins stresses that the company will continue to observe how one particular service area is used in the mobile app before it finalizes how that service is presented online. "One of the things I was going to build into the website was more functionality around claims. Right now, we really just have some forms, a checklist, etc.," she explains. "But I really want to see how the iPhone app is utilized for claims before we move more capability over to the public website."

But even before any services can be enhanced and made more accessible online, Plymouth Rock needs to do more to encourage customers to register on the public site, DoranCollins acknowledges. "We want to make [the log-in area] more visible, because we feel like that might be why we're not seeing the sign up we want," she explains. "We are also doing a better job explaining what customers get when they log in to our site. Things like e-documents, paying a bill, tracking a claim, viewing a policy -- all those things we're making easier to do. We think by improving the positioning of those things that we're going to get more and more customers actively using that functionality."

Agents of Change

On the agent side, Plymouth Rock also is beefing up its portal, Agent Web, to make marketing materials and co-branding opportunities more easily available, DoranCollins reports. The company also will use the new portal to distribute information to agents that can help them improve their businesses, she adds.

"We'll post updates to what is happening at Plymouth Rock, such as press releases, articles and agent bulletins, and some syndicated content to help agents know what's going on in the industry and with customers," DoranCollins says. "We're also being more aggressive with co-branding related to things like site development and SEO [search engine optimization]."

For example, Plymouth Rock has built a service to notify customers when their driver's licenses and registrations are up from renewal; the carrier's agents can add the service to their own sites, DoranCollins notes. Plymouth also is running a campaign to discourage texting while driving in light of a new Massachusetts law, and the insurer encourages its agents to put banner ads from Agent Web on their websites that link back to campaign-related content hosted by the carrier or the agent.

Of course, the ability to change and update content is a key strategic driver behind the site revamp, DoranCollins relates, adding that Plymouth Rock is using Waterloo, Ontario-based Vignette's content management system to make sure that its marketing department can update content for customers and agents on the fly as business requires. "We've created a cross-functional team with the technology group to develop and launch the site. Our tech group is going to implement it, but we'll have content management on the marketing side," she says. "We'll manage creative and execution moving forward." n

Nathan Golia is senior editor of Insurance & Technology. He joined the publication in 2010 as associate editor and covers all aspects of the nexus between insurance and information technology, including mobility, distribution, core systems, customer interaction, and risk ... View Full Bio

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