How do you choose the best online service?

By Ross Jackson, senior marketing manager

There are many different protection online services available in the market and no doubt you’ll have used a few when submitting protection business. But why should you have to put up with slow, unresponsive sites for your business when you’re used to dealing with slick, modern user experiences in your personal life?  After all, your time is precious.

Developing an intuitive online experience

When we were designing our new online service, our first priority was to make the process of applying for protection quicker and simpler to save you time and money. We spoke to a number of advisers and based our development around what advisers told us they actually wanted.

So we developed our online service from the ground up focusing on the following areas:

  • A faster process – we’ve reduced the end-to-end processing time for a standard protection application. For non-standard applications, we’ve found that asking just a couple of extra questions can mean that, if we can’t give a point-of-sale decision, it’s more likely the underwriter will have all the information they need to make a decision without needing to trouble you or your client again.
  • Screen usability – we’ve improved this by using clearer questions with help text separated out.
  • Immediate decisions – we’ve increased this to 73 per cent of customers at point of sale. Some providers can inflate their straight-through processing rates (STPs) by including system-issued evidence or by having a high decline rate. Our measure of immediate decisions is cases that can be put in force (70 per cent of customers) and those cases that we tell you we’re not able to offer cover for (3 per cent of customers).
  • Fewer, more relevant questions – we’ve cut down the number of application questions by 30 per cent so we’re targeting the things we need to know.  This hasn’t just been by combining questions into one huge, lumbering, multi-faceted question as some providers do, but by looking at disclosure patterns and working out what questions really add value.
  • Device compatibility – have you noticed how most modern websites have lots of big buttons and simple navigation? That’s because they’re designed with a ‘mobile first’ approach so that you can use them on your tablet or smartphone (and we mean really ‘use’ them – not that horrible pinching and zooming nonsense!). Our online service works just as well on smartphones and tablets as it does on PCs and laptops. And you can start the application on one device, save it and then continue on another.
  • One simple view of client applications – our new dashboard lets you see all your clients’ protection applications in progress and the stages they’re at.
  • Client participation – we know that clients can drop out of the process if you’re waiting on them to provide answers to questions or supply supplementary information. And this information can sometimes be of a very personal nature. So we created a ‘send to client’ option to give you the choice to complete the application online yourself when you’re with a client, or to start the application and then send sections to them to complete in their own time.
  • Transparent pricing – isn’t it annoying when you do a quote for a client only to find the actual price is much higher once it’s been through underwriting? That’s why we developed ‘indicative pricing’ and ‘estimated decisions’. ‘Indicative pricing’ gives you an indicative price range if we’re unable to offer an instant decision online and have to refer your client’s application to our underwriters. ‘Estimated decisions’ allows you to estimate price and get an underwriting decision at any time during the online application journey based on the questions answered so far – at the click of a button.

Now we’re not claiming to be perfect and there are many more improvements we want to make to our online service to make your experience even better. In fact, we’ve a dedicated team that reviews and refreshes the underwriting rules that sit within the system and looks at ways of improving the underwriting journey.

But do other protection online services offer these benefits or similar?

Don’t take our word for it

We are delighted to have been awarded five stars for protection in the 2016 FTAdviser Online and Innovation Service Awards. These awards are voted for by advisers and demonstrate we’re doing the right things. They reward providers that deliver great service and are developing technologies to help advisers do business more effectively. We were also highly commended for the 5* Innovation award in 2016 for online service which was given to providers that advisers feel are headlining the industry through innovation and technology.

Over 1,100 advisers voted for these awards, and providers were rated on a number of areas including:

  • Overall functionality and design (including mobile)
  • Ease of transaction/business processing tools
  • Online product tools and literature
  • Flexibility of charging options
  • Innovation (including platform, apps, portal, tools)

If you were one of the advisers that voted for us then thank you! It means a lot. But if you’ve not yet experienced our new online service, you can find out more and try it for yourself here.