It’s real interesting that I just finished a series on online best practices, because I just ran across the perfect contrast — a carrier B2C site that is possibly interested in IdeaStar site redesign services. It will be interesting to see how they receive the proven tips and techniques that I’ve been blogging about.

So we have the “Consumer-Driven Solution”, the “Agent-Driven Solution”, and now — we have the “Bureaucracy-Driven Solution”!! I can’t take complete credit for the term — it came from a recent conversation with this carrier. The carrier was looking for a Consumer Driven Solution, but what they ended up with was most definitely a Bureaucracy-Driven Solution. (I won’t link to the site for obvious reasons.) Here are a few items which make it a Bureaucracy-Driven Solution:

  • The quote engine: You click on a “Get a quote” button for a term life policy. The next screen requests your state, date of birth, gender, and smoker/nonsmoker. Fine… But then there is a special link to click if you are a New York resident. Why confuse the prospect? They’ve already told you their state, just build the NY state-variation information into the quote engine.
  • When you click on “Submit”, you get a pop-up window with a lot of white space and no way to expand to full-screen. Then the benefit details are behind the product name. And they are not really benefit details, just qualification guidelines for getting that rate. Confusing.
  • Right below the quote, they have an option to add riders to the policy. OK, but the button says “Add Riders” rather than “Recalculate Premium” – or better yet, let them pick the policy, then give the option to add the rider.
  • The “Apply now” button is smushed next to “Download Application”. My guess is most people don’t even see it.
  • When I clicked on “Apply now” I got a pop of EIGHTEEN FORMS I need to download one-at-a-time and fill in on screen and/or print, with next-step instructions listed under the form names. A little intimidating and again, confusing.
  • Then when I click on the application form, up pops a PDF in a mini window — with none of the information included that I already typed in. Then, when I print the form, the window just sits there begging me to X-out, thus losing the instructions and the other forms. Did anyone test this for usability?
  • To cap it all off, there is no warm and fuzzy “thank you” page and there was a glaring typo on one of the quote pages.

And you wonder why the carrier told me, “This isn’t working too well. The site is really not performing up to expectations.” When asked who developed the site, the answer was, “IT in collaboration with Compliance, Marketing, and Operations.” Thus the term Bureaucracy-Driven Solution.

What really gets me is that the execs at this carrier will go to the next insurance conference and tell anyone who asks about “the Web” that online sales don’t work. Well of course it’s not going to work when you have IT and compliance driving the solution. I would love to, as Paul Harvey likes to say, “hear the rrrrest of the story” in terms of how this project went from zero to nowhere… How much time was spent in research? Design? Development? Testing? How much money was spent? Whose original idea was it? Did the IT department hijack the project from marketing where upon marketing threw up their hands and said, “Fine, you go dude!” and now the CMO is working for another carrier… etc. etc.