If you are like me, you probably receive sales letters from auto insurance companies on a regular basis. Over the past month, however, I seemed to have received more than the usual amount. So, even though I am happy with my current insurance provider, I thought I would check out some of the competition. After all, it is always a good idea to get quotes from other providers before renewing a policy, right?
Well, just this morning, I sat down with my armload of sales letters and my computer so I could start doing a bit of online research. While most of the Websites I visited did a pretty good job getting their message across, a couple of them have a long way to go if they hope to win me over as a customer.
The first problematic site I visited was for High Point Auto Insurance company (highpointins.com). When I visited the site, it prompted me to enter my zip code in a small yellow box located in the bottom left corner. This is a pretty standard feature on insurance Websites, so I didn’t think much of it. The trouble began when I clicked “go” to get my price quote.
When a new page appeared, everything seemed OK; I noticed that the new page read “Save $500 on New Jersey car insurance” and that my zip code was entered in a new search box found on the new page. After clicking the box to agree to the terms and conditions and clicking “go” once more, I got redirected to the same page. In short, I was stuck in an endless loop and I never did manage to get my price quote. The result? I likely won’t bother to pursue a quote from this company any further, which means the company’s advertising dollars were wasted.
The next troubling Website was for Amica (myamica.com) insurance company. After entering the Web address, I was redirected to a page with a longer URL. I am assuming this was in an attempt to track leads in order to determine the success of the direct mail campaign, but I can’t be sure. At any rate, the Web page featured a large orange button in the upper right corner that read “Get an ONLINE Quote Now.” After clicking this button, a new page containing three questions appeared. I answered these questions and received an error message telling me to “please select a state.”
As you can see by the copy of the Webpage shown below, it is easy to see why I accidentally left out this information.
There is a box asking me to select my state, but it is located above the navigation/progress bar. As a result, I simply overlooked it the first time. No big deal, right? After all, I just need to select my state now and I should get a price quote. Unfortunately, that’s not how it happened. After I selected my state, I still received the same error message – even after trying it three times!
Since I am a Web designer, I know that there are many different factors that can affect the effectiveness of a Website. Problems with cross-browser compatibility, for example, can cause these types of issues to occur. With this in mind, I decided to test out a different browser because I was using Google Chrome on my Mac at the time. When I tried a different computer with Google Chrome, I got the same results. But, when I tried a different browser, the site worked just fine.
So, what’s the bottom line? Quite simply, these Websites make it impossible for a customer to get a quote. When I was browsing these sites, I was browsing them as a user, not as a Web designer. But, in order to get the site to work properly, I had to put my Web design knowledge to work. How many “regular” customers will even consider trying a different browser in order to get the site to work properly? And, even among those who do have the knowledge to take this extra step, how many will actually bother to do so?
With all of the money that the companies put into designing the Websites and with launching a direct mail campaign, you would think they would make certain their sites functioned properly. This just goes to show why it is so important to hire a design company that can create a Website that will work with virtually any technology scenario. It also illustrates why one company might quote a project for just $1,000, while another will quote the same project at $6,000 or more. While the extra cost might seem a bit steep at first, it will pay for itself when more potential customers are reached and converted into paying customers.