The power of aggregators in energy

power of aggregator

In the most recent consumer survey published by the Irish Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU), it was revealed that the number of electricity customers who have switched suppliers has increased 5% each year since 2014. The rise in switching suppliers is a key indicator of increased retail competition and is potentially making way for a new kind of marketing in the energy sector focused on consumers’ desire to hunt down the best deals rather than relying on previous experience or trust in a brand.

Recent Global Reviews studies have seen evidence of this across the Irish energy market with an increased use of aggregator sites coupled with a drop in choosing a provider based on trust. In Q4 2017, 47% of consumers were using aggregator sites as part of their research process, and this has since jumped up to 61% in the Q2 2018 study. Benefiting the most from this rise is Switcher.ie which went from 30% of consumers visiting them in Q4 2017 up to 49% in Q2 2018.

After consumers conducted their research online, we asked them what they thought about the experience. Overall most consumers found the process good/easy. More specifically, 32% called out their use of an aggregator and how easy it made comparing providers with some suggesting that they had not previously considered changing providers or what other deals/offers are available and through the process of researching and discovering sites such as Switcher.ie and Bonkers.ie will consider switching in the future.

Consumers felt the experience was easy when using aggregators to research energy

The use of aggregators is impacting which brands consumers prefer

Irrespective of whether consumers use an aggregator or not, Energia and Bord Gais hold their place as #1 and #2 preferred brands at both the shortlist and final preference stages. However, Energia enjoys quite an increase in consumer preferences amongst those who used an aggregator. Overall they were finally preferred by 25% of consumers, but were preferred by 33% by those who used an aggregator.

It is not just the bigger players who are benefiting from an increase in aggregator activity. Newcomer, Just Energy, was shortlisted by 19% of all consumers, but was considered by an impressive 29% of aggregator users bringing them in line with Electric Ireland who was preferred by 39% of all consumers only to see that number drop to 30% amongst those who used an aggregator.

Brands shortlisted Just Energy was shortlisted by more people who used aggregatorsFinal brand preferenceEnergia preferred brand by people who used aggregators

To better understand why there is a shift in brand preferences amongst those who used aggregator sites, we looked at the reasons why consumers prefer one brand over another.

Having the best energy plan and being a reputable brand were both selected by 30% of all consumers as reasons for selecting a brand, however, it is a different story for those who used an aggregator. Having the best energy plan was selected by 36% while being a reputable brand dropped down to 26%. Being a current customer, previous use and trust in the company were also selected by fewer people when an aggregator site was used.

Reason for selecting a brand

Final preference all consumers vs used aggregators

Has the increased use of aggregators when researching energy providers caused the drop in trust or has the drop in trust prompted the uplift in aggregator use? Either way, energy providers obviously need to be turning their attention to aggregators if they want to be considered by consumers.

It should be noted that Irish energy providers are not alone in this apparent drop in trust amongst consumers. The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) recently reported that only 39% of Australians trust their energy provider, down from 50% in 2017. This indicates that this is a global problem for the industry, not just a domestic one. It could, therefore, be beneficial for the energy industry to look towards other industries for ideas on how they can improve the general perception of the industry.

Check out our recent webinar covering the dwindling perception of the energy sector in Australia:

Global Reviews is currently running researching into the digital maturity of brands across the energy sector to better understand what the future holds for the industry as well as what consumers really want from their provider. Contact us to learn more about how energy providers are performing locally and internationally.

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Motor insurance quote forms are too long according to 31% of consumers

motor insurance

The most common issue faced by consumers when applying online for motor insurance revolves around the length of the quote form and how long it took to complete it with 31% reporting it as being a problem.

Two key questions asked by insurance providers are:

  1. How should I set the quote tool?
  2. What is the impact that the layout has on the actual and perceived length of the form?

Essentially, should it be one question per page with a longer click journey or should the form be presented on one long page in an accordion format?

In reviewing the presentation of the quote form including how many questions are asked and how many pages of questions there are – we gained some insight as to what is making consumers more satisfied and likely to complete the form and go on to purchase a policy.

Churchill and Direct Line both use the same quote tool which contains all questions within the one page.  Additionally, there are fewer questions within the quote form than any other site assessed with just 32 questions on a single page required to get a quote compared to LV= and Admiral who have 40 and 48 questions respectively presented across three pages.

Based on the quote experience, consumers were asked their likelihood to buy from a particular brand. Direct Line and Churchill had the highest proportion of consumers stating that they felt the website met their needs and they would choose the brand as their provider at 14% and 10% respectively.

Fewer questions in quote form equal more likely to buy

Despite having the shortest quote forms, consumers on Churchill’s and Direct Line’s websites still held concerns over the length of time the quote took.

View our webinar – Optimising the quote process & improving customer expectations

Covering all aspects of the quote form including the impact different question formats (radio button, drop down, text entry) have on the physical and cognitive effort to complete the form.

For more insights download our FREE industry report.

Motor Insurance quote process

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NatWest visitors are the fastest and most satisfied when looking for mortgage rates

Home loans Fruition

Finding the right home loan is as confusing and overwhelming as picking the right roof tiles to match the bricks. It is, therefore, imperative that home loan providers make the online research process as straightforward and satisfying as possible in order to minimise confusion and ensure strong conversions.

In November 2017, Global Reviews tracked 350 consumers as they searched online for a home loan provider. Consumers were split across desktop (n=200) and mobile (n=150). After conducting their own searches, they were directed to one of eight provider websites to complete further research.

Once consumers had looked around the homepage, we asked them to find all the available mortgage rate options for first time buyers (new customers). In doing this, it was found that those who completed the task quicker typically had a higher satisfaction rate with the process of completing the task. As can be seen in the chart below, NatWest visitors are the fastest and most satisfied when looking for mortgage rates for first time buyers. Potential customers are getting hugely different experiences across different sites with a 1:28 difference between Lloyds Bank and NatWest.

Time vs Satisfaction home loans

NatWest had the fastest average task completion time with 2:14 minutes and a satisfaction rating of 81%. On the other end of the scale was Lloyds Bank with an average time of 3:24 minutes and a satisfaction rating of 73%.

Whilst a shorter task completion time generally means higher satisfaction, a longer task completion time isn’t necessarily driving dissatisfaction but rather an inability to find the right answer. This indicates underlying usability issues supported by 20% claiming starting where to look was not easy.

The following chart highlights some of the most common issues consumers faced when trying to locate the product range. From a navigation point of view, the harder it is to find where to start looking as well as the inability to find what they’re looking for is bringing down satisfaction levels amongst customers. There is a strong negative correlation of -0.93 between problems encountered and satisfaction.

The most common issues consumers faced when trying to locate the product range

By comparing key landing pages for home loans we can see that allowing visitors to easily find what they are looking for with minimal effort and scrolling is key. Successful sites focus on key calls to action within the hero images and top navigation. Having a clearly laid out site with multiple entry points allows for the different preferences consumers have. Some consumers will naturally gravitate to the top navigation, others will look to the hero image and some will look down the page to find where they want to go next.

NatWest directs traffic through a comprehensive menu catering to both new and existing NatWest customers as well as delivering multiple entry points depending on customer research preferences. The menu is split into product, customer type and application stage, as well as grouping in relevant tools such as calculators to help in the research process.

NatWest directs traffic through a comprehensive menu catering to both new and existing NatWest customersLike NatWest, Lloyds Bank also uses the main header menu to direct consumers. However, they also provide additional entry points throughout the homepage. Within the hero image there are quick links to popular pages. Sitting just below the hero image are more links to key product pages. Having three navigation areas caters for different types of browsers and therefore aids in creating a user-friendly site.

Lloyds bank has three navigation areas catering for different types of browsers By giving consumers clear options and starting points can mean a huge difference between keeping them on site or losing them to a competitor.

To learn more download our FREE industry report and view our latest webinar covering off more ways to understand and improve your conversion rates using our Fruition methodology.

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4 tips for presenting entry requirements on university websites

Higher Learning

In October 2016, Global Reviews conducted online behavioral research using 650 prospective students, measuring and analysing 20 university sites via our Digital Sales Effectiveness (DSE) programme.

Each brand has unique areas where it performs better or worse than others specifically regarding a student’s ability to locate and understand entry requirements in order to find the best course to meet their needs. Each of the following elements can influence just how effective your website is at helping prospective students find the right course for them:

  • Formatting
  • Language
  • In-content links
  • Signposting and headings

The data collected from our desktop Digital Sales Effectiveness studies can reveal which areas throughout the consideration and application stages of selecting a course to study, are helping or hindering online conversions.Higher LearningFor best practice examples and more information, watch our webinar recording now:

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Why UK mobile providers are losing 29% of consumers who initially preferred them

68% of consumers have a preferred brand in mind before they begin their research into mobile phone providers. However, top mobile providers, EE, O2, Tesco Mobile, Three and Vodafone are losing an average of 29% of those consumers who had initially preferred them.

Where did this 29% go and why were they unable to retain them?

Recent research from Global Reviews looks at just how much these initial preferences influence which brand consumers eventually go on to select as their preferred provider to purchase though.

Although Vodafone were only able to retain 63% of those who initially preferred them, they were able to convert an impressive 17% of consumers who had no initial brand in mind prior to research. To make up for the loss of those who had initially preferred them, they were also able to steal 11% of those who had initially preferred someone else prior to research.

Firstly, we will look at why Vodafone are losing 37% of consumers between initial and final preference.

When researching mobile phone providers, 41% of consumers are using aggregator sites. Whilst this works in the favour of smaller brands such as GiffGaff and iD Mobile in that more consumers shortlist them if they’ve visited an aggregator, it seems that aggregator sites are having a negative effect on Vodafone to the point where far fewer people are shortlisting Vodafone if they went to an aggregator than if they just used search and brand websites.

Shortlist preferences

So why are Vodafone losing consumers through aggregators and what is helping them convert the consumers they were able to get?

The #1 reason consumers finally preferred a brand was because they had the best deal/offer(s) to meet their needs. However, this was not the case for those who selected Vodafone. Vodafone may not be able to match the deals offered by other brands, but they still need to be able to clearly communicate what they have to offer and why they should be chosen over another brand. Instead, previous use was the top reason why consumers finally preferred Vodafone over another brand. So whilst they may not have the best deal/offer, they are strong in the area of brand loyalty.

Vodafone final preference

Meanwhile, Tesco retained 73% of those who initially preferred them, but was only able to pick up 7% from other initially preferred brands and 9% from those who had no initial preference.

As can be seen in the following chart, Tesco has a lot going for it. They’re chosen for their deals, easy to understand products/offers and boosted along with their loyalty programme. The question then is why are they unable to convert more customers?

Tesco final preference

The reason is site visits.

Compared to the other big brands, Tesco are getting very few customers visiting their site during the initial research phase. They’re managing just a 14% visit rate compared to the 30% of EE and O2. If Tesco are not able to drive people to their website, of course consumers won’t choose them unless they’re already aware of all that they have to offer. Therefore, getting people on site should be a key priority for Tesco.

These are just two examples highlighting the ways in which consumers research and select a brand to purchase a mobile phone plan through. Each brand has its own unique story and Global Reviews is the only place that can tell you how each of these stories go. If you would like to know your brand’s story and see how it compares to your competitors, contact us today.

Global Reviews specialises in helping top brands worldwide convert more of their ideal customers online, through the use of the most advanced research methodologies. To find out more about how we can help you and your digital teams, or if your brand would like to be included in our next round of FRUITION research, please contact: 

Hannah-Rose Farrington – Commercial Director
T:         +44 (0) 203725 8260
M:        +353 (87) 1263043
E:         hannah.farrington@globalreviews.com

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How well do health insurers encourage online application?

apply online

Recent research conducted by Global Reviews shows that the Australian health insurance industry is failing to provide consumers with a reason to apply for a policy with them online.

The majority of people who are researching health insurance online, also wish to purchase the policy online, however, there are 3 key elements missing from most websites that encourage consumers to purchase online whilst providing them with security and privacy. These elements are:

  1. Poor new/existing customer handling
  2. No promotion of the benefits of purchasing online
  3. Security and privacy features and functions being neglected

There are numerous opportunities within the application form stage that many health insurance providers are missing out on. By enhancing the process, brands can come to deliver an optimal online experience that not only helps the consumer feel secure, but also gives them a reason to recommend the brand and site to others.

During the most recent research, AHM was the only brand actively promoting the online channel for application by providing an incentive. At the time of writing this piece, AHM was offering savings up to $200 for taking out a policy online. This simple offer gives consumers a strong incentive to purchase a policy online prior to the offer expiring.

ahm Health Insurance Cheap private health insurance

Whilst incentives are one good way to encourage online application, they are not necessary. Other methods can be used to encourage consumers to begin the application form online such as highlighting key benefits and conveniences including:

  • Ability to apply any day, any time
  • Complete the form in your own time
  • Faster applying than other ways – no wait time

Another key element in this phase is in managing expectations by addressing the following common questions:

  • How long will it take to complete the form?
  • What information will I need to provide?
  • Will the company respond to my application and how?
  • Are there any terms or conditions I should be aware of?
  • Will my information be kept secure?

Surprisingly, most health insurance websites are failing to answer these questions prior to consumers beginning the application. It’s not until they’ve already begun the process that some of these questions start to get answered.

Although there are still a few questions that go unanswered, GMHBA is currently one of the few who answers any of these questions at the quote stage. Prior to clicking through from the quote to the application form, consumers are told how long the process will take and what details they’ll be required to supply. If the consumer doesn’t have 5 minutes or their Medicare and bank cards on hand, they’re given the option to email the quote to themselves so that they can complete the application form at a later stage. This lessens the risk of losing the consumer to someone else if they’re not able to apply right away.

GMHBA Private Health Insurance

Meanwhile, within the application form itself, it is more common to see brands addressing these questions. BUPA is a good example of a brand that helps set some expectations within the form as well as providing support options and demonstrating a sense of security.

  • At the top of the form is the Norton security symbol to give consumers a sense that their information will be kept secure and it is safe to complete the form.
  • Alongside the symbol is an outline of the stages of the form. Whilst an estimated time for completion is not provided, consumers can still easily see how far along the process they are.
  • Below the cost is a box which outlines what information is required to complete the form.
  • Finally, contact details are provided in case the consumer requires further assistance. This includes call centre operation times to advise consumers when they can call.

PHI BupaBy answering some of the key questions listed above both prior and during the online application process, it will help to give consumers a reason to not only trust the brand, but also confidently complete the application online. Both of these reasons can go a long way when it comes to building a relationship with the consumer. Once a consumer is happy and confident with a brand, they will be less likely to go elsewhere and more likely to recommend that brand to others.


To find out more about this research or to ensure your brand is included in our next round of research, contact us today:
Tony Carveth
Senior Commercial Director
tony.carveth@globalreviews.com
+61 3 9982 3400

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6 tips to optimise conversions in the online casino market

In November 2016, we tracked and surveyed 200 consumers to better understand their processes when it comes to finding an online casino site to play on.

Before gamers conduct any research into the best site for them, as many as 75% have a preferred brand in mind. This is typically driven by having used them before in some capacity as reported by 68% of those with an initial preference. This is followed by 54% who said that they are a current customer and 49% who have trust in the brand. Brand loyalty and the comfort of using what you know are key influences in who a gamer is considering.

However, there are factors along the research journey that can impact this initial decision.

The first step for 91% of gamers when finding a site to play on is a search engine. For many consumers, search engines such as Google are a natural starting point for most, if not all, online activities. It is within the search results, gamers are then exposed to a range of brands and any specials/deals on offer. Whether they are driven by the brand name, the games available or available deals, gamers then move on to a brand’s website where the online experience begins to influence the decision-making process.

They say that first impressions last. This rule applies to websites as much as anything else. In fact, 38% of gamers stated that the visual appeal of a brand’s website played a part in the final decision making process. If a website is not aesthetically pleasing and does not provide a layout and navigational path that is easy to follow, then gamers are going to find it too difficult to use and go elsewhere.

Throughout the research and decision making journey, the online casino industry has many ups and downs as the balance of product, price and experience plays its part on the decision-making process. Each brand has its own strengths and weaknesses throughout the journey whether that be in revealing and detailing games on offer, explaining game play options or registering for an account online.

Global Reviews

So, how can casino game providers improve the customer journey and ultimately increase conversions? Here are our top tips:

6 ways online gamingEach of these tips not only applies to online casino sites, but across all product and service websites. These are universal requirements to ensure a strong online customer experience and aid in online conversions. By implementing these elements, a brand can go from sitting in the middle of the pack, to creating an online experience that sets an example for the rest of the industry.

To watch the full Casino webinar click here 

Originally written for SBC News: http://www.sbcnews.co.uk/features/2016/12/20/global-reviews-tips-optimise-conversions-online-casino-market/#ixzz4W4ERcqlw

Global Reviews specialises in helping top brands worldwide convert more of their ideal customers online, through the use of the most advanced research methodologies. To find out more about how we can help you and your digital teams, or if your Casino brand would like to be included in our next round of FRUITION research, please contact: 

Hannah-Rose Farrington – Commercial Director
T:         +44 (0) 203725 8260
M:        +353 (87) 1263043
E:         hannah.farrington@globalreviews.com

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28% of consumers are unable to find the product range on mortgage websites

In June 2016 Global Reviews observed and measured 400 consumers as they sought after a new mortgage provider online and found that 28% of consumers are unable to find the product range on mortgage websites.

The ability to quickly and easily locate and compare product options is an obvious top need for consumers when researching products online. This is no exception for those looking for a new mortgage provider so it’s a concern when so many consumers are struggling to complete what should be a simple task.

Consumers on the ING Direct website had the highest effectiveness rate with 81% for navigating from the homepage to an area dedicated to showing the product range. They were closely followed by CBA with 80% and Heritage Bank with 78%.

Success rate for locating product range

Given their high success rate, it is not surprising that consumers on the ING Direct website had a much higher level of satisfaction in completing the task with a score of 86%, against the industry average of 75%.

Whilst having a direct and clear navigational path from the homepage to the product page is vital, it is equally important to deliver on content once consumers arrive on the page. This includes adequately detailed information, product comparisons and tools to assist the consumer in finding the best product to suit their needs.

Comparing product options

On average, consumers rated the comparison capabilities of mortgage providers at 75%. The ease of comparison was rated at 71% whilst the interactive elements within the comparison tools only averaged a best practice score of 40%.

NAB was the worst performer with a score of just 44% for how easy it is to compare options. Meanwhile, St George and CBA lead the industry with scores of 81% and 80% respectively ahead of an industry average of 71%.

Ease of comparison

Some of the key features the top performers include on their comparison page that help to boost their scores are:

  • Detailed information including whether or not an offset account is available for the product.
  • Information as to whether redraw facilities are available.
  • Displays definitions of industry specific jargon or displays a link to a glossary
  • Ability to compare all accounts in a single location
  • Displays interest rate information for each account
  • Ability to print the comparison table

Minimal tools for matching products to needs

To find the product that best suits their needs, consumers could read about each product individually or look at a comparison table, however, these methods do tend to rely on a certain level of understanding of how the product works. Something that especially those new to the market would have difficulties in doing successfully.

The solution? A needs matching tool.

Five of the eight brands assessed in this study do not offer such a tool and therefore rely on a certain level of knowledge and understanding from the consumer. A risky move given 17% of consumers said they would leave the site and go elsewhere if they faced difficulties on a site.

The three companies within the industry that do use a tool to assist consumers in deciding which mortgage account is right for them are CUA, ING Direct and NAB. By including a tool to assist in needs matching, these brands scored well ahead of the industry average of 36%. CUA scored 67%, ING Direct scored 62% and NAB scored 50%.

Needs matching content scores

A needs matching tool doesn’t have to be extravagant. The use of guiding questions is a simple way of leading consumers towards a product most relevant to their needs. Obviously the more interactive elements and detail the tool includes, the more confident consumers will be in knowing that they have selected the right product to meet their needs. Given how few brands are offering such a tool, even the basics will deliver a better online experience than having no tool at all.

Taking out a mortgage can be a daunting enough task without the added stress of trying to navigate and understand details on a brand’s website. By providing the right information in an easily digestible format, brands can help consumers feel more confident in their decision and therefore instill a stronger sense of trust in the brand.

Mortgages report 2016

 

For more tips on how to improve the online customer experience, download our FREE report.

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Superannuation companies are not delivering on customers’ top needs

Superannuation companies are not delivering on customers’ top needs

Superannuation is a unique industry whereby consumers are influenced as to which brand they choose by a broad range of inputs such as employers, financial advisors and family. With so many external factors feeding into the decision making process, it is imperative that once consumers are on the website that they’re met with a strong online experience, otherwise they’ll be easily swayed by external factors rather than what the brand can offer them that competitor brands cannot.

The top reasons for consumers to shortlist a superannuation brand for further consideration, as defined by market research conducted in January 2016, were brand recognition (I was familiar with their names 48%) and search engine placement (I saw them when using search engine 40%).

Looking more specifically at website performance in conjunction with branding, top rating reasons were trust in the brand (35%), the website helped compare options (26%), product/offers easy to understand (26%) and looks easy to use (25%).

Top reasons for shortlisting a superannuation brand

Why shortlist brands

All these reasons for shortlisting a company each have their own features which can help improve the overall customer experience. As seen from the scores, one of the most important reasons for shortlisting a company is trust in the brand, however, online customer experience research conducted in July 2016 saw an industry average for building trust on the website at only 54%.

While the industry is already making moves towards including more features and functions that can build consumer trust, there are many features and functions that still need to be improved.

There is currently no company within this industry, that we measured, that is performing outstandingly in the area of meeting expectations and building trust. The top performer is Sunsuper with 61%. Considering the average is 54%, the general performance of the industry is pretty poor. The companies that are not scoring well, such as BT (47%) and EquipSuper (46%), would benefit most from improving on features that will help build consumer trust.

Meet expectations & build trust benchmark scores

Meet expectations & build trust

Given the low scores within the superannuation industry, it becomes important to look to other industries to learn ways in which to improve a sense of trust on a website. Nationwide, a UK home insurance company, is the top performer for building trust. Nationwide scores a perfect 100%, which is 39% higher than the top performer in the superannuation industry.

So what can be learnt from the home insurance industry when it comes to meeting expectations and building trust, what is done differently and what is similar?

When comparing Nationwide with the superannuation industry, there are a number of features that the home insurance industry utilise better than the superannuation industry.

  • The first feature noticed when comparing websites, is the lack of a phone number on some superannuation websites. The phone number of Nationwide is hidden under the tab additional information, and while this might not be the optimal way for customers to notice it, it is still accessible.
  • The second feature that Nationwide has is a feedback feature on every page. This can be of major importance for companies to help guide website adjustments to better meet customer needs and lessen any problems customers may experience whilst on the site.
  • The last feature that Nationwide has that many superannuation sites do not, is a trust building page about history of the provider. If customers can see the origins of the company, it can instill a greater sense of trust than having no context as to where this brand came from.

Some other functions that can be of great value, but are not used by a lot of companies within the industry are having ‘why choose us/this fund’ content easily accessible i.e. within a click of the homepage/landing page. Superannuation brands all offer similar, if not the same, products so it is important for a prospective customer to be able to differentiate between brands in order to make an informed decision.

Also important is having information available on the fund’s performance within a click from the homepage, and how the chosen fund compares to other funds. This last feature, the comparing of funds, is currently only used by two companies in the industry. This is an important element that should be used by a brand to differentiate themselves from competitors.

To find out more, please download this FREE report.

Superannuation Digital Effectiveness Report (2016)

Next round of superannuation research is about to commence. Register your details to ensure your brand is captured in the next round of studies.

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Web chat? FAQ? Go elsewhere? Preferred methods of support when customers encounter problems online.

Online support

When researching and purchasing a product or service online, there will invariably be situations where a customer will either have questions or encounter problems on the website. There are a multitude of ways in which to answer/solve these problems. Typically, these ways include looking for:

  • FAQs/Help
  • Phone number to call
  • Call me back area
  • Contact us page
  • Web chat
  • Additionally, they could ultimately give up on the company and leave the website in search for another provider.

Between 2014 and 2016, Global Reviews has conducted 114 research studies across the following nine industries in Australia, Ireland and the UK:

  • Banking/Finance
  • Energy Retail
  • General Insurance
  • Health Insurance
  • Higher Learning
  • Sports Betting
  • Superannuation
  • Telecommunications
  • Travel Bookings

In all, 20 products/services within these industries have been assessed against the Global Reviews Digital Sales Effectiveness Benchmark. As part of these benchmarks, 28,268 in-market consumers completed the online sales journey on each of the assessed websites. After completing a series of product research and application tasks, these prospective customers were all asked what they would most likely do if they encounter a problem whilst researching a product/service online.

Across the three regions, it was found that the Irish are less likely to seek out an FAQ/Help page than Australian or British consumers – however it still ranked highly with 20%. This was the preferred method of solving any issues by 24% of Australian and British consumers. The most common method of getting answers for Irish consumers was by looking for a telephone number to call (21%). This method was preferred by 19% of Australians and only 14% of the British.  The use of the telephone appears to be more popular in Ireland not only with making a call, but also in the use of “call-me-back” functions. 11% of Irish preferred this method, compared to 8% in the UK and 7% in Australia.

The use of web chat features rated more prominently for UK sites with 22% preferring this method. Ireland and Australia were a bit lower here with 19% and 18% respectively.

Problems REGION

The differences in what consumers would do if they encountered a problem are not limited to regions, consumer behaviours also differ depending on what product/service they are researching.

Banking & finance

Across the banking and finance sector, help preferences are fairly similar across all products, except for savings accounts where there’s a stronger propensity to seek out FAQs and less of a risk of opting to leave the website and look for another provider.

Problems BANKING

Insurance

Within the insurance sector, travel insurance is a bit of an outlier – most likely due to the short term nature of the policies. There tends to be less of a connection to travel insurance as there is for health, home and motor insurance, with one in five customers opting to find another provider rather than persisting on the website. Despite this higher rate of abandonment,  one in four customers would use FAQs, compared to the one in five for the other insurance products.

Health insurance is slightly above average for seeking out a telephone number and slightly below average for leaving the website.

Problems INSURANCE

Telecommunications, Energy, Higher Learning, Gaming & Travel

Unlike banking and insurance, telecommunications has quite different preferences when customers encounter problems online. Despite internet service providers and mobile phone providers typically being the same company, those looking for a mobile phone provider are more likely to take the self-help route with 30% saying they would look at FAQs/Help compared to the 23% who would do the same when looking for an internet service provider. This means that telecommunication companies need to be catering to differing needs within each area of their website by considering the placement and weighting of help features. What is more important for those looking at mobile phones is different to that of those looking at broadband.

Problems MISCLooking at travel it appears that those looking for domestic flights are more inclined than those looking for international flights to want to speak to someone – whether that be via phone or web chat. This could be due to dealing with local support staff within the same timezone whereas for international flights the staff could be located anywhere depending on the intended destination. This does bring a higher risk factor for international flight sites where 21% of consumers stated that they would leave the site and look for another provider if they encountered a problem.

Unlike other industries, higher learning organisations truly offer unique products which in turn means that prospective students are forced to persevere on the site if they encounter problems unless there is another university that offers the same courses under the same conditions e.g. location. As a result, only 11% said they would leave the site if they had a problem, meanwhile an overwhelming 36% would use FAQs and 27% would look for ‘Contact Us’ information.

What this data shows us is the different research processes customers go through depending on the product or service they are wanting to purchase/apply for. Even within the one brand’s website, there are different wants and needs depending on the product. Therefore, brands need to be aware of the research habits of their customers and tailor each area of their website accordingly.

The alternative is losing these prospective customers to someone else when they give up on a site and go elsewhere.

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