5 min read
In every industry nowadays, webforms are still the most used information capture medium for consumers when they interact with businesses online.
In this blog, we take a deeper look at the origin of webforms, how they work and what their limitations are. How can transactions between consumers and businesses be maximised today? What role can technology play in this optimisation? All these questions and more are answered below.
What are webforms and how do they work
According to content giant HubSpot,
A web form (or HTML form) is a place where users enter data or personal information that’s then sent to a server for processing. For example, users can provide their name and email address to sign up for a newsletter or place an order.
Webforms started to appear during the 90s digital revolution, as an evolution of paper forms. At the time it was a game-changer for every industry, as it provided an effective level of automation by delegating data input from consumers to databases to machines. Where once (and sadly even today) this information needed to be copied and pasted by an employee from a paper form into a database, it started to be digitally executed by machines, thereby reducing human manual input error and opening the door to huge cost-savings opportunities.
Within insurance, most of the webform systems came to be applied to Quote and Claims journey as well as other types of queries.
The limitations of webforms
As we have highlighted, webforms were born to evolve the information from analogue to digital. While this massively simplifies on one end (the business), it doesn’t change anything on the other (the consumer). Webform consists of a technological change that completely neglects consumer experience, since, at its core, it’s essentially the same as filling a paper form. Let’s investigate the problems with paper and web forms more extensively.
- Monologue is poor communication
One main limitation of webforms is the inability to communicate with the end-user as a human does. Webforms lack the personal touch of conversations and transform interactions to digital monologues. Queries with customers are not solved but captured through questions with static placeholders for answers. These are persistently unable to cope with the execution of crucial business processes unless they are tailored and heavily modified into a Frankenstein experience (have you ever tried to buy home insurance online with a form of 60 questions?).
- Neutral is not personal
Webforms provide a dry and impersonal customer experience whereby customer details are collected in bulk, independently from the customer segment or type, resulting in a clunky one-size-fits-all experience. Often customers are asked questions that are irrelevant in consideration of the input they just entered in the previous fields.
Specifically for insurance, webforms often lack the flexibility to accommodate business logic required for the execution of its core customer-facing processes.
- Desktop is not the only device
The webform experience is designed for desktop devices and can still work for tablets but definitely not for smaller devices such as mobile phones. On top of that, the design is not responsive most of the time. It does not adapt to the device size which creates a frustrating experience for the mobile customer. There is cause for alarm here since the percentage of mobile device website traffic worldwide is 54.8%.
- Imprecise analytics
As an example, a traditional insurance quote & buy webform journey is usually divided into four steps, each one corresponding to a different webpage (e.g. details, quote, policy summary payment). Not much data can be extracted out of this digital asset. For instance, the conversion rate and the percentage drop of potential customers will be available only between one page and the other. Now we see the forest, the aim is to analyse the trees, yet webform analytics only give us a green patch.
How Conversational Process Automation (CPA) evolves transactional processes
A changing business-customer landscape requires a corresponding change in the communication mediums. In the insurance world, Conversational Process Automation has the ability to fill in the missing gaps of bygone technologies. Here’s how:
- It fosters dialogue
CPA employs intelligent chatbots to empower businesses to have two-way communication at scale. Through an intuitive messaging-like interaction, chatbots offer a meaningful experience to customers empowering them to make guided yet non-advised informed decisions quickly and easily. Within a conversational experience, insurance jargon can easily be explained and grey areas clarified. Giving valuation information through a conversation empowers the end customers to make the best decision for themselves.
- It creates knowledge
Chatbots are able to collect much more data points against a webform. All data is collected in the CPA platform, then managed and organised in dashboards that allow access to such data at different granularity levels, according to the type of analysis and knowledge required.
For the above quote & buy example, a traditional webform journey is able to provide insights over the customer drop between one page and the other. With CPA the game changes.
The CPA platform allows the in-depth analysis of conversations and highlights improvement opportunities based on customer demographics and behavioural patterns. Through it, it will be possible to see how the chatbot is performing according to demographics, or how individuals are interacting with it, where they are dropping the conversation, message by message, and suggest reasons why they are editing their answers or taking time to reply.
- It provides an optimisation engine
Through a CPA platform, after insights are generated, A/B testing can be easily set up with the ultimate goal of performance optimisation. This process opens the door to further personalisation with dedicated journeys according to demographics or device and ultimately, conversion rate optimisation.
This is where artificial intelligence shines - as a system processing huge amounts of data to optimise goals such as improving customer experience with the highest possible NPS and conversion rate while maximising Return of Investment (ROI).
Although webforms delivered a considerable improvement over the paper form, the interaction with the customer remained transactional. Their performance is also limited with time and quote & buy conversation plateauing at around 10%, while analogue conversations over the phone deliver a 30% conversion rate. The gap between the two is huge and the case for keeping the conversation is here.
Conversational Process Automation meaningfully leverages digitisation to unlock personal interactions and superior customer knowledge. When designed properly with all the stakeholders in mind (both consumers and businesses) technology has the power to bring value and change the status quo. Businesses are already learning from customers and vice versa. A digital tool like webform delivers transactional interaction which fails to foster a growing and empowering relationship with the customer.
30 years after webforms replaced paper forms, it is now their time to retire and cede the place to the next technological advancement. With CPA, the digital bridge between business processes and end customers has never been so personal.
Take the first step towards transformation today with the Spixii performance assessment for customer-facing processes.