Want Happier Customers? Help Them Get Oriented

To be comfortable, consumers need to understand what's happening.

(Image: Thinkstock)

Hugh Dubberly and Shelley Evenson provided a helpful framework for looking at customer experience in 2008, when they released their Experience Cycle model.

In this framework, a customer’s interaction with a product or service is broken down into five phases: Connect & Attract, Orient, Transact, Extend & Retain, and Advocate.

You probably spend a great deal of time on connecting with consumers and attracting them, and also on the Transact, Extend & Retain, and Advocate phases.

Too often, “Orient” is the missing piece.

(Related: Who Controls Your Customer Experience?)

To write profitable insurance, an insurance company often needs to spend time to get and review information about the consumer. The consumer needs to understand why the insurance company needs this information, and how to get the information efficiently.

Insurance companies often expect consumers to go right from the Connect & Attract phase to the Transact phase, without going through the Orient stage. The consumer gets turned off by all of the unexpected requests for information, and may even bail out.

This can happen online, and it can also happen in a face-to-face sales environment.

So, in what ways might we fill in the missing piece?

First, we must understand what questions must be answered to get the consumer oriented. These questions include:

Next, we can take pages out of the lesson books from companies in other industry categories:

Here are three examples.

1. Credit Karma

Here’s a service that not only aggregates your various credit reports but also breaks your score down into key behaviors. The breakdown helps users understand how to improve their credit scores, and how credit scores are is used by credit card companies and lenders.

2. Domino’s Pizza

When you’re hungry, the tension of not knowing what’s happening with your order, or when it will arrive, can be maddening. Domino’s responded by creating the “where’s my pizza” function. The consumer can see exactly when the pizza is being made, when the pizza is in the oven, and when the pizza is in the car and on the way. For users, knowing in advance that they will have visibility into the process is comforting.

3. RealAge Test

This system, used by millions of people, engages the user in a series of questions and instantly delivers a “real age,” based on health and risk factors. Your calendar age might be 40, but your “real age” could be 38. The test is a socially engaging way to help orient people around the behaviors that lead to longevity and health, while also helping them understand risk factors.

Those are examples of elaborate digital experiences, but you can also provide orientation with mechanisms such as simple FAQs, videos, and chat tools.


Maria Ferrante-Schepis, CLU, is managing principal, insurance and financial services, for Maddock Douglas in Elmhurst, Illinois. 

She’ll be participating in a free, live webinar about improving insurance customer experience at 1 p.m. EDT July 31. 

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