Avoka minimizing friction to maximize conversions

The developers of an award-winning technology that simplifies customer on-boarding for companies with more complex offerings is seeing success by designing their platform from a customer’s point of view.

Avoka has created a digital sales enablement platform that removes common points of frustration customers experience when attempting purchases from governments, banks, financial services companies, health care providers and other sites with business models that do not fit nicely into an online shopping cart format.

“One can liken us to an e-commerce platform for information intensive industries,” said Avoka Chief Experience Officer Derek Corcoran.

Mr. Corcoran said Avoka addresses the online purchase experience from the customer’s perspective, which, in the case of financial services, made clear sense after Avoka conducted some research. While 94 percent of Americans research bank accounts online, only 39 percent apply, with a measly three percent completing the process via mobile. Even after removing the tire kickers that leaves a high abandonment rate from legitimate prospects.

The reason so many people abandon the process is they encounter friction points that slow down the application process, Mr. Corcoran explained.

“We make it as easy as possible for a customer to give that information to an organization so they can process the request,” he said.

Avoka works with clients to identify friction points. At every change point, Avoka tracks continuation rates from before and after the change so their customer can see the difference each one makes. Two percent here and one percent there quickly adds up.

Mr. Corcoran used an example of a customer interested in the number of dependents an applicant has. Avoka switched from a drop-down option to a toggle and saved a few seconds of time. The customer saw a two percent improvement in the completion rate.

Avoka switches the “How did you hear about us?” question until after the application is submitted as it provides data that is not crucial to the application process, he added.

“Once the customer gets visibility of those changes, they become laser focused on removing every unnecessary question, step or interaction they are imposing on the consumer to make that application process as easy as possible,” Mr. Corcoran said.

There is plenty to remove when it comes to financial services.

“Financial services is the only industry that accepts abandonment rates between 70 and 90 percent,” Mr. Corcoran said.

Savings account applications have an abandonment rate of 70 percent. Credit cards have a higher rate, while life insurance applicants flee at a rate of more than 90 percent, he added.

One of the first methods Avoka employes is to use data sources the applicant has access to in order to presort applications. That may mean the information bar on the back of a driver’s license or an applicant’s LinkedIn profile, Mr. Corcoran explained.

Think what Amazon did to the online shopping experience by allowing the customer to preconfigure purchase and delivery data, Mr. Corcoran said, while adding he originated his last credit card application in 90 seconds.

A friction can develop when the bank asks for 30 to 90 days worth of data. If that information has to be personally delivered the abandonment rate soars. Improved success has been realized by allowing applicants to submit pictures of their bank statements.

More and more of the marketplace will have less and less patience for second rate onboarding processes that waste time. This forces companies to continually look at ways to improve process efficiency, including in mobile-friendly formats.

All it took for me to see the necessity of companies having a mobile-friendly onboarding process was one ride on a commuter train headed for San Francisco. Surprisingly, or maybe not, banks needed more convincing.

“I met with senior managers from many banks, and 12 to 25 months ago they did not see mobile demand for their services,” Mr. Corcoran said. “They didn’t feel the medium lent itself to extensive data input.”

Mr. Corcoran said it took banks years to get to the point where new introductions were formatted for large screen PCs. By the time they got there they were already behind on mobile and slapping their foreheads.

“They were staring down the barrel of a fairly significant redevelopment effort,” Mr. Corcoran said.

Other industries that benefit from efficient on-boarding are those where people spend significant sums of money and would consider financing options if they come with simple application processes. Think car and vacation purchases.

“If that company has that information they can capture the customer in the moment,” Mr. Corcoran explained

The same technology can be used to allow a person to immediately apply for a credit card if they see an ad with good benefits on their commute, at an airport or during a trip to the mall.

Looking to the future, Mr. Corcoran said P2P will continue to disrupt financial services. It is already helped create a mind shift for much of their customer base.

“People don’t necessarily want the banking relationship, they want what the bank can facilitate – a home, an education, savings.”

That bodes well for wholesale financial services like what you see with auto financing where it is not always obvious a bank is involved in the process, Mr. Corcoran said.

Digital sales in the home, which are growing, will benefit from this technology. Home improvement companies like roofers, painters and renovators, who do much of their sales work at a customer’s home, can capitalize on this technology to remove friction points.

Banks also have ground to make up integrating their different channels, as their digital sides are not often built to support the branch side and vice versa, he added. Banks can help by crediting a portion of each sale to each contributing area, so the silo mentality is eliminated.

The fact more companies are taking technology is seen in the increasing popularity of a new position, Chief Digital Officer, Mr. Corcoran said. In the past IT departments “moved at their own pace” but that is no longer a viable approach.

Banks will continue to lose the agility battle to smaller institutions, Mr. Corcoran said, citing the example of an Avoka client who went live within five days.

“They are moving at speeds banks only dream of.”

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