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Implementing Tablet Sales Toolkits : Great interface design is a critical success factor

In this article Charles Gregory of Mobile Insurance Solutions, explores the importance of interface design and looks at some of the key design factors that help to ensure high levels of adoption of tablet toolkits by insurance advisors.

Editorial Comment from The Digital Insurer

Design matters and in this article Charles Gregory from MIS gives practical design advice on how to create an engaging tablet toolkit that achieve the first goal of high usage and acceptance from advisors. Insurers need to wise up on the importance of “soft skills” like design in the new digital world we live in.

Genius in simplicity

Where did the true genius of Steve Jobs lie?

“The genius of Apple founder Steve Jobs lay in his ability to connect poetry to technology”, Steve Jobs’ biographer Walter Isaacson has said. To others it was his ability to work tirelessly to match format with functionality and to produce both software and hardware that had an intuitive design.

It was Steve Jobs who showed that devices didn’t need complex operation manuals and it has been proven that the iPad is so easy to use that children in remote communities without access to technology can master the interface in a matter of moments.

Why is simplicity so hard to achieve?

So why do so many insurers continue to downplay the importance of interface design? In practice we experience four main reasons why user interface design is given less priority:

  1. The skills do not exist in-house
  2. It takes time and organisations are often in a rush to get product to market
  3. The IT implementation process of many insurers is built upon legacy back-end systems – typically with”green” screens that offer little place for interface innovation
  4. The criticality of “selling solutions” and not products to end users whether they are customers or distributors is still forgotten

I am sure many people in an organisation will feel that great design won’t sell a poorly created product on its own. But there again, great design will enable a great product realise its full potential. The two areas must work together. With key relevance to insurance products, elegant design incorporates fantastic functionality into a simple form where the complexity of the product offering is hidden from the user or customer. But it’s not easy – particularly in the world of insurance where extensive form filling is often required.

So what does good design look like for tablet toolkits?

We have pulled together a few of  the designs we have produced for clients to create some composite interfaces that we think represent a good starting point for design for the quotation aspects of a tablet sales toolkit for life insurance advisors.

Figure 1 below shows a “swipe out” menu on the left hand side that provides access to the high level modules of functionality that you would see on a table sales toolkit. The rest of the interface is given over to quotes – users can either edit or manage an existing quote or can press the + button to create a new quote.

Figure 1 - Creating a quote

Figure 2 below shows an example of a dashboard design to quote completion. The use of traffic light principles and a data hierarchy allow the user to complete the quote in a non linear fashion. This also makes it easy to make changes to the quote to “close” the customer on their desired solution. Essentially then, we are saying “you can’t sign off or go to the next stage until all traffic lights are green!”

“Behind the scenes” as well are:

  1. Validation rules (such as “Maximum Entry age must be 18”) and process checks (such as “Funds selections don’t add up to 100%”) to ensure that the sales person or agent can’t make mistakes or skip important parts of the process / form completion. This saves time and improves efficiency.
  2. Checks to ensure that information that is not required to be shown to the user or customer is hidden. This avoids cluttering the screen for easier completion.

You will also note that 2 modes of operation are catered for – a standard mode (which works on a given premium budget) and a target mode (which calculates a premium for a given need). This reflects the idea that we are selling solutions that match customer needs not just products and these needs can be addressed with the customer “on the go”. This leads to faster closure of a sale.

Figure 2 - Creating a quote

Figure 2 – Creating a quote


Figure 3 is an example interface designed to be used directly with the customer. It contains the dynamic ability to change the premium without having to return to the quote detail (a rapid “what if” function) and the graph can be used to discuss possible policy values at different ages. The view mode allows a rapid toggle between graphical and tabular modes.

Figure 3 - visualising the quote

Figure 3 – visualising the quote

Is there place for “gimmicks”?

There is little room for too many gimmicks in creating a great customer experience. We should always remember too that multiple areas within an organisation, such as IT, Risk, Product, Marketing etc, will need to “sign off” off on the solution offering and design. Reputation risk and brand issues need to be aligned with sales enthusiasm.

However, there are still opportunities to use the tablet to create shared experiences that build relationships. The simple act of taking a customer photo and /or capturing their ID is an experience that done correctly is fun and brings the advisor closer to their customers.

Advice for insurers implementing a tablet sales toolkit

When selecting your vendor do place sufficient weight on their user interface design skills. And if you end up with a vendor who is not as strong as you would like then be prepared to step in and hire designers to help you get the desired results you need. You should be aware though that fancy designs do not always lend themselves to easy programming (cost implications) or user experience. Check out their previous work. Design to build the relationship between you and your customer. Please note: One design mistake can lose you a customer.

Good luck in your UI design journey  !

About Mobile Insurance Solutions

Mobile Insurance Solutions provides tablet and other mobile solutions for the insurance industry. For more information visit their website or contact Charles directly – [email protected] Mobile Insurance Solutions is a subsidiary of Cellcity – a mobile software solutions company with an emphasis on marketing.


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