So in the final entry on this topic, I’d like to explore the user-experience innovations that can occur "behind the glass", to complete the investment we have made in Part 2 on creating a more innovative experience for quoting and buying car/auto insurance online.
In Harvard Business Review (HBR, May 2008) there’s a paper (you can read the first page of it online without a subscription) called "The Customer-Centered Innovation Map" (Bettencourt, Lance, A., Ulwick, Anthony, W) that outlines a methodology called job mapping, that (my phrase) applies design-thinking to services that customers currently use to identify opportunities for innovation. This process involves taking a customer-centric rather than process-centric view of what the customer is trying to accomplish, with a goal of identifying what customers are trying to get done at each step, rather than what they are doing currently. I find this approach incredibly analagous to user-centered design as a way of focussing on user-needs over technology-capabilities when we are thinking about innovating user-experiences "on the glass", and more importantly, it recognises that user-experience design professionals can wear many of the same faces of innovation (Kelley, 2005) – the anthropologist, the collaborator, the experience architect, the caregiver, the cross-pollinator – to innovate the non-customer facing aspects of delivering a service.
So again, let’s think about car/auto insurance and let me discuss how Adobe technology combined with a customer-centric approach are a recipe for innovation that can create a differentiated user-experience.
Representing your Car/Auto Insurance Application as a PDF
So in part 2 of this blog series, you may recall that I suggested our guided form or "Form Guide" experience capture data through the medium of RIA, but record that data in the schema of PDF. In previous entries I have also talked about LiveCycle ES as a Service Oriented Architecture, exposing services that allow us to efficiently move information between the digital and paper worlds, between people and processes, from one side of a firewall to another.
Taking your form offline
So here’s the first use-case for PDF that takes a customer-centric view of the application process; from time to time, you may want to complete an online transaction offline. With AIR, there’s now an opportunity for us to achieve offline rich data capture, but PDF has supported the offline data capture method for a long time, and still offers an approach for taking your data offline, completing it offline, sending it to someone else to complete offline (perhaps you want to send your car insurance application to your wife, so she can add details of her own driving history, then she can email the form back) before you submit it.
Digitally Signing the Application Form
With PDF, there is the option for you to digitally sign the application form and submit it electronically, with assurance that it was submitted by you. This is an excellent example of job mapping as described in the HBR article I mentioned at the top of this post, recognising a task within a job ("I want to prove that this is the application I wish to make, and that it came fromme") and then innovating upon that task. Once submitted, the insurance company can confirm that the document is from you, and that it hasn’t been tampered with since you submitted it. The data can then be perfectly extracted from the electronic form, ready to participate in the application process behind the glass.
But what if I can’t accept a digital signature ? What if I need a "wet signature" ?
So perhaps the insurance company insists upon a "wet-signature", requiring you to put pen to paper. You print the PDF, but now the data has left the electronic world to become meaningless ink on paper. In many organisations, OCR (Optical Character Recognition) will be a task that you would identify in job-mapping as a means of trying to extract the data electronically from a piece of paper, to remove the need for someone to manually rekey the data.
Irrespective of whether paper is OCR’d or manually rekeyed, the one inefficiency we can expect to fall foul of, the poor experience that we introduce behind the glass, is one of the data the consumer provided not being the data we provide back to them. Ever completed an online application, for at some point in the future to find that your name is spelled incorrectly on your policy document, or perhaps your address ? Most likely someone did a predictable yet poor job of manually rekeying your form, or the OCR software didn’t do a 100% job.
But perhaps you’re thinking – when I bought my insurance I didn’t have to print and sign, I just submitted a form online. Well, don’t assume that has taken paper out of the equation. When you look at the job-mapping process behind the glass, you may be surprised to find that a 3rd party organisation is handling the process of completing your application, or that your application needs to be digitally archived. And the currency between these systems ? More often than not, it’s paper, as if you’d printed the form and posted it to the service provider yourself.
Enter the Barcode
With a PDF, we can leverage services of LiveCycle Barcoded Forms ES to apply a 2D barcode to a document – and even if you edit that document offline, squint carefully at the barcode and like the Matrix, you’ll see your information dance as 1s and 0s representing the data you are updating on the form before printing it are encoded into the barcode. At whatever point in the process – whether printed by you for wet signature, or printed for archiving or as a process handoff – the data on the form is encoded electronically in the barcode, ready to be extracted by a scanner or barcode reader to remove all of the chances of what you entered in the form being mutated before the insurance policy makes it back to you.
Personalising your Policy Booklet
So let’s go back to the submit button; you chose to take insurance for 3rd party fire and theft, you chose to insure your stereo with the optional stereo package, and you elected for breakdown cover from your insurance company. Instead of receiving a huge policy document through the door with all the clauses for fully comprehensive insurance (that you didn’t take out), for windscreen cover and how to claim (which you didn’t take out), wouldn’t you rather receive a simpler, easier, shorter booklet that’s personal to you?
Remember the fundamental principle of the experience economy – creating a memorable event that engages with the customer in an inherently personal way. So what if we were also to "stitch" to the back of the policy document everything you needed to know about your stereo insurance, and about what to do in the event of a breakdown (since you took the optional breakdown cover).
The services of LiveCycle Output ES would allow you to create such personalised documents, dynamically merging the customer’s information into a personalised, dynamically generated booklet. And when we think about the experience economy, in this world of Web 2.0 where user-generated and 3rd party content is seamlessly merged with your own content, why not include some pages that take the customer’s postcode/zipcode and print a map with annotations of the closest 5 garages/auto-repair shops where they can take their car in the event of an accident ? Why not take the details of their car from their insurance application, and personalise all the imagery in the policy document to include their car. Why not leverage the imaging capabilities of software like Scene 7 from Adobe to show their model and their color of car ?
In the experience economy, we can consume services like Scene 7 and LiveCycle Output ES behind the glass, to match the fidelity of the experience we delivered on the glass, creating a personal and engaging user-experience that allows us to differentiate our service offering in an otherwise commoditised marketplace.
I could go on and on picking and choosing services from LiveCycle ES that would allow us to perform job-mapping techniques to streamline the behind the glass experience. Most notable in ommission is any discussion of LiveCycle Process Management ES, which would bind all of the experienced I discussed above together, mapping the customer’s job of applying for an insurance policy into a process that could be managed by LiveCycle ES to orchestrate all of these services, whether they are short-lived digital services or longer-lived services that require approval by the various people that have a part to play behind the glass.
What I do hope is clear from these 3 related articles, is that by picking one problem (applying for car/auto insurance) in one industry sector (Financial Services and Insurance) we have taken a relatively commoditsed service, and we have looked in-depth at how applying the principles of the experience economy, we can innovate on the glass, and we can innovate behind the glass, by leveraging client technologies such as Flex, AIR and PDF and consuming software as a service, such as the numerous solution components of LiveCycle ES and Scene 7 onDemand services to create a personal and engaging experience that will differentiate in an otherwise crowded marketplace.
So I’m curious….we do a pretty good job of helping you think about how to create great digital experience on the glass, with Rich Internet Applications, but have these articles helped you understand more about our service platforms, and how you can create great applications behind the glass ? Are there other problems that you recognise the technologies I’ve talked about as helping to innovate ? Can I do anything else to help you better understand how these technologie can be leveraged in your applications ? What else can we share ?