[Posted by Brad Strothkamp}
I spend much of my day viewing, using and evaluating financial service Web sites. Often I am underwhelmed (especially by the big guys) on what is done online, but every once in a while I run across something that is truly innovative. That happened for me a few weeks ago when getting a rate quote on Progressive Insurance's Web site.
The quote process starts off as most financial service applications do by asking for some basic information – in my case name, address and date of birth. But the similarities with other processes ends right there…
Innovation #1 – Prefilled Application Information: Progressive used my basic details to pull back and prefill the cars I own (in this case my Honda Civic and my wife's Saab 93). I just had to click and select the cars I wanted insured. No need to enter VIN #s or any other details about the cars.
Innovation #2 – Cross Channel Save and Retrieve: As I often do when I test apply for a financial product, I quit halfway through to see what would happen. In this case, Progressive sent me an email inviting me back to the Web site along with a phone number to call. I called the phone number, provided a few details about my application, and the representative was able to complete my quote over the phone with me right where i left off online.
Innovation #3 – Online Quote Customization: After I completed the quote with the rep, they gave me the monthly, bi-annal and annual price. I told them I would get back with them again to test what would happen if I dropped out. In this case, Progressive followed up with an email that linked me back to view my quote online. Now this is where it gets really cool. On the page that allow me to view my quote, I could modify different elements of my quote (e.g. deducible, coverages, etc) and in real time view the changes to my policy. See here. Simply amazing.
I have seen some really interesting features from time to time on Web sites I look at, but the combination of innovations I saw from Progressive is truly unmatched.