Moving data-intensive processes such as loan or credit card applications online can save your company a lot of money, if it’s done right. But once you get a prospect to begin filling out your online forms and start an online application process, how can you ensure they don’t abandon it? Forrester Research offers these five tips for keeping the online application process on track.
1. Set user expectations. Forrester found in its research that most users begin the online application process with the expectation that it will be faster and easier. If your site has certain limitations, such as waiting periods or offline data requirements, it’s best to let users know up front, so they won’t be disappointed during the application process. Forrester offers the example of Bank of America, which tells users Online Abandonment right at the start what information they will need to complete an application and how long it typically takes, as well as provides a status bar that lets users see visually where they are in the process.
2. Prefill user information. Since most users hope the online process will be faster, this simple step reinforces that notion. For example, Wells Fargo’s site asks users if they are current customers and if so, pre-fills in pertinent information. Not only does it speed the process, but it helps avoid typos and other errors.
3. Offer real-time help. Many online applications are Online Abandonment simply because the user is confused about the next step. Offering clear, easy-to-use online help ensures that users can get their questions answered and get on with the process.
4. Save the app online. This is a key feature that helps eliminate online abandonments, Forrester said. Once users know they can begin the process, save their information and continue and complete the process later, they are less likely to simply abandon the application.
5. Try to get them back. Once a user abandons the process, make sure you ask them why and try to offer them alternatives, Forrester said. For example, when a user abandons the application process on the American Express site, a window pops up asking if they’d like to save the application and finish it later. Offering alternatives is key, Forrester said.
For more on preventing online abandonments, visit Forrester’s site here.