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Online Application Best Practices

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Online Application Best Practices

Learn from the best (and the worst) in the banking
and auto insurance industries.

When filling out an application online, be it to open a banking account, apply for a credit card, or to obtain an insurance quote, users come to the table with pre-conceived notions of how the process should go. How the actual application compares to these preconceptions has  a profound impact on the customer’s trust in and satisfaction with the brand site in general. Leaders in banking and auto insurance show us that application speed, simplicity, and clarity drive intent to complete an application and return to the site in the future.


eVOC Insights has conducted two waves of syndicated research, evaluating 10 websites per industry, to ascertain the leaders in brand affinity, user experience, and future call-to-action. For each wave, eVOC Insights recruited 1000 respondents for a given industry to evaluate a site’s usability from basic navigation, to researching products, to completing an online product application. In banking, the brands surveyed included BB&T, Chase, Citibank, Citizens, PNC, Suntrust, TD Bank, US Bank, & Wells Fargo, while for auto insurance 21st Century, Allstate, Esurance, Farmers, Geico, Liberty Mutual, Nationwide, Progressive, State Farm, & Travelers were included.



  • Evaluate each site according to brand affinity, user experience, and future intent
  • Benchmark each site’s performance in relation the other sites surveyed
  • Identify leaders in the travel industry
  • Determine best practices for homepage design and hero images


To assess ease of use for the online application, respondents were asked the following questions:

  • How easy or difficult was it to go through the process of obtaining an auto insurance quote on the [BRAND] site?
  • While trying to complete this task, how satisfied were you with the [BRAND] site?
  • How easy or difficult was it to go through the account opening process?
  • Was completing the application online more or less difficult than you expected?

Key Findings: Banking

BB&T tops the ranks for having the most satisfying and easy to complete online bank account application, significantly out performing all 9 other banks for satisfaction and the bottom 5 banks for ease of use. A clear and simple step-by-step application drives BB&T’s number one position for likelihood to return to the site and open an account.



“I loved the feeling of security. It asked me personalized questions to make sure it was truly me. I also liked that it gave me an incentive for opening, and it was very simple.”

December, 2014


Meanwhile, Suntrust’s application is ranked as the most difficult to complete, being outperformed by the top 5 banks. Users find the application to be confusing and disorganized. They also feel that  many of the questions are irrelevant to opening a bank account.





“Several pages were open before you got to the actual application.”
“All of the information was tedious.”

December, 2014

Key Findings: Auto Insurance

Geico has the easiest and most satisfying online quote application, primarily due to the quickness of the application process. Prospects particularly like that they do not have to give their SSN and that their vehicle information was automatically filled in from the DMV. Being able to customize coverage options after the initial quote also drives high customer satisfaction.


“Quote process was quick and unobtrusive.”
“I liked they searched the cars I have registered in the motor vehicle bureau.”

December, 2014



State Farm is outperformed by the top 7 sites for ease of applying for a quote online. Users feel that the process is too long and that too much personal information, including their SSN, is required. Slow page load times and lack of organization, and irrelevant questions also contribute to users’ low satisfaction with the State Farm quote application.





“Quotes should be offered on generic terms to see if they are in the ballpark and if they are in the ballpark then you get down to specifics such as drivers license and social security numbers.”

December, 2014


Best Practices for an Online Application include:

  • A clear call to action from the home page / content pages
  • Tells users up front how long the application process will take (e.g. Open account in 10 minutes or less)
  • Minimal number of questions and personal information
  • No SSN needed
  • Information auto-fill where possible
  • Clear step-by-step process
  • Inclusion of a progress bar
  • Phone number and Help Center easily visible
  • FAQs and clickable question marks explaining why information is required
  • Disclaimer showing that input information is secure
  • Product options are listed in side-by-side comparison chart to facilitate selections




Best in Class

The best online applications stand out from their competitors as being quick and simple. Users prefer clear step-by-step instructions that highlight their current progress and inform them of what is required versus optional. Sites that require minimal personal information and do not ask for a SSN are particularly appealing and motivate high intent to return.