September 2014: Private Site Help Resources

Effective online assistance is an important component of any private site. It ensures that contract holders take full advantage of account services and transaction capabilities on the private site, and that they efficiently locate pages and/or resources. This Annuity Monitor Report examines the types of help resources available on the private sites of 16 firms in our coverage group, with a focus on accessibility, presentation and content value.

Specifically, the report focuses on the following criteria:

  • The availability of help resources on the private site.
  • The type of help resources offered and their content.
  • The way in which the resources are presented and organized.

Based on our examination, five firms received grades in the A-range for providing contextual pop-up help resources, FAQs pages and a glossary of terms – all within prominent areas of the private site. Additionally, six Annuity Monitor firms received grades within the B-range for their helpful resources; they are unable to rank higher due to their lack in accessibility, presentation and/or content depth. Firms offering minimal help resources received grades in the C-range.

The way help resources are presented is also important. Unless help resources are placed in prominent areas of the private site, they may not be of help to clients. Fortunately, 10 firms place help resources in prominent areas of the private site. Currently, 10 firms offer help resources via pop-ups windows. Lastly, firms should offer help resources that cover a range of topics, including profile settings, technical support, account details and contract terminology.

FAQs are the most popular form of online assistance offered among firms in our coverage group. Thirteen Annuity Monitor firms house a set of commonly asked questions in a dedicated page on the private site. A handful of firms provide well-organized and enriched FAQs pages that cover a multitude of topics, including account services, site features and/or profile settings. We found that help centers are under-utilized by Annuity Monitor firms, as they are offered by only six firms in our coverage group.

Additional key findings include:

  • Eleven firms offer help resources sporadically throughout the private site.
  • Eight firms offer glossary of terms.
  • Three firms offer a live chat feature on the private site.