This is a report summarizing the results of a focus
Twenty-four people in four groups of six were interviewed about their recent car accident experiences. Although they were often happy with the results of their auto repair process, they did not understand the process well, and wanted guidance about the steps and their options at each step more than specific recommendations. The insurance companies, whom they trusted as protectors and guides, drove the process. Independent third-party information was most useful at the beginning of the process, when people had the largest number of choices to make and the least information about what was ahead. Body shop evaluations and an "
Their understanding of the process was in several large steps: communication (with family, work, and insurance), insurance (for the beginning of the guiding process), interim transportation, body shop management, and aftermath management (when things were delayed or went wrong). There was also a parallel medical process in the cases where injuries occurred that sometimes involved car insurance.
When presented with the idea for a service that would provide unbiased information in addition to helping people track their car repair, everyone responded positively to it. The highest value was felt to be in a
A chart summarizing
Figure out how people understand the repair/insurance process.
Determine the points of pain in the process.
Determine where third-party assistance would have helped.
One of the primary goals of this research was to understand how people thought about the postaccident car repair process. This understanding, this mental model, breaks down into two pieces: an emotional component and a procedural component. The emotional component consists of the set of feelings and perceptions that people have about the process. The procedural component is their understanding of how the process is supposed to work and what their role in it is.
In general, the participants' emotions did not seem to run very deeply about the repair aspects of their accident experience. A number of people in each group were happy with their insurance company and their body shop (though not always at the same time). Many were happy with the final outcome. The strongest emotional
Moreover, because of the varied circumstances of people's accidents (some had injury accidents, some had delayed
Therefore, I am attempting to generalize as much as possible based on the responses and to extract both the emotional and procedural components, but place them in context with each other, in order to capture as much of the participants' thoughts as possible. The model has six major
Insurance company logistics
Body shop logistics
Model and observations omitted. Most observations were supported with supporting quotations. For example:
Communication issues were mentioned a number of times, with people feeling as if they didn't know enough about what was happening in the process—
Robert: "You have to do your own follow-up; there doesn't seem to be a follow-up system. You don't know what's happening; you only know the day before you're supposed to pick up your car they'll call you and tell you it'll be another week."
Manuela: "If you don't do anything, nothing happens. You're initiating everything."
The repair tracking component of the product, though valuable, does not seem to be perceived as being as
Moreover, because people understand little about the process, and are probably
Thus, defining and demystifying the process while making it more objective may be more valuable to people than automation.
This is the discussion guide used in the research.
Objective: Introduce process and make participants at ease.
Mike introduces himself.
A market researcher
Not associated with any of the products we'll be talking about today
Have no emotional attachment to any of these things, so you can say whatever you want
Helping a company with a new idea that they have
What we're going to do today is talk about some of your experiences so that they can create a service that is best tailored to experiences of people like you. It's mostly going to be pretty casual conversation, but there will be a couple of times when I focus on certain things.
While we're talking, it's important that you be as
opinion. No opinion is right or wrong—especially about
the things we're going to talk about—it's just an opinion, so even if you
But we'd like you to speak one at a time.
Also, since we have a lot of ground to cover today and none of us want to be here for hours, I may have to ask you to wrap up a thought or put it aside so that we can move on.
Behind that glass wall, as you can imagine, are a couple of people from
the company whose idea we'll be talking about, and Mary, who is working
with me. Occasionally, Mary may come in here with a note or something
we need. Regardless, feel free to ignore them. As I said, we brought you here
to hear what you think, so you won't hurt anyone's feelings by whatever
you say. This videotape, in case you're wondering, is here so that Mary and I don't have to sit here feverishly scribbling notes and can concentrate on listening to you. It's purely for research purposes. It may be seen by
Now I'd like to read you what's called an informed consent clause; it's a standard thing I read to everyone I interview. It sets out your rights as a person who is participating in this kind of research.
As a participant in this research
You may stop at any time.
You may ask questions at any time.
You may leave at any time.
There is no deception involved.
Your answers are kept confidential.
Here is a form that gives us permission to videotape this discussion and to use the videotape in our research.
Name Which city you live in
What TV shows and
What are your favorite Web sites? Is there anything that really bothers you about the Web?
(Mike does introduction for himself; everyone goes around).
Objective: Introduce car accident aftermath topic and make people feel comfortable with it. Try to determine the order they perceive the steps in the repair/claim process (i.e., the mental model they have of what happens between the time their car is hit and it's fixed or totaled).
(2 minutes) As you probably guessed from the questions you were asked
on the phone, we're going to talk today about car accidents. But don't worry,
we're not going to talk about the accidents
The first thing I'd like to do is to try to figure out what happens between the time the tow truck arrives and the whole process is over. That way we can see where there were problems and if there's some way in which things can be made better.
(10 minutes) What's the first step of the process? [write down] Does everyone agree? [if not, then start a parallel list]. In a couple of words, describe what goes into that.
Let's take a look at the list for a minute. Anyone notice anything missing?
Is there anything that doesn't fit, that doesn't make sense? Would any of you put any of these steps in a different order?
Objectives: Get top-level points of pain and see if they're consistent for people with few and many accidents.
So all of you are here because you had a car accident ["in the last year"; "a couple of
(3–5 minutes) [If so, ask people who answer] What was the most unpleasant thing about the process for you? [ask one of the other first-timers] Was this the same thing for you?
How about you? [ask one of the people who have had another car accident]
(5 minutes) [ask specific people] On a scale of one to five—where five is something you'd never, ever, ever want to go through again and one is, say, a paper cut—how would you rate how annoyed you were overall? [everyone] Any fives? [if so, ask specific people why]
(3 minutes) Using the list we put together earlier, I'd like to do a quick rating of each of these points. Using a one-to-five scale, put your hand up to
(3 minutes) What about good experiences? Was anyone pleasantly surprised by something? What was it that surprised you? What made it a good experience? Any others?
If time allows:
Any other positive experiences with, say, a
(1 minute) So the rest of you have been in at least one other accident. Has anyone here been in more than two? Three? Four? [keep going]
(2 minutes) [Ask the most
Objective: Determine points of pain in the repair experience and how people choose their repair shops.
OK, let's change gears here for a second and talk about how your car got fixed.
(5 minutes) Let's rate your body shop experiences. One means it was a good experience, five means it was a bad experience, and three means it was OK, considering the fact that that it's not something that any of us do for entertainment. Just raise your hand with the number. [if someone has a one or two, ask] What was good about it?
(5 minutes) Who had a bad experience? [Ask a couple of people who had fours or fives] What was the worst thing about it? Anyone else have this experience? [pick a person] Was this the worst part, or did you have bigger hassles?
Were there any other hassles that you had to put up with when dealing with the garage?
(5 minutes) Say someone was available to give you advice about body shops or garages. At what point would you have most wanted to be able to ask someone for advice? [ask people
If there's time:
(5 minutes) [Go around] How did you pick where your car was repaired? Would you choose a different place if you had to do this again?
(5 minutes) Let's make a list. What things are important when choosing a body shop?
(3 minutes) [Pick a couple of people] If a friend or a co-worker got into an accident and asked you how to choose a place to get his or her car fixed, what kind of advice would you give him or her?
Objective: Determine points of pain in the claim experience and how people choose their insurance companies.
OK, let's change gears again and talk about the insurance part of the experience.
(3 minutes) First thing, did any of you change your insurance after your accident?
Are any of you thinking about changing your insurance? Is it because of the accident? [If so] Why?
(7 minutes) Take a minute to think about the most important thing you learned about car insurance from this experience. Think about all the things that you had to do and everything that went into the process. What were the biggest
[go around and discuss]
(5 minutes) [Ask one person] Say you were giving me advice about picking an insurance company. What kinds of things would you say are important when choosing an insurance company? [Ask second person] Is there anything else I should know? Anyone?
(1 minute) Are there any places I can go for information about various insurance companies and policies? Something that'll compare them for me.
(3 minutes) Say someone was available to give you advice about insurance companies. At what point would you have most wanted to be able to ask someone for advice? [ask people specifically]
If there's time:
(2 minutes) Who here paid their deductible immediately? Who waited two weeks? A month? More?
Anyone put his or her deductible on a credit card?
(5 minutes) Did any of you have any problems with your insurance company as far as your deductible was
(3 minutes) Wrapping up, in one quick
Objective: Introduce idea of AutoSafe.com and see if people understand and appreciate it; get some feature ideas through a short brainstorm; find out how they prioritize existing feature ideas.
OK, those are all the questions that I have about the problems that you had. I'd like to switch now to ways that we can solve these problems.
(1 minute) Say there was a Web site that helped keep track of your repair and that gave you information about what stage of the repair process you're in. Say this Web site also had links to unbiased information about both other insurance companies and body shops.
(2 minutes) Would you be interested?
(5 minutes) Let's brainstorm for a couple of minutes. Not thinking in terms of practicality at all, what would you like such a service to do for you? [write down ideas, if they get stumped, mention some of the existing ideas and see if that triggers anything]
(5 minutes) OK, how many people would like an unbiased information source that rates insurance companies, something like a Consumer Reports? Now, say you were looking at such a Web site and you noticed that there was an ad on it. Any of you have any issues with having an ad on a Consumer Reports-type of page? What if it were an ad for, say, Ford? What if it were an ad for a car insurance company?
If there's time:
(2 minutes) If this service was described to you as "your
Now, I'd like to ask a couple of general Web questions.
(3 minutes) Have any of you ever signed up for a service online where you had to enter your name and email address? How about your home address? How about your phone number?
(5 minutes) What kind of personal information do you folks feel uncomfortable giving to a Web site? [write down list] What about in exchange for a service? For instance, if you could have AutoSafe.com take care of all the paperwork for your claim and then just mail it to you at home, would you feel comfortable entering your home address? Is there anything on this list that you would never give to a Web site, no matter what?
Objective: Conclude focus group and give people contact information for further ideas.
I know you're all excited now and you probably want to talk about this stuff for hours, but
I have one final question, and it doesn't relate to insurance or car accidents or Web pages at all: is there anything that we could do better, either in terms of scheduling or in terms of running these groups? Should we have more snacks, a case of beer, whatever?
OK, thank you all very much for coming. It's been really interesting and helpful to hear your thoughts.