for March 2018
Here is a quick run-down on what you will find in this bulletin:
These topics will be dealt with in more detail throughout this
Face amounts will seem like a very strange topic for a bulletin. How could anyone need help with the simplest thing a subscriber needs to enter in order to get a quote. If you take the time to read this, I think you will learn something new that will prove useful to you.
What provoked the subject is the challenge we face as we move toward a fuller web based quoting system. While we have no intention of abandoning our Windows PC product, which remains our most powerful quoting system for agents, there are a number of reasons for us to have a web based version that does the things that the windows version does. The primary reason is the increasing number of computers and devices that are not compatible with Windows software. There is no sign that this trend is going to stop.
The problem is that we can do, and are doing things with our Windows program, that are not easily replicated with a web based product that is run using a browser. And if you write browser based software code that is too "bleeding edge", one browser may run it quite nicely, while another browser doesn't like it at all. We have always tried to write the most generic types of code to ensure that our software runs on one and all the same, and that's not easy.
I hope the following discussion of face amount entry, in both our Windows PC software and in our browser editions, helps make this clear. And as I said, I think you may find you have some options you didn't know you had.
Face Amounts - Windows PC
I think the face amount selection/entry function that we have in our Windows PC software is simply the best versus any web based system that we have encountered or that I am aware of. If you know of a better one, I would like to hear about it.
The face amount entry for Compulife's Windows PC software offers the user two quick and easy ways to enter a face amount.
First, you can use the down button to the right of the face amount to display a list of default face amounts. If you are looking to switch from what you have in the face amount field already, to a face amount such as $250,000 or $500,000, then the quick way to do that is to click the down button and click on the face amount you want.
But what about the situation where you want $625,000, and when you click the down button that face amount is not on the list. The second way to enter a face amount is instead of clicking the down button simply click inside the face amount field itself, and use your numeric pad (and the delete key) to change what is there to what you actually want. Using the numeric keys you can enter in any face amount to the single dollar. You would be surprised to know they are some who don't realize that you can do that.
While the number of people who don't know you can enter any face amount you want is in the minority, I would venture to guess that the majority of our customers do not realize that there is a way to add or remove defaults face amounts on the down button list.
If you go to the Red Menu of Compulife, the menu you see in the top left of the computer screen when you first open Compulife, you can select the 4th option which is "Manage Product Database". For many subscribers, the only thing they use on that menu is in the middle of that list, "Select A Group of Companies to Quote".
But if you look further down on that list, about 2/3rd of the way down, you will find, "Modify Face Amount Selection Values". When you choose that option, the same list of default face amounts that show up in the face amount selection field on the client entry window, will appear. You can change, delete or add any face amount to that list.
For example, our smallest default face amount is $50,000, but lets assume that you do a lot of permanent insurance on much older people looking for burial insurance amounts and you often quote $10,000 or $25,000. It makes sense to add those face amounts to the list. If you don't often do that, then leave $50,000 as the smallest value, and if you want a face amount of $25,000, then just click the down button, select $50,000, then click in front of the "5" and push the number keys "2" and "5". Your $50,000 becomes $25,000.
In fact that's a trick I use all the time. If I am quoting a face amount not on the list, I grab the closest thing to what I want from the default list then modify that. If I want $1,100,000, then I select $1,000,000 from the list, and click between the "1" and the first "0" (zero). That puts the cursor after the one and in front of the zero. Press the number "1" and you now have $1,100,000. If you want that same face amount, and you start with $250,000, then you have to click in front of the "2", then type "1" twice and 5 zeroes. I don't have the patience for that, and usually if I do that on someone else's face amount entry field, I end up with either $110,000 or $11,000,000 and get to do some more work correcting it.
And for that reason, that's why I love our face amount entry field in the Windows PC program. The challenge is how do you create that same experience in web quoting options. That, as they say, "is the monkey in the wrench".
Face Amounts - Web Quotes
For web quotes we currently can do either option. Here are the examples:
Select Face Amount From List
Enter Face Amount With Numeric Keys
However, doing or offering both on the same page is a big challenge and we have not figured out how to do it as simply as we do in our Windows PC software. There is no way to get what we have in a single field. We have when trying to come up with an alternative but it's a real mind bender.
I should note that during the drafting of this bulletin we have had some new ideas and are playing around with some ways to get there. They were not ready in time for this month's bulletin, but I will have more on it next month.
While all of this may sound like a lot of concern about a small matter, "ease and simplicity of use" is a big part of people's satisfaction with using software. Think about micro wave ovens. They all have the same touch pad screen hardware, but the buttons and the way you enter instructions varies from company product to company product. You learn how to use the micro wave at home, and you can quickly cook anything you want for as long as you want. Then you go on vacation and the micro wave that you have there works differently. Nothing spoils the start of the vacation like trying to figure out how to enter in 25 seconds to cook a hot dog. Some micro waves, like the one we have at home, are simple. You just type "2" and "5" and push "start" (my favorite). Others require you to first push the "time/start" button in order to do that. If you forget and push the 2, the darn thing starts cooking your hot dog for 2 minutes. GRRRRRRR!
The other one that gets me is the different credit card readers that various stores and restaurants use for taking credit cards where you are the one that has to run the credit card through the machine. Can no one in that industry come up with a "standard" way to do it?
At least with computer keyboards we have the standard qwerty board and they are all the same. Wait a minute...
That another pet irritation I have. If I have to sit down at someone else's computer, I discover that they have put the keys that are not the alphabet keys, in different places. Worse, they are in different shapes and sizes. Laptops are especially horrendous.
My solution is that I bulk buy my favorite Keytronics keyboards (about $25 per pop). Those keyboards have the old IBM Selectric typewriter layout and the keys are in the same position I have used on such keyboards for over 30 years. Anyway, I make sure that every computer I use has that keyboard. I even use the USB version of that keyboard with my laptops (I dislike laptop keyboards intensely). I refuse to struggle while moving from one keyboard to another and that makes the user experience much, much better.
Which brings me back to face amounts. Our Windows PC face amount entry is just great. It works well and I can't recall the last time a customer had a negative comment about it.
Back to face amount for our web quoting option, where you place the web quote option on your web site so that your visitors can do their own quotes. As stated earlier, we have the two options above, and currently you can use either one for your web quotes.
If your website is primarily targeted at consumers, I would use the select face amount from a list. If you feel that you need to change the list of face amounts, call us and we can do that for you. At some point the ability to do that will be part of your control panel, but those improvements are things that we are planning AFTER the database overhaul. In the meantime we are happy to do it for you.
If the target audience for your web quotes are agents, then you will want them to be able to enter any face amount. For those you will want the enter face amount option. That way, the system can produce a quote for ANY face amount your visitor wants (apart from the restrictions imposed upon products by the life companies themselves).
Once again, if you have face amounts you want added to your list, or if you want to switch to the function that lets your visitor put in any face amount they want just let us know and we will update your page with the changes you require.
As I said earlier, we may have a new, third option that we will introduce to you next month. As for other improvements we have planned, once the conversion to the new data structure is complete, much later this year, and after the release of the new CQS.EXE windows version of Compulife, we'll be focusing our attention on implementing those improvements to the web quoting system. That will include introducing a Pick 12 function for the "basic" version of Compulife. That will be part of a new "Basic Plus" version.
Work Continues on the Database Update
As we have talked about in the past, we are currently going through a massive overhaul to our system, putting into place a new data structure that is more dynamic and will permit future modification and enhancement to occur more quickly. We are also moving a number of our current behind the scenes utilities from DOS to Windows in order to make it easier for us to maintain the software.
We have always focussed on making sure that the most modern features and functions are given to our customers first. If we have some extra work to do, on the maintenance side of the system, that's fine. No one really is concerned about how much work we do to keep the system up-to-date. But as time marches on it is important to get our ducks in a line so that in a few years the next generation can maintain the system and keep it as reliable and accurate as it has been for the last 30 years.
When released, the new program (CQS.EXE) will be a separate stand alone product from the current program (GOWIN.EXE). We will, for a fairly long period of time, actually provide both. Even though the new program will look and appear more modern, there will be those that like the old stuff better and we want to offer a transition period where everyone can get accustomed to the new software. We also want to have a fall back position in case someone hits a big bug in the new product, and still needs to get a quote out in the next minute before the new version has been fixed.
Maintaining the data for both systems, where the new system will have radically different data files, will necessitate an internal conversion system to change old data to new data before the updates are shipped. We will maintain old, then convert to new and ship both sets. We plan to do that for a fairly significant period of time. That conversion process will continue until we are certain that all the tools to maintain the new data are working properly, and that we can maintain the new without the need for conversion. At that point we will put the old system out to pasture.
The time period for this transition will be lengthy and we will be in no rush to bury the old data. We intend to run both system for a significant period. This will also give our internet engine customers a fairly lengthy time to implement the new system. The new internet engine will require some changes, mostly to variable names which we intend to change. I will have more information about that later in the year. The good news is that should be a simple find and replace process. Apart from that, the new internet engine software will function pretty much the same as the old.