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How CUNA Mutual Uses Gamification To Improve Annuities Sales

The provider of financial services to credit unions and their members deploys game-design techniques to improve customer experience and transform the sales process.

This Is Not A Game

The Zone is not a game, Hensen emphasizes. "We're using game-design techniques and mechanics to solve problems and engage customers," she explains. "It's a really effective technique, because we can move from telling folks to showing them, and then ultimately letting them try things. It drives a higher level of engagement and increased emotional connection, because they have been able to more fully interact with the process."

The roughly 3-1/2-month development process included obtaining feedback from the advisers themselves. According to Hensen, "We used a more iterative approach, where we developed smaller pieces of the solution and then were able to demonstrate and use those pieces as we went along, versus a traditional waterfall methodology" where the technology team collects requirements and then unveils a complete product without any feedback. "We have moved well away from that, to that more rapid kind of 'fail fast,' rapid proof-of-concept technique," she says.

These efforts have paid off in a tool that has been widely accepted and already is contributing to increased business, Hensen reports. "The advisers have really responded to the ease of use and the engaging graphics, and they are citing improved productivity," she reports. "The easy-to-understand graphics really minimize the chance of misunderstanding and help ensure a suitable sale. What we're hearing from the advisers is that it's a more engaging experience for the members: They can actually drive the upside and downside, and it's easier for them to convey the outcome."

Regarding the impact on sales of the annuity, Hensen reports, "First-year sales exceeded our target by more than 300%." Additionally, there has been an uptick in the use of mobile technology by CUNA Mutual's financial advisers, she says. "They've got a much easier solution to use to facilitate the conversation. It's less about the typing and more about that conversation. The increased use of mobile apps with our licensed advisers is a big metric for us."

CUNA Mutual plans to expand the kinds of capabilities included in the Zone as part of the ongoing effort to "simplify the complex and create that customer experience -- any area where we can facilitate and support the consultation process," Hensen says.

Katherine Burger is Editorial Director of Bank Systems & Technology and Insurance & Technology, members of UBM TechWeb's InformationWeek Financial Services. She assumed leadership of Bank Systems & Technology in 2003 and of Insurance & Technology in 1991. In addition to ... View Full Bio

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