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S. USA Life brings insurance into a retail environment with mall-based customer centers and kiosks.

New York-based S. USA Life Insurance Co. ($1.4 billion in assets) is hitting the mall. The carrier is making life insurance more accessible through mall-located customer centers and self-serve kiosks.

"We've introduced a new functionality that all comes together in a retail environment that is very much new to the industry," says Eric Bulis, senior vice president of IT for S. USA Life parent company SBLI USA Mutual Life Insurance Co. "We were looking to add friendly and interactive services within a customer center in a way that would be just as usable as a banking customer using an ATM."

S. USA's four customer centers are positioned as retail stores in locations to provide convenience for consumers. The centers are concentrated in key market locations - New York; Buffalo; Bayamon, Puerto Rico; and Chicago.

"It's a self-serve system - we want to empower people with the information they need to make financial decisions," Bulis says. "So we have introduced our customer centers as interactive locations that are equipped with the technology to present our product portfolios and financial seminars to the community."

Each customer center is fitted with several self-serve kiosks equipped with a browser-based, centrally managed, network-based application. Bulis' IT team collaborated with marketing and sales to redesign components of S. USA Life's online Web site for the kiosks. "There are unique features that are not on our online customer portal," he relates. "Through the kiosk, a customer can receive a quote and a needs analysis, pay a premium, refer friends, and access our product portfolio with flash video interactive seminars, and their user information is placed in our database to accelerate fulfilling the customers' needs."

The kiosks also allow customers to schedule appointments with representatives in the customer center or purchase products. Additionally, the customer centers have the capabilities to serve as fully functional claim centers.

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