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Elena Sinekovich

Elena Sinekovich
As a content writer at UXPressia, I am keen to find and share the best CX, UX, and journey mapping practices.

How American Equity expands its digital presence with UXPressia

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American Equity Investment Life Insurance Company® is a leader in the fixed indexed retirement annuities marketplace. Since being founded in 1995, it has currently grown to 800-plus employees. 

The company slogan “The One Who Works for You!®” serves as the foundation for the way American Equity does their business. They are dedicated to providing excellent customer service and emphasize the importance of building customer relationships. 

Guided by their principles of excellence, American Equity goes beyond selling retirement annuity products. They strive to foster opportunity and innovation to meet the ever-changing needs and goals of retirement.

The challenge

The company knew having a manual or antiquated IT system driven process flow didn’t meet their customers’ needs and were looking to expand the use of digital technologies as existing options.

“We want to extend our digital presence, and our customers, at a high level, are asking for more options,” said John Schmidt, Business Initiatives Partner, Customer Excellence at American Equity.

They decided to develop new digital experience initiatives and chose to use customer journey mapping as a proven way to arrive at informed decisions.  

“We had a plan to create several journey maps that would reflect the current state of our operations areas, with a specific focus on our digital footprint.”

Initially, American Equity used Microsoft Visio to visualize their customer journeys. But, the mapping team felt they needed more collaborative features for more effective work and a choice of templates for quicker map creation. 

To enhance their Visio maps and improve the way they worked on them, they decided to find more powerful and feature-rich software.    

The solution 

Having researched different mapping software, the company settled on UXPressia since the tool offered all the features they needed for collaborative map creation.

“The initial attraction we had to UXPressia was the pre-built templates for different types of journey maps.”

Templates came in handy to quickly start new personas and journey maps. 

“Sharing links to maps publicly and through a virtual session was also seamless.”

After the team tested the tool in practice, it completely replaced Visio for American Equity.

Creating journey maps and personas in UXPressia

The mapping process is usually done virtually during online sessions. The cross-functional team often uses a screen share to populate the maps in a brainstorming joint exercise. In some cases, American Equity uses completed survey data to gather key details and then vet those against their personas and customer focus groups.

Since the collaboration features available in UXPressia greatly facilitate teamwork, the map creation process consists of several steps.

To start, a cross-functional team scopes the beginning and end points of a map and defines key journey stages or actual customer touchpoints. Then, they engage in brainstorming and focus group sessions to fill in the specific process steps, customer perceptions, pain points, and future opportunities. 

The completed journeys and findings are then shared with American Equity’s IT, Operations, Leaders, and Development teams to ensure the customer needs are being included in their future state design. 

With UXPressia, the team have created about 15 different personas and integrated them into the various journeys they mapped out.

“We have created maps for education/training, initial sale, product support, and partner interactions. We are using these to augment our future state strategy planning by taking the customer needs from the maps and embedding them in our future state.”

The plans

American Equity will continue creating customer journeys as they keep implementing digital upgrades.

“We would prefer not to pass outdated or unnecessary processes into our future state. The goal is to be transformational and best in class, not a lift and shift or suboptimal result.”

Besides increasing digital engagement, the company intends to enhance their straight through processing (STP) of agent and customer transactions.

To gauge the success of these upgrades, the team is going to track customer satisfaction score and customer effort score metrics. 

“Our end goal is digital adoption and straight through processing improvements.”

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