Cake & Arrow: Rethinking the Digital User Experience

Alex Schmelkin, Founder and CEO, Cake & ArrowAlex Schmelkin, Founder and CEO
It is no secret that the insurance industry has been slow to meet the needs of a new customer-centric world, hampered by strict regulations and legacy systems. But in recent years, a few established insurers and a new breed of startups have emerged, eager to step up their game amid rapid technology innovations, as consumers expect quick and personalized access to services. In such a scenario, Cake & Arrow, a customer experience agency, is redefining the customer–agent relationship in insurance through its research-generated insights and human-centered design and technology. With over 15 years of experience in designing unique digital experiences, Cake& Arrow is setting a new paradigm in insurance with a focus on UX design, lead-generation, salesforce enablement, and mobile experiences.

With a strong footing in the retail sector, Cake & Arrow’s deep understanding of business practices in e-commerce also translates into designing game-changing digital products and services in insurance. “Insurance companies face the same dilemma as most retail businesses,” says Alex Schmelkin, founder & CEO, Cake & Arrow. “In both industries, we see businesses striving to leverage digital touchpoints as a transformation engine to simplify purchasing and payment.” With years of expertise studying user behavior and consumer psychology, Cake & Arrow brings to the insurance industry compelling insight into how a radical orientation toward customers can help carriers stay ahead of the competition.

Always People-Centered

The company starts every project by engaging in focused user research on the challenge at hand, studying the needs of end-consumers, brokers, and insurers. Cake & Arrow’s solutions are tailored to a client’s business goals and the actionable insights derived from initial research and its domain expertise. As the insurance industry opens up to rapid product diversification and an end-to-end customer approach, Cake & Arrow’s value proposition lies in the speed and accuracy with which the company delivers its solutions. While internal underwriting models and vast IT expenses often deter organizations from introducing new insurance products, Cake & Arrow designs, configures, and tests solutions that are ready for launch within weeks as opposed to months or years.

Oftentimes, after investing significantly in state-of-the-art solutions, businesses face product stagnation. “We help insurance companies break free from a ‘business as usual’ mindset by continuously guiding our clients through an ongoing practice of research testing and validation that ensures additional value and a shorter product development lifecycle,” says Schmelkin. Apart from reinventing customer experience, Cake & Arrow’s growth and business strategies also accelerate sales and client conversions. “We excel at finding an intersection between achieving business priorities and developing state-of-the-art insurance products that end-consumers love,” adds Schmelkin.

We never settle for mediocrity. We are analytical and purposeful in our endeavors, addressing client requirements in a highly data based and efficient way

Cake & Arrow’s ingenuity in delivering customer-centered solutions came to light when the company assisted MetLife Auto and Home in reimagining its direct-to-consumer experience. While the client wanted to increase its revenue and customer base by expanding into new markets, Cake & Arrow developed a self-service, mobile-first digital experience that reinvented client engagement. “Our research revealed that people choose insurance based on service quality, transparency, and control— not just price,” says Schmelkin. Cake & Arrow built a first of its kind digital portal that allowed MetLife customers to quote, purchase, and customize auto insurance online, without an agent or representative. Backed by Cake & Arrows’ expertise, MetLife was able to set a benchmark in mobile auto insurance quoting and buying.

Resetting the Customer-Agent Experience

Many carriers today are investing in their direct-to-consumer strategies as they aim to automate the entire insurance process from quoting and purchasing to renewals and claims management. While a focus on DTC strategy is critical, 90 percent of life insurance and annuities are still sold to customers through agents—an experience which continues to be inhibited by outdated IT systems and archaic digital tools. According to Schmelkin, one of Cake & Arrow’s key areas of focus as an agency is in helping insurers modernize the agent-customer experience by designing simple, easy to use digital tools. Staffed with an eclectic group of researchers, visual designers, and product strategists, Cake & Arrow constantly strives to create a harmonious confluence between best-in-class technology and design and forward-thinking insurance practices. Additionally, recognized on multiple occasions as one of the best places to work in New York City, the company attracts a dynamic set of individuals and innovative thinkers. “We never settle for mediocrity. We are analytical and purposeful in our endeavors, addressing client requirements in a highly data-based and efficient way,” remarks Schmelkin.

In the months to come, the company is expanding its services beyond insurance to other areas of finance including working with clients and investing in its own R&D around blockchain and alternative payments. According to a report by Gartner, more than 50 percent of organizations will implement new business models by 2018, in an effort to refine their customer experience. Currently, enhanced customer experience is considered more profitable than sophisticated advertising or lowered price points, and an advanced customer experience program is perceived as essential for brand survival. Always staying ahead with innovation to improve its solutions, Cake & Arrow is also aligning with next-gen SaaS platforms that are at the leading edge of customer experience. “We see ourselves at the forefront of shaping powerful customer experiences by emerging as the de facto performance engine for the insurance industry,” ends Schmelkin.