Susan Sachatello, CUNA Mu­tual

Digital Insurance - - CONTENTS - By Danni San­tana

Af­ter 20-plus years run­ning dig­i­tal ad­ver­tis­ing and e-com­merce for prom­i­nent U.S. re­tail brands, Susan Sachatello’s ar­rival at CUNA Mu­tual Group was noth­ing short of an ac­ci­dent. “A re­cruiter asked me to sug­gest some peo­ple to meet with CUNA,” she says. “But they ended up want­ing to meet me in­stead.”

Sachatello quickly rec­og­nized in­sur­ance was ripe for a di­rect–to-con­sumer busi­ness model, sim­i­lar to those she helped ex­e­cute as chief mar­ket­ing of­fi­cer of both Lands’ End and Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret.

“I couldn’t wrap my head around how Zap­pos could have a left and right shoe in a box and to you in 24 hours, yet it took 21 days to get a pol­icy in cus­tomers’ hands,” she says. “My lack of un­der­stand­ing en­abled me to ask ques­tions in a man­ner a typ­i­cal in­sur­ance com­pany would not have thought of.”

Sachatello joined the com­pany in

2011, and by 2012 had led the launch of TruS­tage, CUNA Mu­tual’s con­sumer re­tail brand, which she man­ages as se­nior vice pres­i­dent. The omni-chan­nel plat­form is de­signed to serve mid­dle-mar­ket con­sumers’ — fam­i­lies with an­nual house­hold in­comes rang­ing from $30,000 to $100,000 — life, health, auto and home in­sur­ance needs.

Ev­ery prod­uct in CUNA’s port­fo­lio has been re­worked us­ing lan­guage that is more con­sumer-ori­ented, Sachatello ex­plains. The com­pany also ex­panded its mar­ket­ing strat­egy be­yond di­rect mail to in­clude na­tional com­mer­cials and on­line ads. Un­der Sachatello’s lead­er­ship, TruS­tage’s busi­ness has grown from $705 mil­lion in rev­enue in 2012 to $1.1 bil­lion at the end of 2016. The brand cur­rently in­sures 18 mil­lion cus­tomers.

When asked which of her ac­com­plish­ments she is most proud of from her time at CUNA, Sachatello quickly replies, “The strength of the team.” She is an ex­ec­u­tive spon­sor of CUNA Mu­tual’s PRISM Em­ployee Re­source Group, a seg­ment in the in­surer’s Di­ver­sity & In­clu­sion ini­tia­tive sup­port­ing les­bian, gay, bi­sex­ual and trans­gen­der em­ploy­ees. She also lunches with staff mem­bers and sum­mer in­terns to dis­cuss ca­reer goals and de­vel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Since launch, Sachatello and her team of in­cum­bent staff and re­cruited ta­lent from Google and Lands’ End have com­pletely re­built CUNA Mu­tual’s cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence strat­egy in ef­forts to re­main rel­e­vant to con­sumers. It’s a task she con­sid­ers her great­est chal­lenge.

“No great con­sumer brand will tell you, ‘Yep, I’m there,’” she says.

CUNA Mu­tual ex­pects more growth go­ing for­ward, as Sachatello and her team of 300 will con­tinue to ex­pand TruS­tage’s me­dia foot­print and lever­age con­sumer data to bet­ter un­der­stand cus­tomers.

Sachatello does not solely de­pend on tra­di­tional mar­ket re­search to gain mar­ket in­sight. In­stead, she re­lies on per­sonal home vis­its and lis­ten­ing to cus­tomer calls to un­der­stand prospec­tive client needs. CUNA Mu­tual also runs an an­nual con­sumer in­sights re­search project called “What Mat­ters Now” to learn of de­sign or cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence tweaks cus­tomers rec­om­mend.

“One of our re­cent top­ics was mil­len­ni­als’ re­la­tion­ship with e-com­merce,” she says. “I like to learn about other con­sumer brands cus­tomers ad­mire.”

Thanks to heavy in­vest­ments in its web­site and call cen­ter, the car­rier was able to roll out its sim­pli­fied is­sue term life prod­uct in June 2016, which lever­ages au­to­mated un­der­writ­ing to sell poli­cies in 11 min­utes. The new busi­ness line de­liv­ered $500 mil­lion in cov­er­age over its first year, adding to prof­its from CUNA Mu­tual’s accidental death and whole life prod­ucts. All of TruS­tage’s of­fer­ings are avail­able on­line, via mo­bile de­vice or tele­phone us­ing e-sig­na­ture.


CUNA Mu­tual also sports a grow­ing data­base of mar­ket data from 80 mil­lion con­sumer house­holds, which it ap­pends with third-party in­for­ma­tion. The com­piled list de­tails cus­tomer be­hav­ioral trends, de­tail­ing any­thing from com­monly read mag­a­zines in a home to the cars con­sumers drive. Google Key­word searches for life in­sur­ance, as an ex­am­ple, are also recorded.

“I am still in re­tail,” she as­serts, ex­plain­ing that the com­pany’s in­vest­ments in data and au­to­ma­tion tools have greatly ben­e­fited in­ter­nal work­flow and the con­sumer, much like other com­pa­nies. “Sell­ing in­sur­ance is ex­actly like Vic­to­ria’s


Susan Sachatello SVP, TruS­tage, CUNA Mu­tual Group

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