Envisioning a future-state of enrollment in voluntary benefits

Symetra Case Study Hero Image

Leverage customer experience to become the market leader in voluntary benefits

Symetra is leading financial services company, providing employee benefits, annuities and life insurance through a national network of benefit consultants, financial institutions, and independent financial professionals and insurance producers.  Known for their annuities and stop loss products, voluntary benefits has historically represented a small subset of their business. But with recent changes in the workforce owing to the rise of gig work and the pandemic, and with a growing need for products that supplement the gaps in traditional insurance coverage, Symetra saw an opportunity to expand and grow their business through their voluntary benefits channel.

Symetra leaders knew, however, that they were facing an uphill battle. While they saw a definite opportunity to expand their core business through the voluntary benefits channel, an antiquated enrollment process that prioritized the business over the customer presented a roadblock when it came to market penetration. Knowing that enrollment was at the heart of any solution, they brought in Cake & Arrow to help them envision a future-state enrollment experience for voluntary benefits that would elevate the needs of the customer and ultimately make Symetra the market leader in voluntary benefits.

Services Provided

User research & journeys

Concept evaluation

Product advocacy

Experience strategy


Communications strategy

Enrollment is a high-stakes, high-stress period for employees. 30-40% of those who begin the voluntary benefits enrollment process abandon it before taking an action
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Today, the enrollment process is challenging for customers

Approach & Solution

Building a market through education and connection

Using stakeholder discussions, industry insights, interviews with employees, and moderated user research we set out to uncover not only what is behind the low penetration rates in voluntary benefits, but what solutions might help address it.

The research was clear: a fundamental lack of understanding around what voluntary benefits are and why they are needed is driving low penetration. Employees don’t understand voluntary benefits, so they don’t enroll in them. Our experience recommendations centered around filling in this gap — through education and connection.

Taking what we learned through our discovery and early user research sessions, we prototyped, tested, and validated our experience recommendations in 1:1 moderated user interviews, laying out a vision for what a market-leading enrollment experience would look like.




From concept to validated UX in 3 weeks

Lo-fidelity, rapid prototyping allowed us to quickly work through many ideas for educating and connecting with customers — and then get them in front of users for review and refinement. This iterative cycle resulted in concrete, vetted experience design recommendations that were more than just conceptually sound — they were ready for action.

Cake & Arrow is a true partner—it's obvious we aren't dealing with a typical 'consultant.' You’ve completely earned our trust.

Head of Benefits at Symetra