Enhancing Engagement: Jessica Austin Barker, TIAA

In the latest episode of the Life Accelerated podcast, Jessica Austin Barker, Chief Digital and Client Experience Officer at TIAA, talks about the design-led approach that’s reshaping how TIAA interacts with its diverse clientele.

Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America, more commonly known as TIAA (New York), is a century-old financial institution with deep roots in serving educators, healthcare personnel, and the non-profit sector. Founded by Andrew Carnegie, the organization’s mission is to ensure Americans retire with dignity. Today, that mission is driving the company into a new age of innovation.

Andrew Carnegie, Scottish-born American entrepreneur and founder of TIAA.

For the latest episode of the Life Accelerated podcast, Insurance Innovation Reporter had the opportunity to speak with Chief Digital and Client Experience Officer, Jessica Austin Barker, about the design-led approach that’s reshaping how TIAA interacts with its diverse clientele and the organization’s plans to harness the power of AI. Jessica explains that TIAA is blending the lines between technology and the human touch in financial and retirement planning. She also shares insights into TIAA’s quest to reIMAGINE financial advice, centering the client experience and cultivating a co-creative environment among their employees.

One of the things I found most interesting about Jessica was that during her career she spent two decades focusing on creating an intuitive customer experience for a complex, highly regulated process. That experience was extremely relevant to her work in the insurance industry and specifically at TIAA. One of the most important tasks she faced was to take the passion associates felt for the company’s mission, and applying that to working toward a modern customer experience.

In our conversation, Jessica talks about a diagnostic process to shape planning, and then the arduous work of shifting from mission-centric to mission-AND-customer centric. From a more purely technological standpoint, Jessica’s team spent a lot of time building out data and analytics and—as she said—“wiring data as a product,” in order shape better digital experiences based on an understanding of a customer’s behavior.

Like most life insurance companies, TIAA is taking an energetic but cautious approach to AI. However, the company has established core principles and aspires to be an AI-first company. Jessica calls herself a “big fan of the intersection of the digital and the human,” because she believes that the complex and often very emotional process of preparing for retirement will benefit from an optimal combination of the two.

The Life Accelerated podcast is created in partnership with Equisoft. Don’t miss an episode! Subscribe today at https://www.equisoft.com/life-accelerated-podcast.

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