We caught up with Becki Hyde, the Digital Product Manager within the Digital Experience Center at Humana to find out how her UX team is leading the charge for better customer experience company-wide.

Tell me about your work at Humana.

I am a Product Manager in the Digital Experience Center. We’re a software accelerator for Humana situated within the IT organization. We employ Lean, Agile and Human-Centered software development practices to support Humana’s goals and provide products and services that solve problems for our consumers. Humana takes a human-centered approach and as a product manager, I help to infuse the consumer’s perspective into the work that we do. I have a background in user experience design and was a UX designer on the team before transitioning into product management.

Our team serves in a teaching capacity at Humana, too, so we explore new tools and technology and then share what we find effective with other teams within the company. In addition, we are part of the larger technology community and regularly host a weekly lunch series and meetups in our space.

What are some of the challenges you face within UX at Humana?

As a product manager, my biggest challenge is balancing the needs of business, technology and the users.  Those are the three main stakeholders in any piece of software, and their needs and motivations are often at odds. As PM, I have to decide how we’re going to spend our limited time and resources, to make sure we’re prioritizing the things that are most useful for the user, beneficial to our business, and also feasible from a technology perspective. It requires constant prioritization and there’s a healthy push and pull between those three things.

A challenge specific to my role is providing a great user experience while also protecting user privacy. This can be difficult, but it’s very important that we keep people’s information secure, because we’re dealing with very sensitive data in the healthcare industry. It can be challenging to give people a great experience, but also protect their privacy, because better security often means a more complicated technical implementation. Dealing with regulations and giving users what they want is a particular challenge in the healthcare industry.

What has made you successful as a UX professional?

Two main things come to mind and I’ve learned both of these things from my team here at the Digital Experience Center at Humana. The first is genuine curiosity. I try to approach all of my work from a mindset of curiosity, which is all about asking questions and being humble.

Curiosity helps me to be a better collaborator and helps me avoid assumptions. It helps me learn from others, and it’s especially helpful in research. Curiosity helps me build empathy with users. When I go into an interview or field visit with the user of an application that we’re building, I’m going in with the approach of genuine curiosity – to learn as much as I can. It enables me to tap into their needs. Having that perspective in the workplace also helps me learn from the people that I work with.

The other quality that I think has made me successful is relentless optimism. I first heard this from my leader here in the DEC. Oftentimes work can be frustrating, and things don’t go as smoothly as we might want them to, but resetting on relentless optimism has served me incredibly well. Enterprise software development is incredibly complex – so just remaining positive, assuming the best intentions of others, and celebrating our successes, has really helped me through a lot of challenging projects.

What are a few things that Humana is doing right with UX?

Humana’s investment in customer experience is huge. Recently, customer experience is becoming a common refrain in health care industry, but Humana has been doing this for years. The entire time I’ve worked at Humana the mantra has been to put the consumer at the center of everything we do.

Our corporate values and goals speak directly to customer experience and to helping our users achieve well-being in all areas of their lives. That’s a really meaningful mission for someone working in user experience. To be able to say I have executive level support is empowering.

This support shows because we invest in tools and processes that support a user-centered approach.  It also shows by encouraging more and more teams to do research with consumers and to build empathy for them.  I’ve never had to argue with anyone about whether or not we were going to do user research on a product. I never have to beg for budget – which I know is a challenge for a lot of people in my role at other companies.

Who do you follow and what have you been reading lately that you’re really excited about?

I keep in touch with my MidwestUX community. MidwestUX is a great conference that happens every October. I was involved in co-chairing it a couple of years ago. They also have a Slack community and they’re active on social media. MidwestUX is a great place to engage with other people who are doing really great work in the user experience community. Their events are just a huge value for the money and I really credit a lot of my growth professionally to that community.

In regards to what I’m reading, I’m just finishing up The Best Interface Is No Interface by Golden Krishna. It’s really speaking to me! I feel like it should be required reading for anyone who’s working in interface design. It speaks to the problems that we are introducing for our users by putting everything on the screen and some solutions for how we can move past that into experiences that are more meaningful and effective.

I also follow Ken Norton’s newsletter Bringing the Donuts and the Mind the Product blogs for the product manager hat that I wear.

What UX trends should we be looking for in 2018?

I honestly hope that we’ll continue to move beyond screen-based interfaces and toward more natural interaction with software. A good example of this is the increasing prevalence of voice technology. The Alexa’s and Siri’s of the world are just the beginning. I hope that we can continue to move in the direction that Golden Krishna talks about in his book – getting people out of their screens, and using software and user experience to support meaningful interactions.

I also think that user experience professionals in 2018 will have more than just a seat at the table. I think we’ll begin to lead the conversation about designing and building experiences for humans, especially in technology.

Contact us to share your story and be featured on a future UX Spotlight segment!

At Handrail, we believe conducting user research is a critical part of creating a successful product or service. So we interviewed UX professionals from various industries and in different phases of growth in order to gather insights and strategic advice. And now we want to share those interviews with you!

 

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