How Krista Nelson is Transforming The Commercial Model By Productizing Consumer Experience Management

The faculty of the Revenue Enablement Institute profiles the next generation of  growth leaders – CXOs – who are at the forefront of defining, enabling, and leading Revenue Operations.

Krista Nelson is the Chief Growth and Experience Officer at UnitedHealthcare, the insurance benefits and coverage division of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a health care and well-being company that offers a mix of health care solutions and services to help people live healthier lives and make the health system work better for everyone.

Improving the consumer experience has become a top priority as the health services industry goes through consumerization, and management prioritizes better health care access, outcomes, quality and cost.

We asked Krista Nelson to share how she has been able to lead the transformation of the commercial model and operationalize a deepened focus on the consumer at UnitedHealthcare.

Krista Nelson is the Chief Growth and Experience Officer at UnitedHealthcare

Nelson, who reports to the CEO in her role, has been tasked with leading the transformation of the end-to-end consumer journey – including the operations, systems and processes that enable it.

She has made significant progress in the short time she’s been assigned this significant task. Her efforts center on putting a system in place to make end-to-end cross functional consumer journey management operational. The journey starts with shopping and extends to enrollment, onboarding, purchasing, billing and ultimately retention and use. This looks good on paper but is extremely difficult in execution. Traditionally all of these activities would span three P&Ls at UnitedHealthcare (the Medicare, Medicaid, and Employer & Individual business units) and many more organizational silos and systems, according to Nelson.

Journey mapping and management is hard enough in digital channels. It’s extremely difficult when the consumer journey spans business units, P&Ls, a myriad of physical and digital touch points and a variety of teams.

Effectively managing experience and growth across this end-to-end consumer journey has forced Nelson and her team to rethink many aspects of their go-to-market. These changes include rethinking segmentation, measurement and incentives, and the leadership of consumer-facing products, systems and teams. She has “productized” 10 persona-based journeys that span functions and business units and apply to all forty-five million North American people the company serves.

The notion of managing the end-to-end consumer journey has forced Nelson’s team to reimagine how they segment consumers. “Traditionally, teams will segment different types of individuals based on needs or marketing opportunities – for example ‘indestructible young people’, or young families, or people with complex conditions in our industry,” says Nelson. “That’s because in marketing the goal is to understand their unique needs and tailor products or messaging to them.”

“When you’re managing the consumer experience you have to think differently about grouping people,” she continues. “The way we approached it is to look at the ten most important ‘jobs to be done’ in healthcare that are associated with points of friction or points of delight for the consumer. We essentially organize around those critical moments that matter to people so we can better manage them. We started with ten journeys. We are constantly learning and evolving. We know there’s probably more than that. And there’s alot of cross pollination among them. But we had to start somewhere and create a management structure, a measurement system, and a solid basis for organizing some of the data and insights that can give us visibility into those journeys.”

“When you look at those moments that matter to individuals, you see a lot of common themes,” says Nelson. “For example, a lot of people are overwhelmed when they shop for products. There are hundreds of options. They need help to pick the right one. So to improve the experience we have somebody who’s fully dedicated to that shopping moment.”

Nelson and her team have actually productized these key points of failure, friction, and delight in the journey as a way of making them operational, measurable and actionable. Each journey has a captain or “product manager” supported by a cross functional team who is accountable for all the moments that matter along that particular journey.

“We’ve staffed seasoned product leaders to actually own the experiences across our member’s journey,” says Nelson. “We call them experience leaders or product leaders. They are known as the leader in the enterprise for that experience. They’re accountable for pieces and parts of the member journey. It could be when people enroll in our products, onboarding into insurance for the first time – or helping people find and access care, manage and reconcile health bills, or retain their benefits. For example, we have somebody focused on helping members take advantage of and use their benefits.”

UnitedHealthcare End-to-End Consumer Experience

“Our experience leaders are really obsessed with consumer data because there’s a whole bunch of journey work and data analysis we are doing to better understand the steps that most members go through, and where the experience can be improved,” she continues. “They are constantly looking at surveys, listening to calls, understanding escalations or diving into transactional data to understand why was this member transferred here? Or why did this person get this letter?”

Managing the consumer experience across the enterprise has also forced Nelson’s team to rethink how they measure and manage success. “Improving the consumer experience and maximizing the lifetime value of a consumer across our products is something we as a business embrace culturally and from a service standpoint because our core mission is helping people live healthier lives,” says Nelson. “Getting the information we need to measure and operationally manage the consumer experience is something we are getting better at. It’s a journey.”

Part of the reason Nelson has been so successful, so quickly, is she has the CEO mandate and the span of control needed to get a high degree of visibility and control over the consumer journey. Which is rare. Nelson is a true “CXO.” As part of being Chief Growth and Experience Officer, she has a unique three-pronged job description – spanning product lines, systems and measurements of health outcomes. Specifically, Nelson owns individual product lines (she is CEO of Individual & Family Plans), consumer-facing systems (the Martech stack) and the analytics team that creates a 360-degree view of an individual’s health (called the Social Determinants of Health team). This broad remit gives her the span of control to take a “whole person,” 360-degree view of the overall health experience and health outcomes of the people served through UnitedHealthcare.

The notion of Revenue Operations – the operational alignment of sales, marketing and customer success around the customer – is a key to Nelson’s success. She views this as an increasingly critical business discipline that is essential to consistent and scalable growth in the modern marketplace.

“To focus on the customer experience, we have to organize and coordinate the people, process and technology of growth,” says Nelson. “We obviously have a huge company with lots of different matrixed teams, and I don’t own all the pieces that contribute to the consumer experience. So we have to find an effective way to align the operations, infrastructure, insights, data, and product development we need to impact and improve the consumer experience. To do this, we have individuals from various teams across the business that are aligned to support those journeys. We have data insights and research aligned. We’ve got an operator aligned. We’ve got a technology architect aligned. A digital leader. Product analyst. A marketing lead. They work together as a team in support of that experience.”

Nelson is paving the way for other businesses that are trying to more actively manage the revenue cycle because they are experiencing consumerization, pivoting to recurring revenue models, or trying to expand customer lifetime value through cross selling. 85% of businesses are actively changing the way they lead and align revenue teams and the operations that support them to better support the revenue cycle and focus more on the consumer, according to research in the book Revenue Operations. Over 9,000 businesses have introduced “CXO” roles that span traditional sales, marketing and service definitions to better align sales, marketing and success and expand the scope of operations leaders that manage the systems, data, content, and processes that support their revenue teams.

“It’s not perfect,” says Nelson. “But what really helps is improving the consumer experience and health outcomes is why people wake up every day to work here. They want to contribute to making healthcare easier because we all know how complicated it can be. I’d also say we are pretty self-aware that insurance companies may not traditionally be the best at that. We’re still learning a lot. But we have tried to take some of the most applicable best practices from other industries that have gone through the same kind of consumer transformation and apply them. We are always looking at best practices outside our industry and asking ourselves whether this can work for UnitedHealthcare and our members.”


Krista Nelson is the Chief Growth and Experience Officer at UnitedHealthcare

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