Crosschannel concept testing

Cost transparency

in healthcare

+ Premera vendor

"There's no way in hell I would be able to remember all that information…[this voicemail is] brutal …humans can't remember 8 digits [reference number]. I would panic, call my wife and ask 'do you know why they're calling me?"  - Participant 1, original voicemail

Premera partnered with another company to provide members with just-in-time information that could help them lower their healthcare costs significantly - often over $1,000 with just one phone call.  This was the first time Premera was reaching out to customers on the phone, so we wanted to test the experience before launch (60 days). I was asked to lead two teams in observing and applying user research - the vendor team and Premera's team (Utilization Management, Marketing, Voice of Customer). 

Adoption rates of the new customer experience were higher than expected and annual cost savings is projected to be in the millions as the program shifts out of beta. Our team's findings about how to share cost transparency data were presented nationally at the "Best of Blues" Blue Cross conference. 

Because this project was a "first" for Premera, I created a company-wide document about how to collaborate with vendors and build relationships using customer experience research. It included concrete details: scheduling, timelines, how to stay in touch, tools for collaboration and how to set expectations for each phase (pre, during and post-research). 

Role / 

Lead User Researcher 


Utilization Management

Premera vendor


Voice of Customer

Industry / 

Healthcare B2B

Research builds connections that last

The experience of listening to users together forged bonds that have made for even deeper collaboration after launch:   

"When an issue came up, as team with the vendor we were able to look at the exact part of the experience together.  We were on the   same page from the get go because of the research."

                                                                  -Premera team member

How do you test a live phone conversation?  





The touchpoints were a phone call, several voice mail messages and follow-up emails. Testing the user experience of a live phone conversation was challenging. When does the participant give feedback? What if they forget parts of the experience before they get a chance to give feedback? 


With my teammates Macauley and Johanna, we piloted a protocol involving a retrospective thinkaloud. I got permission to record video of the participant while they were on the mock phone call. I then replayed the video, inviting them to press play, and pause, and give commentary on specific moments in the arc of the call - turning points, confusion, excitement, frustration.

Several participants remarked upon how "fun" it was. They seemed to appreciate being given the reins - interpreting for us with a chuckle what a certain facial expression meant. 

© 2018 Ariel Duncan

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