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Creating Customer-Driven Value: An Interview with Benefitfocus Chief Strategy Officer

If there’s one constant in the benefits landscape, it’s change. At Benefitfocus, we’re committed to staying laser focused on how that change impacts our customers so we can continue innovating our platform to solve their biggest challenges. That requires a detail-oriented product team that keeps a pulse on how market dynamics are evolving while listening to customer feedback. To lead that team, we’re pleased to have Benefitfocus Chief Strategy Officer Tina Provancal.

We recently spent time with Tina to learn more about her background and what customers can expect from product strategy at Benefitfocus.

Q: You have extensive experience leading key initiatives across product management, customer service and transformation for best-in-class organizations including Aon, Fidelity and Accolade. What excites you about joining Benefitfocus?

“I'm honestly incredibly honored to be able to join the team at Benefitfocus. I've spent a lot of time over the past several years in the health care industry in a lot of different capacities, but always driving change or looking to disrupt the industry. And I think what excites me most about joining Benefitfocus is the opportunity to contribute to driving meaningful change.

The talent is incredible, and I think people are really ready to dive in. They're ready for a change, they're very passionate, and they care about the company and their customers.”

Q: How do you approach building relationships with customers?

“Spending time with our customers is absolutely critical. I think building those relationships, really hearing what they have to say – not just listening, but understanding what their goals are, understanding how we can react to that and bring them solutions that drive value for their business. I think the more opportunity we have to be with our customers and spending time in front of our customers, the better. So, myself and my team will be looking for every chance we have to get out in the market to join meetings.

I think Benefitfocus is in a unique position – serving health plans, serving employers, and serving brokers gives us an opportunity to understand the dynamics in a in an ecosystem that all relate. They're all uniquely trying to solve the same problems. They're all trying to retain whether it's customer retention, employee retention, member attention. They're all trying to drive revenue and contain their costs. What's really unique about that is that they, in some form or fashion, support each other or serve each other in some way as well. Being able to spend time with each of our unique customers gives us an opportunity to understand the perspective of how they interrelate and bring solutions to market that helps them support those relationships as well.

Q: How do you encourage creative thinking within your organization?

“Driving a creative team is a lot of fun, and I think that's actually the key to it. You have to bring fun into it. You want to move away from the status quo. You want to get people really comfortable. And I would say start off with a challenge and then be really clear on what you're asking for. Give them a challenge and then give them the space for the creativity to come. Give them some time, have them find where they're most comfortable.

I’m personally comfortable in a coffee shop alone for two hours with a pencil and a blank piece of paper. I like to draw, so everyone needs to find what those spaces are for them personally. But I think it's also being open to what doesn't work. Not everything's going to work. It’s important to have fun with that as well. Iterate on it. Something that I think really helps is give a team a challenge, have them come back and share their ideas as a group, and then swap ideas within the team to iterate on again. This often results in new concepts and thought-provoking dialogue. I think it's important to talk with people instead of trying to just come up with something on your own….wrap it up with an award at the end of the year for the best idea that just didn't work out. This builds a safe people for teams to think out of the box.”

Q: What is the key to creating a successful product roadmap?

If you're spending time with your customers and you really, truly understand their needs, and you also have a pulse on what's going on in the market from a competitive landscape – speaking to consultants, brokers and third-party evaluators – you can really understand what you need to do to bring value to market and act fast. And that's really the key to building out your product roadmap. You want to bring value fast, you want to iterate and bring new solutions to customers quickly, and you don't want to look out on a five-year horizon because everything in health care changes quickly. You have to stay in front of it and react.

Ready to see what Tina and her team have brought to market? Request a demo today!