February 16, 2022

Redefining Pharma with Customer Centricity and Digital Experiences

Richard Clements
Richard Clements
Redefining Pharma with Customer Centricity and Digital Experiences

Events of the past two years have redefined the world in many ways. As work, processes, and systems moved online, the same technology brought specific challenges that previously helped us carry on. 

On the one hand, we gained unprecedented access to customers through digital channels. We have access to powerful software and tools that collect data and deliver actionable business insights from it. 

On the other hand, customers are overwhelmed with information, with thousands of companies doing the bulk of their business online. What would typically be a mutually-sympatico sales call is now highly scrutinized. Trust has decreased, competition is rising, and service expectations are on par with the consumer sector. 

As a result, many commercial organizations rethink their approach and put the customer at the front and center. The consumerization of healthcare has been a hot topic of debate for some years, but no time in history has the discussion been more meaningful than it is right now. 

In November 2021, we hosted a panel discussion on Customer Centricity and how technology enables these capabilities for life sciences and pharma organizations. 

Our panel welcomed:

  • Rahul Karkhanis, Commercial Specialist in Life Sciences at WhizAI
  • Karen Root, Director of Experience Strategy at Boehringer Ingelheim
  • Patricia Molina Dalmases, Associate Director, Global Marketing, Merck & Co.
  • Robin Kamen, Global Lead, Omnichannel & Customer Experience, Galderma
  • Mayank Agrawal, Director, Global Marketing, Oncology, Takeda

The webinar is available to view on-demand. Follow this link for instant access. Of course, we know you’re busy, so we’ve pulled a few key points out of the discussion to give you a taste of the insights you’ll discover. 

Timing is Everything. Content is Everything Else.

In recent years, new challenges have disrupted pharma, life sciences, and the healthcare sector. The buying process is more complicated; manufacturers face a lot of pricing pressure and fierce competition across all focus areas. 

But perhaps the biggest challenge we face is dealing with the end customer—in this case, the physician. They are overburdened, have less time for sales reps, are more digitally savvy, and desire to provide the best possible experience for their customer, i.e., the patient. 

As a result, the paradigm shifted. Instead of simply selling the product, pharma companies now prefer to partner with the provider to provide them with services and products tailored to their needs. The pandemic accelerated this shift, resulting in a pressing need to improve an organization’s ability to engage the right customer at the right time with the right content.

Here’s what our panel had to say.

Traditional vs. Agile & Digital

We’ve seen in the pandemic essentially a collision course between the traditional pharma approach and the need to be digital and agile. 

As most health care services moved to virtual platforms and telehealth, healthcare startups rode the tide and built their strategies and go-to-market approaches based on these trends. 

“Patient centricity must be incorporated into our strategies so we can understand the experience and connect it to opportunity,” says Patricia Molina Dalmases @Merck #patientcentricity #customercentricitypanel @whizdotai Click to Tweet

This amplified the need for established players to get on board and build customer-centricity into their strategies. Although, this needs implementations at scale and is not something that can be done halfway. Finding the right ways to approach this in a highly regulated industry is a monumental task, and the ultimate vision has not yet been fully realized. 

Mayank Agrawal talked about some of the changes that he found to be helpful, diving into the customer journey itself and how it has shifted: 

“Whereas in the past, the buying journey was reactive, well-defined, and rep-led, we are moving towards micro-segment-based journeys that require highly detailed persona mapping, predictive insights, and analytics to optimize the content based on the micro-segment customer needs. Today’s customer wants to consume information how they want it and when they want it. Customization at that level will help us realize that paradigm shift.”

Mayank’s four must-haves for a customer-centric omnichannel brand plan:

  1. Customer segmentation
  2. Persona mapping
  3. Traditional customer journey maps
  4. Campaign journey map
“Today’s customer wants to consume information how they want it and when they want it. Customization at that level will help us realize that paradigm shift,” says Mayank Agrawal @TakedaPharma #customercentricitypanel @whizdotai Click to Tweet

Humans are Still Important

Wrapping up his thoughts, Mayank suggests that if technology could deliver on these dynamic needs more precisely, it may replace face-to-face interactions. Let’s not forget that reps are still integral to building trust and rapport. 

No matter how well your CRM delivers insights and interprets data signals, the human touch should remain a critical factor alongside digital channels. We’re at a stage with technology, where to achieve the digital vision fully, we will require a lot of machine learning, but we will also need human intervention. 

Karen Root adds- that there is a tendency to use the customer experience approach to justify the planning processes. We think we know our customers, so we’re going to map this out versus utilizing the process actually to listen. It’s not just about having the content at the ready; it’s about the intelligence of ensuring we’re having a dynamic conversation with the customer. 

“As we evolve the technology and drive to omnichannel, we need to be listening at a different level,” says Karen Root of @Boehringer_AH #customercentricitypanel @whizdotai Click to Tweet

Karen’s takeaways:

  • Meet your customers where they are
  • Gain intelligence in a closed-loop system
  • AI and machine learning will be keys
  • Digitization will advance the entire process
  • Don’t stop listening. Sales reps are the key to those insights, and how we incorporate that feedback into our systems will move us forward.

Choosing the Right Technology for Customer Centricity

Among the most significant challenges in choosing technology is selecting solutions that are easily adopted and adapted across large international organizations. Small advances are being made, but sweeping change is still out of reach. 

With many technologies to choose from and significant skills disparity across markets, it is vital to adopt simple, practical solutions and deliver results you can measure against your critical KPIs. There is no standardization, no benchmark to work with, and there is certainly no one-size-fits-all approach. 

“Change management is required for everything. The most successful digital teams are the ones that understand that from the beginning and get their arms around it early,” says Robin Kamen @galderma #customercentricitypanel @whizdotai Click to Tweet

The panel discussion was a fascinating and illuminating debate on the state of customer-centricity, the underlying technology, and the guiding principle that must be front and center in any digital strategy: it’s still all about the people.

Watch our webinar on Customer Centricity and Digital Experiences Redefining Pharma.

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