Kantar Health Blog

Is pharma missing the point of customer experience?

by Mark Sales | Jun 11, 2015
Mark Sales

If you are still focused on whether a customer experience program will bring value to your organization, you are missing the point.

I am paraphrasing one of the non-pharma presenters (Andrew Archibald of Travelodge Hotels) at the recent Customer Experience in Health Summit in London. It was a theme of the day, presenters lined up from energy suppliers, banks, a caravan club and a hotel chain to talk through how their raison d’être either always had been or was evolving to deliver a better customer experience – whether it be the energy giant EDF’s business-to-business customers or the distinctly business-to-consumer caravan owners its club represented. Yet pharma did what it always does and came out with comments like, “We have to convince senior management there is ROI in driving customer experience” or “The best way to push this in pharma is to tell the CEO our competitors are doing it.”

Really? Is this how we think? The presenter—echoed many of non-pharma participants—suggested pharma look at one of the hundreds of studies linking increased customer experience to all kinds of metrics, like sales, willingness to partner, employee engagement, etc., etc.

“What should we do?” everyone is asking. I say we need to harness the groundswell. Every conference organizer in healthcare is probably inviting you to a customer experience event or five, so we have obviously been telling them what our businesses need. We just don’t know where to start, but I have a couple of pointers to start us thinking.

  • Understand where you now and where you want to be, Do you want to be Amazon, (is this even possible with our stakeholder set?), focused on the experience of the individual and the masses and offering fast problem resolution and slick processes? Or do you need to take baby steps and get the measurement right first?
  • Who are your stakeholders? We spend all our money on promoting to physicians, but they are the hardest to get to for an unbiased view without paying huge amounts in surveys. On the other hand, patients are easier to access, but can they really give a view of your brand or company unless it’s a patient assistance program? And if you are a healthcare provider like the NHS in England, for example, it is all about patients, specifically patient outcomes.
  • At what level do you want to be collecting (and eventually managing) your customer experiences? Again, do we start by getting our organization to understand and believe that we can shape strategy effectively by getting behind customer experience, or do we want to go to the individual level (and all the compliance challenges that may bring) and really try to be Amazon? My suggestion would be somewhere in the middle for physicians, maybe at a territory level for reps to use as an additive or even predictive metric. If the focus is on patients, there’s no reason why we should not be interacting at an individual level – bearing in mind the challenges already presented.

These are just a few thoughts about not only how we can get a competitive advantage but also how we improve patient outcomes. It’s a long road, but one we must all travel on and learn from those who have gone before.

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