The digital disruption in the life sciences industry in the last year has been unparalleled. The pandemic has not only accelerated digital adoption and digital access but has also created a need for personalization and curated customer experience for healthcare providers (HCP).
Before the pandemic, 64% of meetings with pharmaceutical sales representatives were conducted in person. This shifted to 65% of meetings becoming virtual during the pandemic, a phenomenon that was consistent across all therapeutic areas.
While we do see a bounce back in the number of face-to-face interactions, the majority of HCPs still prefer a mix of in-person and virtual interactions with sales representatives, and this sentiment is projected to sustain in the years ahead.
With a focus on hybrid engagement and opportunities that come with increased digital access, newer models of engagement are crucial in the new normal. For pharma companies, this translates into reshaping the life sciences commercial models and rethink its customer-facing strategy for the field teams.
A lot of current frustrations of HCPs with Life Sciences companies are due to a lack of value in the interactions that are happening. The HCPs now have even less time due to the pandemic and are adapted to digital tools. Because their time is at a premium, they expect a personalized and contextual interaction or no interaction at all.
As our HCP engagement guide notes,” The number of physicians reporting they had a “no access rule” rose from 22.9 percent to 36.5 percent between 2010 (when the rule was signed into law) and 2016(according to the report) and no access was the rule for more than 50 percent of physicians employed by hospitals and health systems.”
For the HCPs to engage with a brand, they not only need better content and communication, but also a deeper understanding of the customer’s day-to-day life.
In a multi-channel setup, companies use all channels available to target their consumers. But this targeting and the communication that goes with it is not consistent across the board. In short, you end up risking bombarding your customers across all channels, creating more noise than meaningful connections. Without a seamless experience, you create confusion rather than clarity. Internally the insights across marketing, field teams, and other engagement platforms are not utilized in the engagement process, creating multiple silos.
For example, an HCP might end up receiving a meeting request from a field rep, an online seminar invite, and multiple promotional messages through marketing campaigns, all in the same week, without any logical order or intent. It also does not take HCP’s preferred content or channel into account, further decreasing the likelihood of engagement. This makes the HCPs more likely to treat your messages as spam. In fact, a Mckinsey study shows 18 percent of HCPs already do not want to receive emails from pharma brands at all.
In an omnichannel communication model, you curate a seamless experience for your customer across multiple channels. Here you optimize your content according to the channel, device, as well as the interest of your consumer, making the entire effort more cohesive and optimized. To have the best chance of success, it is also important to determine how best to empower the field force to orchestrate many of the touchpoints of this approach. This is done using tools to map your customer’s journey, their interests, behaviour, and past interaction data to create a seamless 360 view. That makes it easier to pinpoint, the next best action for a conversion to your field force or commercial team.
In this scenario, an HCP may receive a field visit in which they express an interest in a particular study. Which is noted by the field rep and entered in the CRM marking the HCP’s interests. This HCP then receives emails about their field of interest and invitations to relevant events, creating a customer journey that gives HCPs additional value from every message they receive.
Going forward, it is also crucial that HCPs have ways to connect with pharma field teams whenever they need to with the ability to collaborate to solve specific problems. It could be reaching out to Medical Science Liaison (MSL) to address clarifying questions or get personalized content from Reps or MSL depending on their requirements. The focus needs to shift from a push-based promotion to a pull-based engagement that creates value for the HCP. The frictionless experience for HCPs is what will hold the keys to driving higher interactions and engagement.
A connected omnichannel system will also empower the field reps to coordinate between MSLs, Key Account Managers, and Marketing Teams who are communicating with the same HCP via other channels. The end goal will be to create a one-stop-shop for all your customers and one system of record for all your commercial teams.
It is clear that now life sciences companies need to supplement traditional customer engagement strategies with timely, personalized, and consistent messaging delivered via convenient and preferred channels, to stay relevant. We know that the face-to-face model will never become obsolete, but it will end up becoming one part of the new hybrid work model. This critical shift to hybrid needs to be addressed by pharma companies to ensure that they are equipped to succeed in these newer models of engagement.
Right now, everyone has the chance to innovate their commercial models to gain a deeper understanding of their customers and build a relationship with substance. Perfecting omnichannel customer engagement will be the major differentiator down the line between industry leaders and others. The first movers will lead this trend and will be ahead of the curve for a long time.
Learn more about building a winning omnichannel strategy in our, “The HCP Engagement Guide for Commercial Teams”
David Logue and Mehrnaz Campbell in conversation about evolving roles and responsibilities of field teams
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