The last few years have transformed the pharma industry, be it the disruptive innovation in R&D, the Vaccine revolution, newer therapies, or the new commercial models. The changes that otherwise would have taken decades were implemented and accepted within just a couple of years. And while implementation has been hastened because of the Pandemic, now that we are at the tail end of it, we need to find solutions that are user-friendly, adaptable, and long-lasting, especially when it comes to customer engagement.
We as an industry have struggled in the last two years to find balance while engaging our customers. It didn’t help that our key customers, the HCPs, were one of the most affected groups during the pandemic. We had to go fully virtual, then hybrid, then back to face-to-face and now we are trying to find a balance that suits every customer’s preference, personalizing the experience for every stakeholder.
It will be interesting to see how the customer experience will evolve over the coming years, but here are a few things I think we need to consider while planning ahead.
According to an Accenture HCP engagement survey, 87% of HCPs prefer a hybrid mix of face-to-face and virtual engagement. Moving forward, HCPs want to interact with life sciences customer-facing teams through hybrid engagement personalized to their needs and preferences.
As we start truly embracing hybrid models, we will start to see the harmony between face-to-face and digital engagements. It's no longer going to be a virtual interaction as opposed to face-to-face meetings as it was pre-pandemic.
It's going to be an omnichannel engagement model that creates value at every touch point with an HCP, adapted to their preferences. Good examples of this are how face-to-face virtual calls have been successful in increasing time spent with HCPs or how a rep-triggered email has better open rates.
The emerging life sciences ecosystem is becoming more and more patient-centric. Healthcare professionals are actively seeking content and learning that will help them improve patient outcomes. This requires a significant shift in the way pharma customer-facing teams interact with HCPs.
Understanding what patients need and want is essential, it entails keeping patients at the forefront and center of all decisions, as well as involving them every step of the way. Whilst in the past, it was difficult to achieve true patient-centricity, we now have access to data and opportunities to improve the patient's experience significantly.
Pharma companies must understand patients' comprehensive human experience in order to fully grasp what patient support and engagement entails. While embracing diversity and inclusion in research and clinical trials is a good first step, I believe that 2023 will bring about improvement in embracing pharma’s digital and commercial future for better patient outcomes.
And those who cannot deepen and enhance this new collaboration will find themselves away from the action, in a healthcare system that's increasingly driven by empowered and informed patients and healthcare providers.
It goes without saying, as an industry we need to work on our user experience models, be it our customers or our customer-facing teams. We need better systems of engagement, better tools, and better adoption when it comes to creating engaging customer experiences.
Moving forward, all pharma customer interactions need to focus on delivering a personalized experience, helping customers obtain the right content intelligently through the channel they prefer.
We need to understand and anticipate when, where, and how to deliver the right content through the right channels, allowing customer-facing teams to make better decisions and ensure that every HCP interaction creates a better user experience and engagement.
We need to do it on multiple fronts by making customer-facing teams into customer advocates equipped with insights and data-driven suggestions and creating a better omnichannel customer experience through better video meetings, F2F execution, and customer-friendly emails. Improving collaboration, unifying disparate channels, and utilizing different data sources will greatly help to create the simplified customer journey that HCPs want.
In conclusion, we have to keep improving technology and human experiences as we step into 2023. As we move away from response-driven strategies during the Pandemic to long terms solutions that build & nurture lasting relationships with brand building, we need to significantly improve key areas of pharma customer engagement around the customer-facing teams, HCPs, and patients.
David Logue and Mehrnaz Campbell in conversation about evolving roles and responsibilities of field teams
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Diversity, equity and inclusion are of course a strategic imperative for pharma companies as they compete to recruit top talent post-pandemic and post-Great Resignation.
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