The Future of Customer Engagement: Top 3 TACTics for 2022
Pharma and life sciences companies who want to win the attention of healthcare providers in 2022 will need to do a better job of connecting with them on their own terms. This has been a long-term trend, but we expect aspects of it to intensify in the coming year as a factor of raised expectations.
In other words, healthcare providers are starting to recognize that some companies provide them with more personalized attention and better access to the information they need – as opposed to only what the company wants to promote to them -- than others. We expect those who are doing better will be rewarded, while those who fail to change the way they do business will be more likely to be ignored.
Providers will get more impatient with impersonal interactions
An Accenture report released in 2021 found that HCPs still believe pharma companies should do more to understand their evolving needs. For example, given how dominant a story of COVID-19’s impact on providers has been for the past several years, it’s disturbing that 56% of providers said pharma companies are failing to understand the impact of the pandemic on them.
This as a symptom of a broader “you don’t really get me” pattern of frustration we see across many such HCP surveys.
On the other hand, the same Accenture study found nearly 9 in 10 HCPs acknowledge that some companies offer better engagement –and 41% said they’ve seen certain companies do “significantly” better. Further, 88% said they would be twice as likely to meet with companies that learned to duplicate those better patterns of engagement.
In practice, the leaders in personal interaction will continue to raise the bar, making this a continued opportunity for competitive differentiation. Expect it to make a bigger difference in 2022.
Pushy communication will prove increasingly ineffective
A perennial complaint among HCPs is that they receive too many spammy marketing emails. That hasn’t necessarily stopped organizations from ramping up email volume in an attempt to compensate for other setbacks, such as the increased difficulty scoring meetings with providers. This is counter-productive because it encourages providers to ignore most email, rendering this channel even less effective. SMS text messaging suffers some of the same problems when it is overused and abused.
Alternatives Tact promotes such as private chat, video messaging, and portals for on-demand access to information face a different challenge. As relatively novel channels, at least within the life sciences industry, they need to win adoption and acceptance. Participants on both sides of the communication need to become comfortable and proficient with new tools. But precisely because these are channels HCPs need to engage with voluntarily – and can withdraw from at any time -- they afford greater intimacy of communication and collaboration.
We see plenty of room for improvement in the mix of channels offered to HCPs in the years ahead, but we predict a flight from overloaded channels like email. Healthcare providers are making it clear that there has got to be a better way to engage with them.
Fortune will favor the prepared
“Fortune favors the prepared” is the motto of everyone who believes they can shape their success in life, and it should be the motto for everyone in the life sciences industry.
Perhaps no one was quite prepared for the disruptions brought by COVID-19, beginning in 2020. Still, by now we ought to be adapting to the fact that in-person meetings will be rare and precious, more now than ever –and that making the most of virtual meetings is essential. That means you can’t afford to go into any meeting unprepared.
As a commercial representative or medical liaison, do your homework. Knowing how much pressure providers are under, you owe it to them to be respectful of their time. Review past meeting notes, or, better yet, digests of those notes that highlight the important parts. Gather a 360 degree view of the data about providers and their clinical and business concerns. Seek automated systems that can consolidate and make sense of information that may have been recorded in multiple applications.
Yes, in some cases there may be regulatory obstacles like firewalls between commercial and medial affairs teams that prevent commercial representatives from prying into the details of medical affairs interactions with a provider. However, there is no rule against medical affairs teams benefitting from the insights of their commercial peers – medical affair scan and should go into every meeting with as complete a picture as possible.
Also, while I’m saying a lot here about meetings, an attentive life sciences organization should also be streamlining interactions that can take place between meetings or instead of meetings. That might include better anticipating research reports and other desirable content you can share based on your understanding of a provider’s information needs. It also includes making it as easy as possible for providers to get answers to their questions. Make it as easy as possible for them to navigate your organization and know whom to ask – or get their question redirected to the right person or team.
These non-meeting interactions can flow through an online portal, as discussed earlier, but you’ll also find that email works. Funny thing, but when you are providing content the provider actually wants, they are more likely to read your messages.
In short, 2022 is not a year for pushing harder but a year for working harder at paying closer attention to what HCPs value.
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