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The CX Cure for Pharma’s Industry Ailments

Pharma Industry and Customer Experience: A Hesitant Dance

The concept of customer-centricity revolutionizing today’s business landscape is widely recognized. From the product-focused enterprises of the previous century to today’s experience-driven giants like Apple, Amazon, and Disney, the shift towards prioritizing customer experience (CX) has reshaped entire industries.

The pharmaceutical industry, however, is taking a more cautious approach to CX. Many pharma companies are dipping their toes in the water, but their efforts are often siloed, lack strong leadership support, and don’t have clear ways to measure success. It’s fair to say there aren’t any pharma rockstars in the CX world yet.

Pharma’s journey into CX is fraught with unique challenges. Identifying the “customer” in a field with a complex web of stakeholders—ranging from healthcare providers and patients to payers and regulatory bodies—presents a formidable task. Moreover, ethical considerations loom large, especially in employing strategies like brand loyalty, which must always yield to the paramount interest of patient well-being. To truly harness the power of CX, the pharmaceutical industry must embark on a comprehensive overhaul. This entails redefining CX to fit its unique context, refining metrics for success, and adopting implementation strategies that can effectively turn CX into a driver of transformative success.

The Change Around the Corner

Sure, pharma might be fashionably late to the CX party, but it’s not too late to join the fun. A growing number of companies are realizing that CX isn’t just a box to tick – it’s a strategic weapon that can unlock new business value.

What’s fueling this excitement? Look no further than the success stories in neighboring industries. In my conversations with pharma leaders, they’re much more interested in how we’ve helped MedTech and lab companies than what other pharma giants are doing. It seems they’re looking beyond the industry for inspiration, not just playing catch-up with competitors.

There’s another factor pushing pharma towards CX: the struggle to connect with doctors. With some healthcare systems shutting out pharma reps entirely, it’s clear the current approach isn’t working. CX offers a powerful tool to build better, more collaborative relationships with healthcare professionals, creating shared value for both sides.

A Simple Roadmap 

When it comes to CX, starting small and building momentum is often the best approach. This “crawl-walk-run” strategy helps minimize risk, keeps everyone engaged with early wins, and most importantly for pharma companies, it encourages continuous improvement.  It’s not about a one-time fix, it’s about a journey with clear milestones. 

Stage 1: Experimental 
  • Start with simple surveys – A good first step is to use a simple survey, like the Net Promoter Score (NPS). This can help you start gathering feedback, build a customer-focused mindset in your company, and get support from top management. 
  • Map out your customer journey – Mapping the customer’s journey helps you see everything from the customer’s point of view – what they need, how they interact with your business, how they feel, and what they think about it all. This map is a great tool to figure out what you’re doing well and what needs to be better. 
  • Train your team in research and CX – It’s important to know the right and wrong ways to do customer research. This ensures you gather information correctly and fairly. But collecting data is just the start. A good grasp of data analysis is crucial to get real value from the information you collect. And last, but not least – everyone in your organisations should understand why customers matter so much and see how their work helps in this. 

Stage 2: Established 
  • Set-up a VOC governance model – This model is all about setting up clear roles and responsibilities for everyone involved in your Customer Experience (CX) efforts. You might use something like a RACI matrix, which helps everyone know who is responsible for what, keeps things organized, and helps solve any disagreements. 
  • Run deep-dive analytics – Deep-dive analytics is all about looking closely at what customers are saying, feeling, and doing. This involves gathering and examining feedback from customers, data from your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system, website statistics, social media comments, call center conversations, and more. By using different tools and methods, you can get a complete picture of how customers act, what they like, and how they interact with your business. 
  • Implement a customer feedback management platform – A powerful Customer Feedback Management (CFM) tool is a key part of a strong Voice of the Customer (VoC) program. These tools help you gather, manage, and understand feedback from different places, all in real time. They provide a way for customers to share their thoughts and for your business to quickly see, track, and respond to them. 

Stage 3: Proficient
  • Estimate impact – Understanding the impact of your customer experience (CX) initiatives involves two key steps: identifying what makes customers satisfied and seeing how this satisfaction affects your business’s key performance indicators (KPIs). Combining these insights helps you see how changes based on customer feedback impact both customer happiness and your financial performance. 
  • Predictive analytics and proactive outreach – Sometimes, customers don’t speak up when they’re unhappy. They might not talk to support teams, account managers, or answer surveys. This silence can be a warning sign that they might stop doing business with you. This is where predictive analytics comes in. It uses AI and other advanced methods to figure out how happy your customers are, why they might be unhappy, and what you can do about it. By understanding these things, you can take steps that are more likely to make your customers happy and keep them with you. 
  • Knowledge-sharing – Knowledge sharing can happen in different ways. It can be as simple as monthly emails that tell everyone about the latest findings and ideas. Or it can be more organized, like regular meetings where team members share their experiences. Another idea is to have people spend some time in jobs where they deal directly with customers. This can give them a real feel for what customers and front-line employees go through. 

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