Optimizing the Customer Experience Leads to Improved Bottom Line and Clearer Compliance

Customer centricity is what we have come to expect from all of our commercial relationships. Whether the bar has been set by Zappos or Amazon, the notion of a flawless customer experience has penetrated the corporate psyche. Customers are no longer willing to choose between product quality, speed of delivery, and price. Simply put, they want it all.

The biopharma ecosystem of relationships is shifting. The influence and roles of the payor, the patient, the healthcare provider, and even key suppliers, are being redefined as the industry adjusts to tectonic shifts, including The Affordable Care Act, rapid advances in genetics and precision medicine, new forms of competition, an ever-changing regulatory landscape, and a patient community that readily turns to the Internet for their healthcare learning. With so many moving parts to consider, how do medical device and biopharma companies respond to this new environment?

One key strategy is to clearly define the various customer segments and then understand how their expectations may or may not align with your business needs. Sounds simple, but it’s not, especially for the organizations that discover, develop and market medical devices, biologics and pharmaceuticals.

In considering this strategy, one of the largest questions is how you define the term “customer”. Is it the payor upon whom you depend for inclusion on their formularies and plans? Is it the patient who you need to participate in developmental processes to determine the efficacy of new treatments AND who is the ultimate consumer of your product? Is it the healthcare provider – either the individual, practice or institution – who, while significantly reducing their access to your reps, also want all the necessary product information fully transparent via the web. These are also the same healthcare providers that drive the prescription engine and create the income streams needed to fund research and keep your business profitable.

The reality is that all of the definitions above describe the customers of medical device and biopharma companies. How do you come to understand the intricacies of each these customer segment relationships? Where does the customer engagement begin and end? Who is responsible for it? First, each of these customer groups needs to be assessed separately, even though the process and tools to conduct the analysis may be the same or similar. During this process, the lens needs to be as wide as possible to capture the end-to-end experience. Next, as a business, you can examine and understand how, when and how often each of the many business functions touch the customer. For example, one healthcare provider could have touch points with multiple functions: R&D, sales & marketing, supply chain, and finance — all with the same medical device or biopharma company. By gathering quantitative data throughout the customer journey and layering in the qualitative voice of the customer, you may find that while one team is exceeding customer expectations, another is disappointing. How is your brand being perceived at the end of the customer engagement? Are you over-achieving and perhaps over-investing resources in one set of interactions while letting others slide? Are the interactions coordinated or are there times in the customer journey when mixed messages are being delivered or creating compliance exposure? How do you ensure regulatory compliance across all customer touch points?

At the end of this customer journey analysis, you may determine that your customer engagement operating model is not serving you well. The business may not be leveraging quality opportunities to grow the relationship and your customer’s satisfaction and their willingness to support your brand may be less than desirable.

The good news is that armed with this data you are now in a position to prioritize critical customer interactions, restructure the overall customer engagement process, and define and execute target improvements. You are left well positioned to save resources, improve efficiencies, reduce compliance exposure, grow sales, and most importantly, enhance the customer experience.