Pharma continues to evolve. Competition continues to increase. We are still navigating the turbulent waters of social media. And we are still trying to build trust with patients, health care providers and other stakeholders. We wrote last year about what we thought were the Commercial Excellence trends of the time. Let's take time out to reflect on what is emerging now and assess if we are still on course.
The Customer Experience
According to a recent webinar by eyeforpharma, some of the shining examples of innovation in marketing are now found in the generic pharma companies. These are examples of creating superior customer experiences, using creative digital tactics, and more scientific communication at a fraction of big-pharma budgets. When there is little to no clinical differentiation, a superior omnichannel customer experience is even more important to secure loyalty and adoption. Consumers and patients are insisting on low-cost therapies and high- touch services. This shift in customer needs will be disruptive to high-cost therapy models, as it will set new expectations.
The examples shared by eyeforpharma demonstrated that these companies were getting a lot of bang for their buck, and are on the trend we saw emerging last year:
"From patient journey mapping and the identification of opportunities to add value, close gaps and develop patient solutions, to developing a superior expansive patient experience; patient empowerment is real, and validated patient outcomes, supported by real-world data, is a critical success factor."
Digital and social marketing are still to be normalised in our industry with resources allocated appropriately across an integrated model. Meanwhile, customers are demanding ease of access to all information across therapies and across organisations. Never before has the population at large been so powerful – armed with information, able to change the course of business, or public opinion via social media, check prices, ask friends, and compare treatments without leaving home.
Pharma needs to play a larger role in ensuring stakeholders, HCPS, patients and their carers have accurate information at their fingertips; smart program design will be critical to avoid the financial strain that high-touch servicing could cause.
Workforce Transformation to Meet Changing Customer Needs
Transformation starts with changing the mindset of the leadership team.
Key Account Management [KAM] emerged as a key focus area in the early 2000’s to ensure access to customers and stakeholders, as access was diminishing in the traditional promotional model. At the core of the KAM vision was the desire to create long-lasting and resilient relationships with customers, a goal that seems well-aligned to today’s customer-centric and customer-experience focused world. [Pharmaexec, 2018]. KAM is not a selling model, but rather the way an organisation does business from the top down. Segmentation of accounts and allocation of resources follows a consistent language and methodology throughout the commercial operation.
In addition, we need to change some of the lingering perceptions of the marketing team. Digital content is not the same as paper or traditional face-to-face. eDetailers do not stand alone and detail themselves to HCPs. They are sales ‘aids’ - aids to the conversation between two humans. Understanding how the various marketing channels work together can enable a synergistic customer experience and is fundamental to transforming the way we interact with our customers. This means the customer engagement map is a must-have before designing an omnichannel experience that completes your marketing mix. It seems logical and has been said many times, yet great examples of this occurring are still hard to find.
The evolving role of the pharma rep remains a topic of discussion. HCPs want quality, relevant and timely information delivered by a scientifically literate person. However, they do not want this in isolation of the other channels they interact with and they do not always want to interact face to face during their busy clinic hours. The rep must have transparency of all activities to be able to decide what is next in driving loyalty and adoption. The rep needs to be available when it suits the customer – and that is sometimes out of hours. Reps, or a team of different types of representatives, working flexible hours will become normal. They will be empowered to curate content across channels.
New distribution models will be disruptive. We are waiting to see what effect Amazon will have as it enters our marketplace. eCommerce and direct to patient delivery by drones to remote locations could cut out a lot of middle players. Many processes are becoming automated. There seems to be a convergence of services in the marketplace, and many vendors are becoming multidisciplinary.
A digitally agile and collaborative business and the patient world produces new expectations and a need for new expertise in Commercial Excellence.
Cloud-Based Tools & Data Integrity
A vision for Industry 4.0 is emerging according to Robert Gaertner, Veeva 2018, as he blogged about emerging trends in quality management. The vision he shares is one of all resources connected: human, data, and physical machines, into one virtual network. This connectivity will be within and also beyond company walls. Sharing a single source of truth for product and batch-related data by using one technological platform is the way to go.
One source of truth is also a continuous challenge for the commercial operation. As we mobilise more third-party platforms, as more vendors collect more data, and as we mobilise digital channels ourselves, bringing all the data in-house into one ‘usable' data warehouse so that we can make sense of it and make informed decisions, seems to be the holy grail.
Cloud-based tools are becoming the ‘norm’ across many commercial activities, and this enables us to access up to date data more frequently, albeit these are still often fragmented views.
The push from our customers is for an omnichannel, omni-device, integrated experience from all healthcare players. This will drive our continuous transformation of marketing and sales and also our back-end operations to evolve. Leadership recognition of the need to change and their willingness to take risks to try new ways of working from the top down will determine our ability to make this happen. Resource optimisation across multiple channels will be critical. Sorting out the data and creating one source of truth that is accessible for decision-making will be empowering.Article Contributor: Melanie Brown, Managing Partner
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The Actando Consulting Team