Having long discussed a probable disruption to our accepted ways of working, Pharma is now very motivated to redesign customer engagement. Innovation to the existing customer engagement model will depend upon a flexible workforce and the use of new technologies, to reach and build relationships with an increasingly remote customer base, and certainly new rules of engagement.
Pharma will plan how to engage with customers in deep and meaningful ways whether face to face or remotely, or some combination of both. The new design will aim to achieve consistency in the quality of content and service across multiple touchpoints.
Omni channel is the modus operandi.
A customer-centric engagement model will be needed to build long term relationships successfully – making the right content, available in the right channel, to the right customer, at the right time. Four considerations when redesigning new ways of engaging a more remote customer base and building long term customer relationships are:
- New Market Conditions and Customer Preferences
- Brand Team Resource Allocation
- Upskilling for Remote Engagements
- Cross-Functional Virtual Team Ways of Working Collaboratively
New Market Conditions and Customer Preferences
The pandemic has resulted in fewer doctor visits, lower diagnosis and disease management, fewer scripts, and less out of pocket spending due to reduced employment and harder times. Some community clinics struggle to remain economically viable, and may even close, affecting where patients can go for treatment. We believe telemedicine will endure long after the crisis, driven by economics and necessity, but also patient preference. With the uptake of other digital channels for communication and connection, the recovery of Pharma representatives visiting Health Care Professionals (HCPs) in a face to face capacity is unlikely to return to previous levels.
Brand Team Resource Allocation
Just as we are experiencing a staged deconfinement process, so too will we see a staged return to full commercial operation. Finding the right balance between highly productive in-field representatives and a strong online presence will require considerable adjustment over time. Re-opening clinical practices with new mandatory disease control conditions, along with the nuances of each clinical practice or institution adds complexity. We need to empower the pharmaceutical in-field teams to be flexible and find new ways of effectively engaging our customers. New market research, including online behavioural analysis will help inform new segmentation dimensions, that in turn will inform resource allocation.
Previously used share-of-voice modelling is already expanding to include more digital channels and other shared resources such as Medical Science Liaisons [MSLs]. Ask [Actando about resource allocation scenario planning]. Marketing and Commercial Excellence team structure should be considered simultaneously, ensuring multi-channel marketing and remote customer engagement expertise is available to support the new model
Upskilling for Remote Engagement
Many pharma companies have used the time afforded during recent lockdowns to upskill representatives and the broader brand teams in scientific knowledge, selling skills and the use of virtual tools. We hear that in some markets many HCPs continued interactions with Pharma virtually, both out of necessity and by request. One source revealed that some Pharma representatives used food delivery companies such as Uber Eats to provide lunch to the clinic door, and then conducted webcasts to the lunchroom, to continue to educate HCPs during the lockdown. For some, this was a welcome relief during a very stressful time.
Different skills are required for a remote-only or hybrid engagement model vs. a traditional face to face only model. Pharma is working hard to leverage all the new skills they acquired during the crisis and build upon them to become more effective in the new mediums.
Click here to download our Best Practices for Remote Engagement:
Working Collaboratively across Cross-Functional Teams
Working remotely has always been part of any in-field manager and representative’s daily life; it is now up to the broader brand team to also learn how to best stay connected and up to date with a remote cross-functional team, including market access, marketing, medical, field managers, and representatives with whom we need to forge a consistent way of working and engaging customers. Investing in behavioural data and analytics will bring about more efficient monitoring and insights into digital channels and customer engagement approaches. As remote engagement increases, internal support and connectivity across the channels must also increase.
This is an exciting opportunity to operate differently without the risk that normally comes with big change – because everyone is learning as we go. Society will be re-inventing itself, forcing Pharma to innovate new ways of working with healthcare professionals and healthcare institutions to ensure patients get the best of care and even better outcomes. We must ensure the supply of critical drugs and treatments while safeguarding healthcare workers, patients and our team members.
If you are interested in our immersive learning solutions on remote engagement, contact Actando.
The Actando Consulting Team