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Pharma Marketers’ Blog: Reducing the Friction With a Customer Experience Strategy

Authored by Maxine Smith, Managing Director, Uptake for the PME Pharma Marketers’ Blog

In this article, Maxine highlights that the customer experience strategy needs to reflect the values of the company, the essence of the brand, and the expectations of the customers. Maxine also noted that there are several learnings we can take from more advanced customer experience-driven industries to progress customer experience strategy thinking and confidence.

Maxine suggests the focus should start with reality, learning and iterating, personalisation, channel choice and use, style and feel, and measurement. Maxine concludes by stating that we need to look to build human experiences because if our customer experience strategies are based around removing friction and frustration, then we are heading in the right direction.

Read below or click to access the published version

The need for a comprehensive customer experience strategy

I recently went to a Customer Experience Conference. Yes, a real-life event with over 300 people all discussing what’s next for customer experience PTP (post the pandemic). I suspect I may have been one of the only pharma and biotech industry participants in the room. However, the ideas and concepts being explored made me reflect on the need for a comprehensive customer experience strategy to be a critical part of our long-term brand and disease strategies.

A customer experience strategy is not the same as an omnichannel strategy. Although we rarely hear customer experience discussed without a mention of omnichannel in the same sentence, they are not the same. The customer experience strategy needs to reflect the values of the company, the essence of the brand and the expectations of the customers. It needs to wrap around all that we do and work across the end-to-end journey or experience. It will include employee empowerment, the engagement we create and the service we provide, as well as the channels where the interactions take place.

When we develop customer or patient experiences, we need to keep the phrase ‘frictionless experience’ front and centre in our minds to purchase, make a decision or reach a positive outcome. It is now the expectation. All healthcare customers are also consumers in the ‘real world’ and so bring the very same expectations into the workplace that they bring to their personal life. We need to know what these expectations are and what customers want from their interactions with us. Without this knowledge we can’t map the gap between the ‘current’ and ‘desired’ and build our customer experience plan to bridge this.

There are a number of learnings we can take from other, more advanced customer experience-driven industries to progress customer experience strategy thinking and confidence.

Start with reality – mapping out the reality of the current customer experience is critical. We can’t look to fix and improve the customer experience unless we know what is actually happening on an everyday basis. We need to know the friction points and understand which are the priority to tackle.

Learning and iterating – the question to ask here is ‘what doesn’t make sense to keep doing anymore?’ Considering all our tactics and initiatives from the viewpoint of the customer and asking which elements they would deprioritise is immensely valuable. If we were the customers interacting with these programmes, which ones would we see as too onerous, too complicated, too irrelevant? Which parts of the customer journey would make us frustrated or irritated with the company? If we feel like this, why would it be different for our customers? Using this human understanding, we can prune and strengthen the strategy.

Personalisation – personalisation is the core of a great customer experience. We need to define the overall customer experience we are aiming for, but then look at how this can be tailored to the individual to ensure the customer feels seen, acknowledged and valued. This goes beyond just adding his or her name onto the communication. We can look to weave what we know about customers into messages, engagement and experiences to foster intimacy.

Channel choice and use – think about the right breadth and mix of channels to allow customers a personal choice. Just adding more channels is not the answer. If we are digitising an already poor customer experience, putting it through different or more channels is not going to improve it!

Style and feel – consider if the customer experiences are inclusive across age, geography, background experience, training, confidence, healthcare system type etc. Ensure they represent the customer values as well as the company values. Look at how each interaction feels as part of the whole from start to finish, rather than a fragmented collection of connections.

Measurement – we may need to reflect and change the key performance indicators (KPIs) we are using and know which ones are meaningful and which are hygiene factors. We need to measure the value we are adding and the outcomes we are looking to achieve. Four key questions to help with this:

  1. What is the purpose of measuring the customer experience? We need to be able to measure the impact and the feelings, reactions and ‘soft value-based’ purpose eg, how do you measure if the customer feels happier?
  2. What metric to use as indicators? We need to really understand the challenges and advantages of the metrics we are using so we know what the data is telling us
  3. How should we measure? We need to consider many aspects including channel, frequency, target audience, tone of voice and more, and we need to know the benchmarks for our own industry.
  4. How to react to the response or information customers are providing? We need to plan to react and change based on what we learn and progress different types of actions: targeting, planning and monitoring and personalised actions.

The bottom line is that we need to look to build human experiences. We won’t get them right first time, but if our customer experience strategies are based around removing friction and frustration then we are heading in the right direction.

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