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Unleashing your Omnichannel confidence: Transforming pharma customer engagement

The Critical Role of Customer Engagement

Authored by Amelia Hutchins, Marketing Communications Director, Uptake for PME Impactful Innovation Blog.

In this article for Pharma Market Europe, Amelia Hutchins, explains the importance of delivering a true omnichannel experience to customers. She highlights that a lack of innovation can be a barrier to genuine engagement and that automation and machine learning are necessary to serve interconnected, personalised experiences.

Qualitative insights and data patterns should inform decisions at both a broad and individual level. Amelia suggests that companies can learn from other industries to achieve true omnichannel, and it’s essential to listen to customers and continuously check the approach to ensure total customer-centricity. Finally, she suggests breaking the challenge down into manageable, actionable pieces and starting with a small “test and learn” exercise with customer management at its heart.

Read below or click to access the published version

Why a successful leap from Multichannel to Omnichannel is within your grasp

The ambition of Omnichannel is to deliver the right message (for the customer), at the right time (for the customer), using the right mix of channels (for the customer).

Pharma companies have wrestled with Omnichannel to the point that many in the industry are tired of even talking about the “O” word. Meanwhile, both within and outside of the pharma industry, we regularly witness the delivery of strategies purporting to be Omnichannel, which are in truth Multichannel with aspects of Omnichannel. You must have the confidence to jump in with both feet; when interactions are relevant, interconnected and insight-led, with the customer placed at the core of every decision, that’s Omnichannel in action.

Engage your Customers

Lack of innovation is often a barrier to genuine engagement.  The right technical infrastructure enables companies to make a connection with the customer across all channels. Automation and machine learning are required to serve interconnected, personalised experiences – and to anticipate what should come next in a customer journey. This is the Omnichannel sweet spot that Multichannel (even with aspects of Omnichannel) can never reach.

Be bold by getting beyond surface and vanity metrics. It is useful to know how many customers registered for an online seminar, but how many turned up, and of those, how many stayed for the duration, asked a question, opened the follow up email, clicked through to the related content, and so on? Data, like feedback, is a gift. Look for patterns which can inform decisions at a broad scale and seek to layer information on top of past engagements to inform actions an individual level.

Equally important are the qualitative insights. Ask customers what is valuable to them and find out why. What do they want to see more or less of? What would improve their experiences with your brand? As you are discovering what works for your customers, make sure this is reflected in the way you innovate the content and services you and your teams deliver in future. Using the data in this way will enrich and continuously improve your customer’s experience.

Learn from other Industries

It all started with a test aimed at engaging customers. In the early 2000s, my team and I rolled out personalisation to an unsuspecting Amazon UK audience. By today’s standards there’s nothing too impressive about that. But the start of the 21st century were the early days of eCommerce: the “mobile internet” was in its infancy; a significant proportion of the population remained unwilling to share payment details online; Amazon was still selling actual VHS cassettes.

As hard to believe as it sounds, there was a huge pushback from many people at Amazon who refused to believe that a robot could spit out content that was more relevant and appealing than beautifully crafted website copy.

The pilot test was an unqualified success. Manual content had a typical click-through rate of 4-8%, whereas the personalised version converted at way over 20%. This was a watershed moment for Amazon’s customer experience, and it rewrote the requirement for digital content: make it automated, dynamic, responsive, relevant. And of course, it didn’t stop there. Amazon’s personal, relevant experience now carries across every touchpoint, from website, to app, to live chat, to call centre, to connected TV.

Yes, this is eCommerce – a vastly different proposition to Pharma. But examples of breaking new ground and demonstrating exceptional levels of innovation and customer-centricity can be found in a multitude of industries. Think of recent advances in a heavily regulated financial sector where we can all manage our accounts online; where our online interactions and preferences are recognised in other channels, like call centres and live chats; where we approve our website payments via our banking app.

How Achievable Is Omnichannel in Pharma?

If companies in other industries have literally invented pathways to Omnichannel, it’s up to us in Pharma to break down the remaining barriers. There aren’t many industries left where we can do something truly transformational and customer-centric using approaches that have been tried and tested.

Contrary to widely held belief, true Omnichannel is achievable in Pharma; we have a clear and exciting opportunity to engage customers more successfully, and the key lies in a change of outlook. Companies can be unintentionally self-serving and assumptive about what they would like their customers to hear, but success can be transformed by listening to customers, continuously checking the approach to ensure total customer-centricity, and using technology to deliver relevance and value.

Omnichannel is within your grasp. If a perceived lack of time and headspace is making it difficult to plan effectively, break the challenge down into manageable, actionable pieces. Omnichannel perfection does not happen overnight, or with one big bang launch. As with the Amazon example, sometimes it starts with a small test and learn exercise with customer engagement at its heart.

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