Sales TeamA personalized customer experience: That’s what the digital age promises to deliver. By using smartphones, iPads, laptops and other digital devices, health-care professionals (HCPs) can search, find and obtain customized content on just about any topic, when they want it. This more efficient way to obtain information is changing how HCPs make decisions. And that’s why pharmaceutical companies are so interested developing digital capabilities.

Achieving this goal isn’t easy, especially for an industry that relies on sales forces as the dominant promotion channel. But, if done correctly, the sales force can become the focal point for using digital channels to deliver the personalized customer experience. With the introduction of iPad SFA tools, a two-way connection between the sales force and marketing is now possible. Specifically, marketing can tell the sales force how each physician has responded to prior marketing tactics and which tactics and messages are planned for each physician over the next three months. Additionally, sales reps will be able to provide marketing with recommendations on tactics and messages that should be targeted to the HCP based upon their latest office visit. Enabling marketing and sales to work synergistically, can significantly improve the customer experience.

Sound far-fetched? Too futuristic? Would it surprise you to know that we are helping companies accomplish this goal today?

There are five key capabilities needed to begin this journey:

1. Upgraded Technology Infrastructure

A foundational element to delivering an optimal customer experience is capturing and integrating the customer preference data at the HCP level from both marketing and sales channels. A key element to the solution is the data quality process that ensures data accuracy. The data needs to be stored in a customer database with a tool set that enables both reporting and analytics but also campaign planning and delivery.

2. Build Customer Analytics

Customer analytics focus on understanding customer behavior over time, specifically capturing insight into customer engagement preferences—when does the HCP engage, through what channel and what was their interest in which message. These models are straightforward to develop, and looking at customer behavior longitudinally can be a real eye-opener.

3. Develop Customer Promotion Strategy

Customer promotion strategy is about proactively designing the customer experience over a six- to 12-month period. This is accomplished by delivering integrated marketing and sales tactics to the HCP based upon the HCP’s preferences. Note that a key input into this process is the customer analytics mentioned above.

4. Promotion Deployment and Optimization

After building the technology infrastructure, conducting the customer analyses and developing the customer promotion strategy, it all comes down to successfully deploying that campaign in the marketplace. This requires not only excellent coordination within the pharmaceutical company but also across the third-party companies that are supporting the promotion campaign. The deployment plan successfully translates the promotion strategy into a tactical plan, which is then deployed via a campaign management tool and sales call plan process. Once deployed, new HCP preference information will be collected and can be used to re-optimize the campaign via trigger promotion activity.

5. Building Organizational Capabilities

As marketing and sales become better integrated, existing processes and approaches will need to change. Sales reps will now have more information about the HCPs in their territory and will need training on how to successfully use that information. Marketing will shift from a tactical approach to a customer campaign approach, which will require training on how to use the new tools to improve performance. IT will need training on the new data sources it will be collecting and integrating, and analytics will need to build new models and approaches to support customer campaign design.

The key point in achieving the goal of optimizing the customer experience is that to do so requires the development of new capabilities in addition to organizational evolution to fully leverage those new capabilities. A number of companies across the industry have started this journey. Where is your organization?

Topics: customer experience, Digital Channels, Pete Mehr, Pharmaceutical, Sales Force