shutterstock_335320952.jpgRecently, I was looking to buy a car and had the chance to “experience” car buying at several car dealers and showrooms. I visited locations for several brands, including some premium brands. I also visited multiple showrooms for the same brands and, to my surprise, I learned that the car-buying experience can be independent of the price of the car or general “premiumness” of the brand. I had a very forgettable experience at the Audi showroom in which the salesman didn’t really try to get to know me. Instead, he simply gave me the car facts and started his sell.

I also learned that the car-buying experience isn’t necessarily consistent across multiple locations for the same brand. There were Toyota dealers who went straight to the sell, and then there were others who were just not interested in showing me a car.

I ended up buying my car from a salesman who used to work at the Apple store, and in our interaction, he showed that he cared about what I wanted and tried to help me find a solution.

It’s a coincidence that I was going through this experience as we were working through the recently published oncology customer experience study, where we found that product only accounts for one-third of the customer experience. Indeed, the study found that nearly two-thirds of the experience comes from engagement beyond the product—from reps, patient services, company reputation and virtual engagement. 


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If I asked you to tell me about a great experience that you’ve had, how likely are you to only talk about a good product? Oncology companies tend to put too much stock in the value of the product and not enough in the value of the experience. As the oncology market gets more competitive, companies need more than just the product to differentiate themselves. They need to deliver a unique, positive and well-orchestrated customer experience.  

The car industry is changing rapidly with the likes of Tesla bringing not just great products, but a different experience than traditional car buying. Similarly, the pharmaceutical industry is bringing innovations at a rapid pace. Will the customer experience follow? After all, pharmaceutical products can do more than just save you two seconds in going from 0 to 60; they can save you years of life, experiences and precious moments. Why shouldn’t the pharmaceutical experience, then, be more connected, more consistent, more positive and—quite simply—easier? 

I ended up buying a Honda Pilot from the former Apple employee, partly because it’s a great car and partly because the person on the other side of the table was someone who I could connect with—someone who listened to what I wanted in order to find the best possible car for me. 

Topics: customer experience, oncology, Apple, Sankalp Sethi