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What if pharma engaged its customers like Netflix or Amazon?

By Lorraine Walters

Lorraine Walters

Customer expectations continue to rise and competition is fierce for any brand, pharma or not. One way to meet these expectations is through customer engagement, a phrase that emerged with the rise of eCommerce but now describes all interactions between a brand and an individual.

It’s an area where retail companies have led the way, so much so that 80% of their customers now consider the experience a company provides to be as important as its products and services. In pharma companies too, customer experience is of growing importance: a McKinsey study among 600 European and US immunologists showed that prescribers who were fully satisfied with their customer journey were twice as likely to prescribe that company’s product.

Netflix suggests what we watch, Uber knows our taxi preferences and Amazon suggests products based on our past purchases. Everyone’s Amazon and Netflix home pages look different because they are personalised to give us a smooth user experience and encourage us to watch or spend. As customer expectations rise, pharma too needs to give customers exactly the content they want, when they want it and on the channels they use.
So, what can pharma learn from other industries to support them on their voyage to better customer engagement through the experiences and content they provide and, ultimately, to greater sales and market share?

Data helps companies understand customers’ journeys as they actually experience them across multiple functions and channels. Retailers like Netflix are good at using this data to customise services to people with different needs, expectations and preferences to create a reliable and transparent customer experience. Netflix analyses the data it collects from its subscribers to recommend movies and TV shows based on its subscribers’ preferences. According to Netflix, this recommendation system accounts for over 80% of the content streamed on the platform.

As pharma customer engagement increasingly moves online, from virtual congresses to online detailing, companies are gathering an ever-increasing pool of healthcare professionals’ (HCP) data. Can they use this behavioural insight to create a better customer experience and even get it right every time?

Data can be used to generate a complete picture of the customer, allowing companies to streamline the customer experience and increase content engagement. The amount of commercial content on Veeva Vault, globally, has increased by 80% in the past six months. But is pharma creating the right content? Data on HCP habits and preferences can inform brand communications campaigns, with tailored, richer content HCPs will actually spend time looking at and engaging with, provided for channels where they are already active.

But it’s not just use of data that pharma can borrow from consumer brands. Amazon, for example, does everything possible to be customer-centric, such as letting other sellers use its platform or hosting competitor content from Netflix on its cloud devices. By focusing more on HCP customer needs, pharma could expand its offering beyond merely providing information that will support the use of its products and give HCPs more general subject matter expertise with non-branded content.

Pharma can build better relationships if it altruistically puts HCP needs and patient outcomes at the centre of its efforts rather than just promoting its brands. Already HCPs believe that pharma companies are changing what they communicate to include support that meets their most pressing needs. Most general practitioners, oncologists, cardiologists and immunologists surveyed by Accenture last year said that pharma support services are more helpful now than they were before the COVID-19 crisis.

Finally, consumers now want to see brand authenticity. Can pharma take inspiration from initiatives such as Always’ #LikeAGirl campaign which challenged the use of ‘Throw Like A Girl’ as an insult and turned ‘Like A Girl’ into a positive slogan, empowering adolescent girls to be self-confident and encouraging their participation in sport? Or Dove’s classic Campaign for Real Beauty (now known as the Dove Self-Esteem Project) which changed the public’s perception of Dove as soap company to a brand that authentically champions women’s empowerment and wants to change the conversation around beauty?

Pharma’s role in supporting HCPs during the COVID-19 pandemic has already led to an improved reputation among members of the public as well as HCPs. Pharma companies can capitalise on this development to establish trust and customer loyalty by being authentic in caring about their customer and their needs, providing a consistent experience and product, and delivering on brand promises.

Lorraine Walters is Practice Leader at Say Communications

Lorraine Walters is Practice Leader at Say Communications

6th January 2022

From: Marketing

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