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Having worked in the Life Sciences sector for more than a decade in a variety of roles, recent years have seen a growing trend where Life Sciences organisations are building their strength in CX particularly in transforming the way organisations engage with customer at every step of the customer journey.

COVID-19 alone has had a seismic impact but there are several drivers for change.

  • Regulators are increasingly requiring companies to demonstrate how their products tackle unmet needs. COVID-19 has accelerated a move to decentralised clinical trials and increased the need for virtual and multi-channel healthcare professional (HCP) interactions.
  • Advances in personalized science and the increased focus in Cell and Gene therapies requires manufacturers to shift from Business-To-Business (B2B) to Business to Patient (B2P) engagement models focusing on the experience of the patient from identification to referral, treatment and post treatment monitoring.
  • As COVID-19 has changed the way HCPs interact with sales reps, many prescribers now prefer the virtual model, and there has been a huge uptick in the demand for digital sales aids. In the absence of regular face-to-face meetings, pharma needs another way to maintain relationships and provide their customers with what they want, when they want it.
CX: From theory to practice

The need for CX in pharma is already clear to many. Our Forrester research from a survey earlier this year identified 94% of more than 100 Life Sciences companies saying that improving CX is either just as much or more of a priority to their business now compared to pre-COVID – and 25% said their firms had a dedicated CX improvement team. More importantly, 78% said their organisation had the budget and resources needed to execute a CX strategy.

Of the respondents surveyed, 65% said their organisations used CX tools that speed up the sales process to reduce costs, 57% said they use it to sell additional products and services to existing customers, and 56% to acquire additional customers. Yet in this new pharma landscape, CX could offer so much more.

When used properly, CX provides an opportunity for pharma and/or biotech to:

  1. Understand the entire patient journey, not just the moment of drug administration. By understanding every sleepless night, bout of anxiety and painful episode from diagnosis onwards, organisations can map out and learn from the joined-up patient experience.
  2. Understand the healthcare providers’ journey, which is equally important. This can inform decisions around which metrics matter most to regulators and help sales teams target the right interventions, programmes and initiatives at the appropriate prescriber.

To deliver true success, CX needs to break free of sales and marketing siloes and become a cross-functional activity. This is something that has resonated within the sector and while Life Sciences might be running behind other sectors, it has definitely made material progress.

Being the change

Life Science companies must establish a comprehensive patient experience measurement capability in order to link their patient-focused investments to the patient experience and ultimately to business outcomes. In this way, companies can make informed decisions to better serve patients and find new growth opportunities.

To get started, companies should activate the vast volumes of data they hold on everything from patient behaviours and lived experience to HCP prescribing habits and information requests.

From here, CX experts can begin to understand where the real needs and opportunities of customers and consumers lie by creating personas, which can then be tested through structured, monitored interactions. As the engagement is perfected, templates for long-term relationships are built, and continually tested through a closed feedback loop. Several touchpoints will need to be optimised, and, depending on the point of the journey, might involve customer-centric teams, medical teams, legal and compliance teams. As such, cross-functional working will be essential.

It is a 360° process that builds deep personalisation of experiences – whether they be marketing, educational or clinical – by testing and tracking engagement across an interconnected ecosystem of product, platforms, tools, teams and people.

While Life Sciences may be late to the CX game, the concept is not new, but is vital for the industry to rise to the challenges of 21st century pharma. The yardstick to measure success is no longer just financial but one that includes the overall experience of therapy for patients across their care and treatment journey influencing clinical and quality of life outcomes.

Rohit Alimchandani

Head of Life Sciences, UK&I, Cognizant

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