Customer Centricity for Healthcare! What is it all about?

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TTM associates Article


In the modern selling environment, buyers are becoming more sophisticated and demanding while competition continues to escalate. Higher expectations from customers and increasingly complex ecosystems affecting customer decision making. Identifying the right promotional investments is becoming more difficult for companies, creating additional pressure on the current Healthcare business-model.

Customer Centricity is the approach of centring Commercial and Medical engagement around the needs of the customer and not the needs of the brand. This can be achieved by implementing changes in people, redesigning processes and workforce enabling through leading technologies. The benefits will vary across various functions, like financial, strategy and operations as they will ultimately increase the quality of engagement.


How can we achieve Customer Centricity?

“Sales force” transformation reveals a deep understanding of customers buying preferences to achieve customer loyalty. This includes customer needs and motivations, their process to purchase and preferences as well as potential budget for spent. In order maximize their sales and their marketing investments, forward-thinking companies are transforming their sales forces to address these challenges and drive profitable organizational growth.


01. Gathering Customer insights 

Customer insights provide the knowledge for developing a highly effective sales strategy. However, in many occasions, companies fail to develop the necessary customer insights required to segment the market in a meaningful way or to create value propositions that will clearly differentiate them from competitors.

Insights into customer behaviour are essential in predicting customers’ actions in an increasingly complex market. In Healthcare, teams in Commercial Development, Medical and Market Access should first identify a product that will not only appeal to stakeholders, but also make it through clinical trials. Then they need to define what makes their product unique and gather market data to estimate their customers’ willingness to pay for that product. All these steps are critical in order to ensure that the company is investing in products and Go-to-Market strategies that will pay off. In other cases, healthcare organizations need to understand how to extend their mature products’ lives so that they continue to earn for the company. This requires a deep understanding of customers’ changing attitudes, belief systems, barriers and communication preferences.

When someone is choosing a product among several options, the decision isn’t just about product features. Customers have a much broader interaction with the offerings that are available to solve a problem or meet a customer need. By providing insights, the customer-centric approach can help healthcare companies identify tangible ways to create and direct a customer experience.

Most leaders in the Healthcare sector would say that sales reps drive the customer experience. But customer experience is also affected by medical programs, web sites, traditional and Internet advertising and social media. Most healthcare companies don’t take into serious consideration the holistic interaction that customers have with the company. As a result, customer experiences may be inconsistent and suboptimal.


02. Mapping the Customer Journey

Following customer’s journey, allows companies to identify the various touch points where customer connect with a company. These touch-points can be the media, journals, the Internet, friends and doctors. Mapping the customer journey enables the observation of customer’s habits and everyday challenges that lead to a matrix of factors to articulate. This process may also reveal customer needs that are left unfulfilled or not expressed as well as relevant insights to make companies understand and appreciate the daily routine of the customer. Thus, healthcare companies remain committed and aligned to the customers’ evolving needs and try to improve patients’ health outcomes. Following this approach, companies will be able to locate activities that can initiate redesign, improvement, innovation and differentiation.


03. Stakeholders engagement 

Creating value in healthcare is about aligning stakeholder objectives. In the past, the healthcare sales model focused on convincing doctors to prescribe patients a drug. Today, multiple stakeholders are involved in the patient’s treatment decision. As a result, a company needs to properly identify the various stakeholders that are involved both in its emotional strategy and in the patient experience design. A stakeholder who interacts directly with the company has different needs, compared with one who interacts with the stakeholders. There is a need to understand different customers and design customer-interfacing processes that create the desired experiences.
Healthcare companies need to work on evolving their Relationship with Payers (Government, Private, Patients) than just treating payers strictly as customers. Presenting promotional information on products and adding Value only within the transaction is not enough. The enhanced relationship with Payers requires a shared responsibility for driving improved health with multiple touch points and information exchange, partnerships around data and evidence, which will lead to a greater bilateral understanding of disease burden and enhanced patient focus and outcomes.


04. Field Sales force effectiveness

The impact of the current field force is becoming less efficient, as a custom approach is still lacking and customer focus is still missing due to the absence of attitudinal segmentation. Sales reps need to update their skills in order to match customer needs. From product information experts, sales reps are evolving into multidimensional customer solution providers. The future sales rep will be expected to handle a much larger and more diverse customer base becoming a key partner to patients, prescribers and payers. He/she must be able to seamlessly switch functional hats and operate across various engagement channels. This results in a significant change in the structure of the commercial and medical department. Medical affairs, market access and marketing are all influencing the field force, visiting the physician and resulting in a significant increase of customer facing roles.

Today’s representatives need to understand the agendas of local health economies and, at the same time, articulate a strong value proposition to a diverse range of stakeholders.
The answer to the above is to develop an integrated engagement plan focused on customer experience.

A good start will be:

  • • Listening to social media to understand the relevant content for their brand/company
  • • Differentiating content for different channels
  • • Testing & Learning: constant monitoring and revisiting their plans



05. Multichannel and digital health integration

“At least 40% of all businesses will die in the next 10 years if they don’t figure out how to change their entire company to accommodate new technologies” – John Chambers, Executive Chairman, Cisco System

The convenience of accessing relevant information to a digitally savvy medical practitioner outside working hours and, at the same time, deal easily with digital support, allows for an environment that is engaging, inspires transparency and trustworthiness. This improved experience is provided by engaging the right customer with the right message and content, through the right channels and format at the right time. For companies born in this “empowered-customer” era, such an engagement is part of the normal way of doing business. For companies with a longer heritage in more traditional sales and marketing models, such as pharmaceutical companies, adapting to this new environment represents a challenge. Healthcare companies need to leverage their understanding on how to personalise their customer interactions through digital channels, know when and where to deploy social media and newer digital channels in order to connect with stakeholders, improve brand awareness and add further customer touch-points.

Healthcare companies can utilize these channels to evolve from a tactic-led mind-set into a customer-led mind-set. This can be achieved by designing a customer experience framework that aligns tactics to customer needs and matching promotional channels to customer preferences. Also, coordinating multichannel promotions across customer with proper field force alignment and react in real time. All these can be achieved by investing in a system that will enable real-time reaction to customer needs.  

Final Thoughts

In a bid to overcome stubborn industry-wide challenges, improve external perceptions and build stronger relationships with customers, healthcare companies are seeking radical changes to age-old, traditional processes. Customer experience is simply about always being able to offer the customer the next best action or the next best offer for every situation or channel. Increased demand, decreased supply, heightened needs and greater cost, underscores the pressure that healthcare companies need to make a wise investment in their customer-interfacing teams. In general, healthcare companies might need to re-define their overall business model.

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TTM associates has been a strategic partner in Healthcare for years and has developed solutions enabling Life Sciences to reshape, reconstruct, and redeploy their resources to better serve the patient. Discover more at our Embedding Patient Intimacy brochure , and our Commercial Solutions for the Healthcare Industry.