HCP Self-Service Comes of Age through Pandemic: Top 5 Insights from recent strategy engagements
Richard Marcil, Chief Customer Officer at conversationHEALTH
It’s been a heavy couple of months of 2021 business planning with clients. It’s clear that we are nowhere near a new or next normal, and whatever it is, it’s still 6–12 months away. In the meantime, life sciences companies still need to engage their physicians and patients still need to be supported in their treatment journey. Here are the Top 5 observations local and global strategic discussions:
Tomorrow is today
In other facets of their lives, HCPs and patients have become digital first in thinking and action, and expect the same from life science companies. That means being able to engage and solve problems in real time, digitally and 24/7, weeknights and weekends. Healthcare providers and health authorities have done so quite successfully through COVID-19, the expectation is that large, innovative life sciences companies should do the same — if not better.
It can be automated
Reality is that the majority of HCP and patient engagements can be automated and handled by technology. In some respects, life sciences companies remain very analog in customer engagement, which is costly, not especially fast, and not especially scalable. Our experience with Medical Information and Commercial conversational agents is that customers successfully, compliantly engage and re-engage through conversational AI. Why wait a day to answer clinical questions; why not ship patients starter kits in real time; etc.
Think lifelong customer relationships
This is increasing the expectation of HCPs, who don’t care for organizational silos, church & state limitations, organizational complexity, etc. I have a relationship with Apple, not the technical specialist at the Apple Store or the customer service agent on the phone, for example. But that’s easier said than done in life sciences. First, that requires a complete rethinking of the customer experience. Second, that requires developing knowledge and memory of interactions with a customer — across the organization. And thirdly, that requires architecting or, often, re-architecting the customer relationship management technology. All of this is work. None of it is rocket science.
Humans and digital mix well together
Technology is not an either or. In fact, it’s most often an and. Conversational AI is powerful in fronting human interaction, often replacing repetitive low-value tasks. Great example of this is releasing Pharmacists and MDs often staffing Med Info call centres, and deploying them to higher-value clinical work; freeing sales reps of service calls in order to focus on higher-value education and engagement; and better supporting clinical trial patients for therapeutic compliance and trial efficiency. Commercial interactions are particularly interesting in that a conversational agent may support an initial request but a human will follow up and exceed customer expectations and impact.
This is about competitive advantage
He who wins the customer, wins the game. Self-service is about helping customers help themselves, in real time, efficiently and compliantly. And of course further interaction if and as needed. In 2021, that’s simply customer expectation. It’s also an increasingly powerful competitive differentiator. So how do you get there? People first thinking; operational building blocks; data-driven strategies; and continuous measurement and optimization. And lots of hard work behind everyone of these. Most exciting is that amount of data and insight generated by self-service, conversational AI and two-way asynchronous engagement with customers. Those who do this well and fast will grow engagement, share, margin and profitability faster than their peers — a good place to be.
Curious about what is involved in deploying conversational agents? Book a session with one of our conversational AI experts to learn how you can best leverage digital solutions to engage HCPs, Patients & Consumers.