Creating premium CX in life sciences: Four best practices

Sales & Marketing
4 best practices

The life sciences industry must adapt to a hybrid environment by enhancing its customer engagement approach. To achieve an effective customer engagement strategy, omnichannel engagement is essential.

The success of sales in life sciences depends on enabling and engaging the customer-facing teams, ultimately leading to an outstanding customer experience (CX) - the overall experience a customer has with a brand or business. It is about understanding customers’ desired outcomes and related conditions through joint accountability (what each involved party has to contribute to achieve the desired outcomes).

The primary objective for any life sciences business should be to deliver a premium CX through personalised service delivery, which can enhance customer loyalty and advocacy through an omnichannel approach - especially critical as nearly half of healthcare professionals (HCPs) expect few in-person rep engagements. A digital strategy that includes the right tools and actionable insights can guide teams to optimise engagement through a tailored approach via interactions like e-detailing, virtual meetings, and customer and patient resource centres. It also allows for continuous upskilling of customer-facing teams through a moulded-learning model - all while providing support to existing customers and their patients. 

Customer-facing engagement and CX in the life sciences

There’s a growing need in the life sciences industry for proper customer-facing team engagement, delivery tools, and strategies for growth, expansion, and revenue maximisation. Customer-facing teams (MSL, marketing, sales) play a vital role, especially as competition among enterprises is skyrocketing. Customer-facing team engagement and customer-facing team enablement are two critical pillars of positive business outcome delivery: 

  • Customer-facing team engagement pertains to the active and persuasive engagement of prospects - including HCPs, healthcare organisations (HCOs), payers, and their patients - solely to make conversions using various channels, focusing on active and persuasive engagement of prospects to make those conversions.
  • Customer-facing team enablement empowers the team through relevant content and materials to increase advocacy and drive sales.

Both are essential in driving CX. 

For life science companies, CX involves all the feelings that arise from each touch point the customer experiences with the brand. It includes customer impressions from their first exposure and the actual usage of a product all the way through to post-service and experience with branded and unbranded solutions. 

Good customer-facing team engagement creates a good, pleasant CX - a combination of emotional and rational considerations that keeps a customer returning. And a bad CX can lead to customer resentment and temporary or even permanent dissociation. 
For organisations looking to create a premium CX and a virtuous cycle of customer-centric, omnichannel engagement, below are four best practices for field engagement. 

Embrace digital and mobile technology

Things are moving fast, and there is a great opportunity to deliver better field engagement by delivering an optimised CX across analog, digital, and hybrid business ecosystems.

In part because of the pandemic and in part because of growing digital fluency, many customers want a more convenient way to interact with companies and organisations, in a combination of offline and online engagement channels. On top of that, they want this under their conditions - on their schedule, via their preferred access point, across the most convenient channel for them. The life sciences industry needs to adjust to this change and transform the way it offers services and interacts with customers. Interactions should occur through customers’ and patients’ preferred channels, depending on the nature or purpose of the interaction, aligned with your segmentation strategy and with the aid of various technologies and devices. With the increased flexibility and enhanced ease-of-use offered by an omnichannel approach (digital, mobile, and physical field engagement) driving a highly personalised engagement journey, customer satisfaction will increase and organisations will see a big return on investment from the overall improved CX.

Enhance effectiveness through education 

Acknowledging that the life sciences industry needs to disrupt its value and service delivery processes is the first step. The next is to unlock service interactions to optimise CX. To implement these changes in the service delivery strategy, organisations should communicate why and how each employee will benefit, engaging the whole workplace and educating employees on coming process changes.

Getting cross-organisational buy-in through an intentional focus on change management is necessary to achieve the right level of adoption. Winning over the hearts and minds of all people involved, internal and external, creates powerful organic advocacy. Cross-functional employee training and education should be the priority, followed by integrations of the right technology to the field techs, then bringing service professionals on board.

Once educated and trained, customer-facing engagement teams can become advocates to customers throughout their buying/prescribing decisions and processes. 

Develop internal business ambassadors

The life sciences industry has significant untapped potential within each discrete customer interaction and segment. One way to unlock this is by motivating employees to become business ambassadors through programmes such as training, mentorship, and certifications. For such a transformation agenda to succeed, everyone in the business must understand their roles and collaborate effectively. The customer-facing engagement teams have a critical role in orchestrating the customer experience, and they must be able to pull the right strings, at the right moment, and mobilise appropriate resources to meet customer expectations. 

Improving the customer experience is a responsibility shared by C-level executives, middle management, and service professionals. By working together towards this goal, the life sciences industry can tap its full potential and deliver better outcomes for its customers and their patients.

Soliciting CX feedback

The ultimate goal of life sciences businesses should be to provide an extraordinary CX through improved personalised service delivery. Soliciting and utilising customer feedback provides a direct path, and life sciences businesses should prioritise customer feedback collection and utilisation.

The following types of questions get to the heart of the customer experience and offer critical visibility into the effectiveness of your customer engagement:  

  • Are we reaching the right customer?
  • Are we doing so at the right time and cadence?
  • Are we connecting through the right channel?
  • Are we prepared with the right purpose for the interaction, supported by the right message and content/services?
  • Are the right platforms supported?
  • Can we translate the data into actionable insights?
  • Can we adjust the commercial service approaches in use?

Obtaining and monitoring metrics are vital to achieving organisational alignment and for continuously measuring your success in executing customer-centric, omnichannel strategies. 

Ultimately, a personalised and effective CX should be delivered through multiple channels seamlessly and naturally, strengthening value across the whole
engagement journey. Cross-functional training and education for employees should be the foundational step for implementing a new approach to CX. By transforming  customer-facing engagement teams into advocates, you’ll create the kind of CX that has customers coming back again and again for your guidance in finding solutions, confident in your ability to solve their problems through your company's portfolio and related value proposition.

About the author

Dirk AbeelDirk Abeel is a passionate, experienced senior leader in sales enablement, commercial excellence, and omnichannel transition and transformation. Abeel has worked for over 30 years in health and life sciences for different companies, geographies, and roles, including Nestle and Reckitt. At Pitcher, focusing on GTM and customer success management, he successfully helps health and life sciences companies turn to omnichannel translating commercial strategies into actionable omnichannel engagement, executed with excellence and supported by tech.