Now more than ever, pharma must recognize that every customer brings an opportunity to build an ongoing relationship and that customer relationship management (CRM) isn’t solely about collecting data and profiting from it. Today’s CRM requires a customer-centric model based on reciprocity. This new method applies to interactions with both healthcare providers and patients alike.

What Consumers Want and Expect
Customers don’t want to feel controlled, managed or talked down to. Instead, they want to feel like their voices are being heard, like their needs matter, like they can trust the businesses they patronize. Here are four ways to instill confidence and promote reciprocity:

  • Make it easy — Show that you value a user’s time by making it easy for them to find what they’re looking for when they visit your site. Requests for detailed personal information or a never-ending stream of pop-ups might send them packing.
  • Be transparent — Forty-five percent of 1,000 people surveyed said it’s important to them to feel like a company is communicating honestly with them. If you ask them to share personal data, tell them what you will and won’t do with it.
  • Keep it seamless — Knowing your customers means knowing what they want, when they want it. Be consistent in your messaging, online and offline, to provide the most seamless, personalized experience.
  • Be responsive — People have come to expect responses in the online social space. If they comment or tweet or ask a question on one of your social media pages, talk back to them!

Why People Share Personal Data
The importance of understanding what your customers want and need cannot be underestimated. People won’t spend time or share personal information on your site if they don’t feel there’s something in it for them.

For pharma’s purposes, what patients most likely want is information. More than 70 percent of adults look for health information online; 40 percent surveyed say they have searched for health information on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube; and 20 percent check online reviews of particular drugs.

Customers also appear to be willing to share personal information in exchange for tangible rewards, such as discounts, coupons or free services.

Chart comparing social and non-social media users willingness to trade personal info for free services

How Important Is Personal Privacy?
When it comes to protecting personal information, there’s a clear disconnect between what people say they value and what they actually value. A 2014 Pew Research study found that 55 percent of U.S. adults categorized their health status and the medicines they took as “very sensitive” information, while 26 percent said that information was “somewhat sensitive.” Yet, despite these concerns, 36 percent of U.S. adults acknowledge that online services are more efficient precisely because of the increased access they have to personal data. Furthermore, 55 percent are willing to share some information about themselves with companies in order to gain access to online services. Experts predict that by 2025, the public will have lost the concept of privacy as we know it today. Still, the responsibility remains with the industry to respect and protect customer data.

Registration: Make It Easy, Keep It Simple
The more information you can collect about your customers, the more personalized you can make their user experience. Consumer information captured via registration forms remains critical in the pharma world and often serves as the key to building relationships with patients and healthcare providers.

Online registration forms have evolved dramatically since the early days of CRM. Three types of registration forms we’ve talked about recently include:

  • DynamicImage showing example of social sign-in options
  • Static
  • Interactive/dialogue-based

A fourth type — social sign-in (also called social login) — has become the preferred method for as many as 65 percent of consumers who also use social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google and YouTube.

The lines between CRM and social media were blurred long ago, and sites that use social login offer visitors the opportunity to skip completing a long registration form and instead sign in using one of their social media usernames and passwords. Not all social login is created equal, however, as the graphic below demonstrates. The amount of information a user shares — knowingly or otherwise — depends on which social network a user signs in with.

Comparison of info collected by different social platforms

As we wrote this past July, Facebook’s new lead ads offer a two-tap process that streamlines registration “by allowing users to stay in the Facebook app and auto-filling fields with contact information users have already shared with Facebook. Despite some concerns about privacy, this new model is expected to significantly increase conversion rates.”

Social login is also beneficial for users because it lets them avoid remembering yet another username and password. Sixty-five percent of people surveyed about social login said they use it because it’s faster than filling out a registration form online, and 60 percent of U.S. consumers say they have abandoned a purchase on a website or app because it required them to fill out a registration form.

Pharma can benefit from social login in several ways:

  • Submission of fake information will decrease.
  • When sign-in is simple, you’ll likely get more sign-ups and more repeat visitors.
  • You gain access to an individual’s preferences, interests and concerns, which makes personalizing content even easier.
  • You can track a customer’s social network choices and identify key opinion leaders.
  • You can send hyper-targeted ads, for example, by using a user’s phone location services to send near-field communications in participating stores like Walgreens.

It’s worth noting that at least two pharma companies, Eli Lilly and Janssen, are using social login:

  • Lilly Clinical Open Innovation offers two apps — Trials4Me and ClinicalCollections — on its website. The apps require third-party authentication via Twitter or Yahoo! for use.
  • Janssen offers social sign-in to HCPs joining its INVOKANA® F1rst Look CRM program. Members of Doximity can use their Doximity account to register.

Example of pharmaceutical social sign-in for HCPs who use Doximity

On the whole, the industry has been reluctant to tap this resource. Concerns about regulatory and privacy issues are legitimate, but not insurmountable, as these two examples attest.

Change Is Good
Our phones, tablets and laptops have made living online the new normal, and as a result, ideas about sharing and privacy are changing. There are more opportunities to collect data, and because of that, CRM is also evolving. It’s now possible to seamlessly embed CRM into the entire brand experience across multiple channels — online, in package inserts, via near-field communications in-store or in-office, electronic medical records, etc. — but consumers will continue to expect reciprocity. Stop talking at and start listening to and speaking with customers. Find out what they want and give it to them.