Everyone’s Talking About the “Customer Experience”
For marketers, it feels like we went to bed one night in 2016 and the next day, the term customer experience was everywhere. Research shows that what consumers now want — and even demand — from companies is a better experience, and as such, the term is now embedded in the consumer lexicon. The term is so commonplace, it’s found its way into ads in which companies are literally talking about things that can affect the customer experience. For example, a recent car dealership ad went as far as stating that, regardless of whether you come into the dealership or shop online, there’s just one experience.
What’s behind all this focus on customer experience is the fact that we live in a world where products quickly become commodities, with little differentiation in terms of quality and price.
Pharmaceutical companies, which have historically been more brand-centric than customer-centric, are recognizing the strategic necessity of providing a better customer experience as a way to differentiate in today’s highly competitive marketplace. After all, class competitors and ultimately generic entrées into most categories can deliver the death knell to branded drugs that fail to differentiate with a compelling customer experience.
Customer Experience Has Been Around Forever, But How We Do It Has Changed
Customers are quick to discern which companies deliver the best experience and typically reward these companies with their loyalty and repeat business. The idea of the customer experience is by no means unique to the present and that’s why, at Intouch Solutions, we say, “Customer experience – what’s old is new again.”
An early example of competing on customer experience was the “hamburger wars” between McDonald’s and Burger King in the 1970s. McDonalds has always excelled at branding catchy menu items and fun characters for kids. To fight back, Burger King changed the customer experience by telling customers, “have it your way.” This novel approach at a time when food was being churned out en masse became a point of differentiation that Burger King owned for close to 40 years.
Today’s hotel industry has many examples of companies that are ahead of the curve in delivering exceptional end-to-end customer experiences across channels. Over the years, a number of travel aggregators like Priceline, Expedia and others sprung up to sell excess hotel room inventory at a discount. These companies have changed consumer behavior, so that they’re now always looking for a deal on hotels.
Hilton has blunted this diversion of its customers to competitors by third parties by guaranteeing the best price on Hilton.com. It also has an app, which is an effective way to capture the customer’s sole attention and make it easy for them to find, buy and get what they need. Once the room is booked, the app makes it possible for the customer to have an array of actions at their fingertips, including:
- directions to the hotel
- e-reminder for check-in and virtual check-in
- selection of room and other amenities
- credit card number storage for online payment
This is all made possible because Hilton has planned and designed a customer experience that flows seamlessly across channels; ultimately culminating in a personalized, 1:1 experience from the time the customer checks in to when they check out. All the data generated over the course of the journey informs the experience at every step.
The Winning Formula for Customer Experience Success in Pharma
In today’s digital world, the proliferation of channels through which customer experience is delivered necessitates integrating these channels to deliver a seamless experience. Doing so makes it easier and more cost effective for customers to find, buy, get and use what they need.
The formula for delivering a quality customer experience in retail is typically one part search engine + one part checkout + one part delivery + one part customer service. Right now, no one seems to do this better than Amazon, a company highly touted for their award-winning customer experience that’s dominating not only in online retail, but all retail.
Pharmaceutical companies are not immune from the need to provide a compelling, omnichannel customer experience and can benefit from the approach successful online retailers like Amazon take: Make it easy for patients and customers to find, buy/request and get what they need, and fully support HCPs or patients who either prescribe or use their products by providing best-in-class service.
To differentiate themselves from competitors, it’s important for pharma brands to know their audiences. What are they raving or complaining about in social media, for example? What can data analytics reveal about their searching, clicking and shopping habits that can inform how we shape the customer experience?
If you’re interested in learning more about how we can help you create and deliver a customer experience that truly differentiates, reach out to your account lead or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.