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What Do a Flooded Basement and ePharma Have in Common?

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We had a pipe burst in our finished basement in December. The geyser that came shooting out of the wall flooded several rooms and managed to ruin a couple of walls, part of the ceiling, and the floor in the entire basement. No furniture was ruined, it was the bottom floor, and insurance is covering most of it. Really, it could have been worse. And we’re slowly getting around to getting it fixed.

Slowly. And painfully.

We’ve never done a home renovation project like this, and we’ve never built a house. So I’ve been amazed that, just for a couple of walls and the floor, there is a tremendous amount of specialists that have to come together to make it all happen.

First, the plumber. Then the insurance guy. Then the big-fans-and-humidifier guy. Eventually, the sheetrock guy, sheetrock mud guy, tile dudes, carpet installers, and the painter have all gotten involved. Oh - and the plumber had to come back a second time.

Has it gone smoothly? Not really. I’ve been appalled at the “customer service” these “professionals” have provided — or lack thereof. Just getting people to call us back was a chore; some of them never did, and so we moved on to our second choice. Often we couldn’t get time ranges nailed down for anything less than a “Thursday” — the cable companies can even usually do better than that. Or they’d tell us a date would work and then they’d reschedule. We had a no-show on a weekday where we’d taken off work to meet them. One of their email addresses was incorrect on both their website and email signature. One of the bids we asked for never followed up. I could go on …

In this day and age (I promised not to say “in this economy!”) and when you’d think contractors would be happy to have the work, they didn’t follow through. [For the record, Traveler’s insurance has been fair. And the big-fans-and-humidifier guys (ServPro) were excellent — but hopefully you’ll never have a need for them.]

Why am I telling you about our housing woes? Because it inspired me ...

  1. The situation struck me as very similar to all the very specialized skillsets that come together to build a Web presence behind the scenes. It’s a complicated process that few people probably appreciate. In addition to the folks involved on the client side, major digital projects can involve strategists, account staff, researchers, creative teams, flash developers, technical architects, usability specialists, project managers, business systems analysts, search strategists, the analytics team, the social media team, mobile media experts, CRM specialists, database gurus, email specialists … the list goes on!
  2. If you work with partners that are responsive and happy to have your business, be thankful. Apparently not everyone in business to provide a service realizes it.

And pharma marketers should consider: As a provider of a product (drug X) or service (adherence program) to your customers (patients or HCPs), are you putting them first? Are you answering their calls, responding to their questions, and showing up when and where they need you to? (Often, that’s online) This can be a difficult thing for pharma to do in such a highly regulated environment, but It’s good to have goals.

The moral of the story? If the sprinkler guys say they’re going to blow out the sprinkler system in the fall, make damn sure they do.


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