The rise in healthcare consumerism is triggering a large-scale transformation in the pharmaceutical industry. An aspect of this transformation relates to the Customer Centers where the Contact Center offers omnichannel customer support. The traditional physical infrastructure of Contact Centers has been greatly disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device companies are reevaluating digital transformation, self-service, the new normal of customer contact, and the Voice of the Customer to deliver better customer experiences.

The opportunity: Contact centers are growing in importance, as customers increasingly expect organizations to be consistently available on various channels, not just over the phone.

The failure: Many contact centers struggle to unlock the full benefits of digital transformation because they fail to connect experiences along the customer journey. We must break down silos to use all the available data for tailored engagement.

Contact centers take an omnichannel approach, enabling them to refine customer service, increase efficiency and improve insights into customers’ behaviors and needs to create better customer experiences. Sample management, copay assistance, product information, and telemedicine are the main areas where they can make a big difference.

The customer center is an ever-evolving space and the digital solutions applied play a major role in program delivery. Each program delivery has its own requirements and unique customer needs, hence why an engagement-based workflow design delivered through an integrated audit-proof modular solution is more effective in driving commercial success at scale. Below, I will be exploring four main areas that provide the bedrock for a modular contact center infrastructure.

1. Phone calls and digital channels

If you offer consumers and practitioners a hotline that provides the latest information related to the issue, as well as calming their concerns, it shows how much you value their partnership. This can be furthered enhanced by the integration of multiple platforms that can share customer context as well as to adapt experiences across voice and digital channels. Virtual agents that use customer intent prediction will enable agile service teams, and the cloud is a vital component for a successful contact center strategy as organizations need the ability to make holistic changes quickly.

2. Self-service

Self-service portals are not new in pharma, however when departments deliver services separately with different portals, systems, and processes, customers get a fragmented and inconsistent experience. In order to enhance HCP and patient engagement, we must enable data transfer within the set regulations, deliver a single customer service-oriented destination to access medical information and learn about services; as well as predict, identify, minimize, monitor, and measure drug safety issues. Pharma companies can now also use different ways of engaging patients to improve medication adherence and provide support resources, via new channels where chat APIs can be embedded. In addition to this, if pharma were to take the lead and resolve some of the data privacy questions, messaging platforms might prove powerful tools for improving patient engagement, allowing them to connect with patients through apps they use routinely. Today’s patients are better informed and typically looking for credible information and better tactics of engagement than the traditional leaflets or tokenistic social media posts. All other digital channels combined with self-service capabilities will ultimately encourage better customer engagement, contributing to new business models, more convenient interactions, and more advanced transactions.

3. Achieving the right blend of automation and human interaction

Customer experience has to be successful and financially viable. The 5 most critical components of CX are 1. Enabling graceful, painless interactions; 2. Providing speedy service; 3. Ensuring that customers feel understood; 4. Making relevant information easy to find; and 5. Being consistent and connected across channels. AI and human agents complement interactions at scale. Human agents bring the personal touch: intuition, empathy, and experience that AI-based systems can only emulate. Contact centers are also the ideal place for an organization to collect and react to the voice of customer information with post-call surveys, and AI-enhanced tools such as voice analytics can portray customer sentiment and behavior scores to inform an organization on customer perspectives and needs.

4. VoC applications – feedback collection, analysis, and action

Nearly every organization feels pressure to provide a better customer experience. However, most haven’t yet aligned the talk with tangible, real-world investment, including building CX subject matter awareness, expertise, leadership, and adoption across their organizations. We should make every effort to capture and act on the voice of the customer in contact centers, and understand how it should be applied. Using the voice of the customer (VoC) as the basis for innovation in your contact center lets you know what customers expect and want. With a VoC application, CX leaders supporting the customer experience can better manage customer journeys by gaining a deeper understanding of the customers’ needs and perceptions, which generates recommendations and actions at all levels of the organization.

With digitization, customers can communicate with a company at any time, on any device, and the agent can see their information in real-time. The main benefits of using this model are 1. Saves time and money; 2. Delivers better customer information & profiling; 3. Improves customer experience through data. The CX Network report looking at the Top 10 CX investments in the coming years has found that contact center solutions rank highest in order of priority.

A growing number of AI-driven analytical capabilities are being developed in order to ingest, parse, understand and obtain insight from unstructured data of both text and audio data, such as customer service calls, chatbots, social media postings, and open-ended survey questions. Through the use of analytical features, data can be converted into insights that can be used for diagnosing, predicting, and recommending. An example of how AI can improve customer experiences and agent productivity is the Microsoft/Nuance integration to provide contact centers with AI-driven solutions to engage customers across a variety of voice and digital channels, all while delivering innovative customer experiences and business outcomes.

Organizations that excel at CX are investing in methods to centralize analytics and decision-making approaches and scale them exponentially, across all connected channels. CX leaders are investing in customer data platforms and real-time decision engines. 

The challenge is not just to stand-out, but to pivot, innovate and transform. It is clear that in the long run, pharma companies will compete on science and customer experience, therefore we must invest in the longer-term, and more sustainable relationships with customers.