Customer Experience Innovation for Life Sciences Brands

How thinking differently about customer experiences could accelerate treatment adoption and adherence.

Life Science marketers must look beyond traditional patient and physician roles to unlock customer experience innovation, speed treatment adoption and accelerate growth. This will require using a wider lens when designing and delivering patient and physician experiences; to understand that patients and physicians are also shoppers, owners and information seekers.

Currently, Life Science marketers make substantial investments to increase their understanding of their customers: patients and physicians. They build segmentation models, delve into patient journeys, map patient flows, plan sales and physician engagement and observe brand touchpoint interactions. The investment pays off in in strong branding and messaging. But customer experience innovation is a rare outcome. These activities reinforce a view of patients as sufferers and physicians as healers; a paradigm that leaves little room for new insights to fuel innovation.

In other categories, marketers have recognized that customers have multiple roles – and all of them can influence brand adoption. Sports brands, like Gatorade, consider athletes as empowered shoppers seeking shopping experience innovation. Appliance brands, like Electrolux, see home chefs as owners who want an improved post-purchase experience. Commercial insurers, like Zurich Financial, see brokers as information seekers who are interested in better learning experiences.

What if Life Science brands were to see:

  • sufferers as shoppers who want a better experience for exploring their options and selecting the best treatment
  • patients as owners whose loyalty can be enhanced by better post purchase experiences
  • physicians as information seekers who can be motivated by better learning experiences

Sufferers as shoppers

Taking a shopper lens to sufferers has several advantages, particularly in chronic or preventative care where the end consumer has an important decision making role.

First, it opens up strategic innovation territories based on the steps in the shopper journey. These may include an inspiration step that spurs a search for a new treatment, a discovery phase to identify possible treatment alternatives, an evaluation phase where possible treatments are reviewed in consultation with physicians and a selection phase where choices are made.

Second, it reveals the motivations that must be addressed at each step in the path to treatment. Such as the fear of receiving bad news that can inhibit seeking a diagnosis or the confusion from being overwhelmed by treatment alternatives during the discovery step.

Third, it exposes the possibilities for experience innovation based on examples outside the category. The needs matching software that has become so popular at Sephora may have promise in the discovery step. Car comparison apps may provide useful ideas during the evaluation phase. Maybe GoPro’s social emphasis on communities of adventurers can be applied to create communities of recoverees who share their life adventures

Patients as owners

Thinking of patients as brand owners opens the aperture for innovation in adherence, brand advocacy and brand extension.

If patients are owners, then they require onboarding programs once they return to their homes. Programs that help them become comfortable with how to properly maintain treatments, as well as, using other resources the brand has put at their disposal. Could Life Science brands learn from USAA who have built onboarding into an art through welcome phone calls, periodic touch ins and a set of onboarding tools? Insurers have learned that effective onboarding within 90 days of purchase is one of the most important drivers of brand loyalty. What is the window for new medical treatments to drive adherence?

If patients are owners, then treatment adherence is just the beginning. Life Science brands can learn from brands such as Nike, who build long term relationships that include fitness programs and seminars, advocacy opportunities for healthier living, ways to use social to help others with similar athletic challenges and incentives to remain a Nike owner.

With an owner mindset Life Science brands can redefine the relationship they have with their customers and exploit new technologies based on the Internet of Things, rethink how content is shared and exchanged by owners and consider offering added services or even setting up e-commerce operations.

Physicians as information seekers

If physicians are information seekers, then sales forces and physician training programs are necessary but insufficient tools to accelerate treatment adoption. The entire learning process must be rethought with a focus on how different segments of physicians gather, filter and incorporate information into knowledge.

Opportunities to innovate in the use of mobile technologies or the use of physician social communities are the most evident. The ways that digital information providers repackage and personalize content provide useful case studies. The day when learning programs can be individualized based on physician profiles are rapidly approaching. Individualization based on the profile of their patient population is soon to follow.

New Outcomes from Experience Innovation

Life Science marketers who expand their customer view can drive growth through two types of customer experience innovation. The first are signature touchpoints that provide unique, branded experiences that fulfil an important shopping, ownership or learning need. Astra Zeneca’s recent launch of a brand ownership hub is an example. The second are quick wins that address bottlenecks in the current experience. Improvements in how content is provided at each step in the path to adoption and adherence are examples of quick wins.

At Prophet we’ve applied this expanded customer view with great success. It requires new approaches to mapping the current and future experience. In the Life Sciences industry, the opportunities to gain competitive advantage are abundant and waiting to be seized.

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