Pharma Europe 2021

Oct 12, 2021 - Oct 13, 2021,

Meet decision-makers from across the entire value chain, with 2000+ leaders from commercial, marketing, digital, patient engagement and advocacy, clinical development, medical affairs, market access, RWE and more. You can’t miss it.

Creating a holistic customer experience

Finding solutions to unmet customer needs means harnessing the combined power of medical and marketing skills – and creating a culture to match



How can pharma continue to evolve its model of customer engagement? 
 
The answer is to create a holistic customer experience through the collaboration of medical and marketing functions that aligns the medical and marketing teams on the objectives that address the different type of customer needs and that harnesses their unique tools and skills.
 
“Solving the unmet customer need with the right skills and tools is the driver of success rather than thinking only one type of function can and should drive solutions for customers," says Anna Kostova, General Manager, Region Europe, at Allergan Aesthetics. 
 
The traditional model of medical and marketing functions working in silos is a barrier to a holistic customer approach because it stifles the opportunity for the co-creation of solutions based on curious questions asked within a framework of customer and patient journey mapping, informed by medical and marketing teams. 
 
An integrated customer engagement approach also creates a blend of authenticity and commercial acumen, increasing the ability of marketing teams to offer consultancy services powered by insight that are then more likely to foster collaboration.
 
Philippe Kirby, Digital Capabilities & Analytics Lead at MSD, thinks the ubiquity of digital communication is fast-tracking the agile convergence of medical and marketing skills within cross-functional teams as digital channels reveal novel customer needs.
 
“There’s an increasing trend for healthcare professionals to take to Twitter to talk to their peers when searching quickly for the most relevant scientific pieces of information especially in areas where there are knowledge gaps or knowledge is fast emerging such as in oncology," says Kirby. "Figuring out how we can provide HCPs with relevant information at the right time and in the right way to support peer-to-peer education is a need we can solve best by working cross-functionally.”  
  
Kirby gives MSD’s oncology franchise as an example of agile cross-functional working to find solutions to customer needs. “MSD has been in oncology for six years and a lot of the building of this successful franchise has been about understanding the ongoing educational needs of oncologists. 
 
Our marketing colleagues use their expertise to understand what is driving unmet educational needs which sets up our medical colleagues to support with educational material and engage with customers to progress the customer journey,” says Kirby, who adds that medical teams also work closely with R&D to understand patient needs and bring this support to the streamlining of go-to-market processes. 
 
Develop a new mindset 
At Allergan, cross-functional teams of medical and marketing colleagues work on preparing for new products and indications, developing brand plans together. However, although most members of an audience poll during a recent eyeforpharma virtual panel discussion agreed that medical and marketing functions should define customer engagement together, a third disagreed. 
 
Kirby thinks reticence about cross-functional engagement lies at the heart of an outdated mindset. “There’s still the notion of medical versus marketing but we have the same mission which is to help patients get better and live a better life. Collaborating around this mission in context of regulatory needs is possible.”
 
Kostova agrees: “There’s still the concept that because of compliance we should not mix the two functions, but this is driven by fear and cultural barriers. Engagement of the two functions is possible within a compliance framework.”  
 
Create an integrated culture 
What then are the crucial ingredients in mixing medical and marketing functions successfully? Heather Moses, Country Medical Director at Novartis Oncology UK, says integration needs leadership, structures, incentives, accountability, and responsibility. “Leadership behaviour is crucial to setting a collaborative example in a company with integrated role structures and incentives based on achieving customer goals. There needs to be a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the different functions to ensure each function remains accountable with both being responsible for achieving goals,” says Moses.
 
She adds that training across functional roles can drive functional connectivity by building empathy and that the early input of compliance teams in planning processes can ensure cross-functional teams avoid going down the 'wrong path'. 
 
Kirby believes that as well as regulatory challenges, deeper integration between medical and marketing functions could bring privacy challenges as tactics focus more and more on digital communication channels. “The privacy aspects are going to rise to the front and customer engagement models are going to have to deal with this. They will have to be transparent in terms of what we gather, what we store and in exchange for the data we gather provide a value return,” he explains.
 
So as the customer engagement model continues to evolve, how will this have shaped up five years from now? Kostova reckons multi-functional teams based on a pull rather than push model will be the norm.
 
Crucial to their effectiveness when it comes to digital engagement, adds Kirby, is insights: “These multi-functional teams will need to use the insights generated by each digital interaction, whether it be social medial, email, web portals, remote, mobile or apps, to understand customer and patient needs and behaviours as they move through the marketing funnel, from awareness to advocacy, to optimize their campaigns.”
 
 

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Pharma Europe 2021

Oct 12, 2021 - Oct 13, 2021,

Meet decision-makers from across the entire value chain, with 2000+ leaders from commercial, marketing, digital, patient engagement and advocacy, clinical development, medical affairs, market access, RWE and more. You can’t miss it.