Orchestrating Trust in Pharma
What is Orchestrated Customer Engagement and can it help build trust?
Despite pharma being an industry concerned with saving lives and dealing with human-to-human interactions, the lack of trust from various stakeholders has been one of the most persistent issues surrounding the industry. Chief Digital Officer at IMS Health, Richie Etwaru, shares his insights on how pharma can truly earn back the trust of stakeholders through Orchestrated Customer Engagement (OCE), a strategy discussed in-depth in the IMS Health Whitepaper, ‘Orchestrated Customer Engagement: Orchestrate Every Customer Experience to Drive Results.’
From the name itself, OCE is a capability that “orchestrates” or brings together various functions and innovations to enable a horizontal purview. It achieves more efficient communication across Sales, Marketing and IT to achieve more productive and effective customer engagement whilst driving ROI. “OCE reworks from the customer experience to remove friction experienced by customers,” Etwaru explains.
The issue of trust
Trust can be a by-product of people and technological systems work closely together. Etwaru offers an outside-of-industry example to demonstrate how this is possible. The ridesharing company Uber is the largest taxi company in the world and yet it doesn’t own its own vehicles or employ any drivers. Uber’s “information neural network,” as Etwaru refers to it, effectively creates a trusted experience where customers aren’t afraid to jump into a car with a complete stranger.
In an effort to remain technologically relevant, more and more companies in pharma have been acquiring systems for Multi-Channel Marketing (MCM), digital marketing, sales force effectiveness, and market access. “What we have done is acquire best-in-purpose and vertical solutions,” describes Etwaru. However, he points out that the reason trust in pharma isn’t that easy to earn back is precisely because organizations are fundamentally built in silos and vertically oriented solutions.
Friction that erodes trust
Vertical solutions and functions contained in silos create some sort of friction between departments, which is unintentionally carried over to customers during interactions with them. HCPs, the medical communities, payers, regulators, patients, and the public are being fed different messages. “If pharma has a different message to each of those stakeholder types, that ends up creating friction for the patient during an experience that is already fragmented; and that only serves to deteriorate trust further,” warns Etwaru.
Customers also tend to self-orchestrate. Doctors, for instance, are influenced by what they read in medical reports and various publications, what patients share, what sales reps tell them, and what they see on television. “They arbitrate the differences themselves and orchestrate some consistent experience. And more friction can come from that,” says Etwaru. “It isn’t just about understanding the customer, but it’s also about understanding who influences the customer,” he adds.
The three legs of change in OCE
The aim of OCE is to share information fluidly across the organization to guide personnel during their touch points with customers. By bringing the various functions close together, pharma raises the awareness of each function, which allows them to rework from the customer’s experience and reduce the friction.
With OCE, change comes in three parts: people, process, and technology. According to Etwaru, technology is the smallest challenge out of these three. “This is no different than when we shifted towards digital marketing,” he says. Technology change under OCE involves investing in better systems for data management and integration to allow organizations to have near real-time information anywhere across the globe.
If pharma has a different message to each of those stakeholder types, that ends up creating friction for the patient during an experience that is already fragmented; and that only serves to deteriorate trust further.
Companies have been acquiring technological capabilities and systems aggressively in recent years, but Etwaru says some of them have done it too vertically too slow. Technology change should have the goal of achieving a horizontal purview across the organization where each function knows what other functions are doing and understands why others do things the way that they do. Establishing a horizontal purview should also extend towards vendor selection. “Vendors need to align with your changes by having a horizontal purview themselves. This is so that you aren’t consuming products or services from different vendors in a way that only further drives the separation within your organization,” explains Etwaru.
However, technology change will mean very little when people-change is not achieved first. In recent years, pharma has made people-shifts in terms of organizational structure. With changes in the customer and regulatory landscapes, firms have shifted from vertically or geographically oriented autonomy towards a horizontal structure that achieves sharing of services. However, people-shift under OCE refers to a change in point-of-view – from vertical thinking to horizontal thinking. According to Etwaru, “This is where you start looking across your peers and go, ‘How are you guys interacting with the customers? Let’s talk about it.’”
The third leg of OCE is process-change. People-change will necessitate a change in hierarchies and organizational models to improve the culture around customer engagement. This also refers to amending policies, practices and incentive models to streamline employee performance and accountability.
Four strengths of OCE
With the open and fluid communication mix offered by OCE, a company can provide the kind of customer engagement equipped with four specific strengths: context, precision, consistency, and transparency:
- Context - the extent to which stakeholders understand the relationships between stakeholders/partners and customers. It’s about knowing the context surrounding every other stakeholder who occasionally engages with the customer. The technological changes under OCE should enable the sharing of, and access to, data between Sales, Marketing and IT to equip the one individual who is conversing with the customer.
- Precision - closely relates with context. It refers to providing near real-time information to support individuals in creating a well-informed and trusting experience for the customer. Often, precision is hindered by the presence of silos. “We have a lot of available systems today that provide near real-time data,” says Etwaru, “but usually to a single department and not necessarily to others.”
- Consistency - having the same information tone and design to align the messages given to and by various stakeholders/partners. Consistency helps customers avoid confusion.
- Transparency - OCE enables transparency by opening up the various departments and allowing others to see as much of them as possible. It develops an awareness and understanding as to why departments make certain decisions, take certain actions, or carry certain messages.
A sense of urgency for pharma execs
Execs of companies that are doing well business-wise might not give OCE the time of day. However, Etwaru says that they might quickly change their mind once they realize that pharma is on the brink of a major change. “Pharma is undergoing an evolution,” he says. With more customers participating online and more digital capabilities being acquired by pharma, there are increasing numbers of digital interactions with customers. However, the people tasked to handle human-to-human interactions are not being developed at the same rate. “Trust is a soft skill built by people who can understand moments and apply emotional intelligence,” explains Etwaru; and the only way to build trust on the digital landscape is by having context, precision, consistency and transparency (strengths of OCE).
When execs see that the ‘velocity’ of change in terms of what customers’ want is only getting faster while their people portfolio remains the same, it becomes easier to justify the need for a people-shift in pharma. Execs who recognize the fact that market change will take place in the next two to three years will be easily convinced that the existing skill set and knowledge of their people will no longer suffice.
There are many forward thinkers in the industry who are conducting pilot projects in an attempt to adapt to the ever-changing needs of customers. However, Etwaru believes that many of these pilot projects are being created within a vertical framework that doesn’t help with the rebuilding of trust. This isn’t to say that the OCE is a broad-brush statement that pharma drastically needs a different sales and marketing skills set to weather the market changes in the coming years. Instead, OCE provides a solution for how existing skills and capabilities can be orchestrated better to provide efficient and meaningful customer engagements.
Social and technological innovations have been making huge changes in pharma’s product and service portfolio. Patient-centricity is also a concept that is making a great impact on organizational structures and cultures. However, Etwaru says these developments cannot go far if customers still feel some semblance of distrust. The OCE is a good starting point to rid customers of the friction that pharma is unintentionally letting them experience.
Richie Etwaru, Chief Digital Officer, IMS will be sharing insights on a webinar "Beyond Marketing: Making Personalization & Customer Satisfaction A Reality", February 11th, 2016.
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