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Is Pharma simply swamped by CX transformation?

Recently, I was thinking, that with all the recent advances, including CX but not limited to, we really expect a lot from our colleagues in pharma industry.

Perhaps too much? Let’s be honest. In pharma, CX transformation goes along with

  1. calling external professional stakeholders “customers” (and looking at them with that perspective) … which for some colleagues is a difficult step (if not even a provocation, see my article on “Why it is good being a customer“), because some of them traditionally see HCPs as kind of peers or partners
  2. accepting patients as “customers” … which for some colleagues definitely is a provocation (see my article on “Who is the pharma customer?“), despite the fact that the industry is broadly lacking experience and smart engagement models (exceptions prove the rule)
  3. accepting digital as the new foundation of everything we do … which might feel for some colleagues that the traditional offline in-persona engagement would not be appreciated anymore, where they were trained on for ages, and it had been the foundation of their success before
  4. … learning that we might have to do things more based on what HCPs and patients actually need … which means getting out of the comfort zone of assuming to know what they would need (or what we want them to need)
  5. learning how to complete customer understanding with quantitative-data-driven customer listening channels and signal detection … where people are very much used to anecdotal feedback by KOLs and are convinced they know all they need to
    (“KOL” = key opinion leader = the ‘key accounts’ in pharma business)
  6. implementing feedback loops allowing to learn & iterate … where the feedback might potentially tell that what you have delivered wasn’t good enough or wasn’t the right piece at all
  7. implementing success measures which are based on customer value & impact … where typical success measures, like e.g. sales figures or omnichannel marketing metrics, are not getting obsolete but on their own were much simpler and easier to follow in context of the well-known traditional business model
  8. in full consequence, all of that might require completely new business models … where many colleagues are still comfortable with the traditional business model, especially considering that it is still very successful today
  9. … last not least, all of that is associated with a need to change behavior(s) … which is the hardest change to achieve

And I am even not sure that this list is complete.

Anyhow … after reflecting on this, I dare to say that for the pharmaceutical industry actually CX transformation is a change to a new business model of the future. Where enterprises which will lead are going to dominate the markets of the future. And this goes far beyond “just” installing VoC, digital channels, or design thinking.

Perhaps one potential reason for failure with digital engagement transformation and CX is that we might simply expect too much at once. Factually asking people for too many substantial changes in parallel, who are still obliged to deliver every single day. Change is done by people, not by strategy documents. And – beyond having the right ambitions and inspiring visions – we have to invest into taking people closer along and allowing them to experience positive impact and success in real life, in the context of their product/disease, in the context of their business.

Rome wasn’t built in a day.


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