Avoiding the Tactical Trap in Pharma CX

By Dom Tyer

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Customer experience (CX) is not a new discipline for pharma, but it does continue to provide the industry with growing pains.

Just how troublesome those pains are will be revealed later this Spring when I publish DT’s 2024 benchmarking data on pharma customer experience, research that our Data & Insights team are diligently working on right now.

But if I look back to last year’s pharma CX research, the global industry managed a good ranking overall when viewed through the lens of our Customer Experience Quotient® (CXQ®) metric, but it wasn’t a strong good score and certainly it wasn’t one threatening to approach excellence.

These are changing times and, as with so much else, CX was negatively affected during the pandemic. The industry by and large recovered from that dip in 2023, but for pharma, good CX should really be the minimum that companies are aiming for in their engagement with healthcare professionals (HCPs), patients/trial participants, or payors.

So, when even the pharmaceutical companies that are at the forefront of CX have room for improvement, what can the leaders – and laggards – do to raise their performance so that it starts to match the level of their ambitions?

One area that could be addressed would be to elevate the responsibility for CX to a higher, centralized level within organizations.

At present, CX is still being left with brand and therapy area teams when it comes to ‘the last mile’ of delivery, resulting in desperate customer experiences and inefficiencies across the business.

In such circumstances it’s no wonder that pharma operations, when run on a brand-by-brand basis, are prone to implementing very tactical CX interventions that are often put in place without a business case being developed for the value they will drive.

This ‘tactical trap’, and its attendant lack of a holistic channel strategy, also often extends to the industry’s engagement with patients. Pharma needs to prove it is engaging with both HCPs and patients in ways both find helpful. At present that is often not the case, as can be seen in the industry’s average and below-par CX scores for interactions with HCPs and patients respectively. One of the causes of this is that many organizations have multiple teams with CX responsibilities – rather than a single centralized team – and so it’s hard for CX to prove its the value while different teams jostle for position within the organization.

Instead, an interconnected strategy for HCPs and patients would produce an approach whose power is far greater than the sum of its parts. It would also ensure a better overall use of a company’s investment in CX by being operationally-aligned across the organization with clear ownership of who owns the customer relationship. Connecting the dots across customer experiences will make operations more efficient and more effective. It could also open new possibilities, such as CX studies in multiple therapy areas that generate ideas about where a company could build out new products and services.

With top-down mandates within pharma companies to be more customer-centric, the pressure on brand teams to prove they are living up to these expectations, while also showcasing the value that internal initiatives are driving, is only going to grow. CX provides an evidence-based method for assessing and measuring customer-centricity. Elevating its reasonability to a high-functioning centralized CX team that could sit in commercial, digital or across business units will help pharma grow into its worthy ambitions and avoid the tactical trap.

Sign up to our latest insights

By checking this box, you agree to receive survey invitations and our latest insights.