The State Of Customer Experience In The European Pharmaceutical Industry, 2022: HCP Interactions

Executive Summary

The European pharma industry is in a period of adjustment after COVID, gradually returning to the familiar pre-lockdown norm of face-to-face engagement with HCPs. But in doing so, it risks abandoning digital channels that can provide above-average customer experiences. And even as this year’s industry leader in CX approaches a coveted excellent ranking for its engagement efforts, several companies are struggling to meet the needs of HCPs. Applying our Customer Experience Quotient® (CXQ®) metric to over 4,500 interactions between pharma firms and HCPs reveals several ways that companies can prioritize both the right channel and the right content.

The Current State of European Customer Experience in Pharma

DT Consulting has been conducting Customer Experience Quotient® (CXQ®) studies of interactions between healthcare professionals (HCPs) and the pharma industry since 2017. In the 2022 study, our largest yet, 6,270 HCPs in 14 countries across the globe rated a total of 12,540 recent experiences with a pharma company.[i] This report, based on responses received from 2,265 HCPs in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK and their 4,530 interactions with the pharma industry, reveals the current state of the experiences pharma firms provide HCPs in Europe’s five largest markets, how digital and non-digital channels compare, and CX differences for some of the industry’s most important therapy areas. Our study shows that:

  • CX in Europe is recovering from COVID, and digital retains a slight lead. The stresses and strains that the pandemic put on HCPs, healthcare systems, and the pharma industry saw Europe’s overall CXQ® score in 2021 drop to 48, in the fair range. Our most recent survey puts the industry as a whole in the good range with a reasonable—although by no means strong—overall CXQ® score of 59 (see Figure 1). Although overall CX has risen, the relationship between digital and non-digital channels hasn’t changed: digital channels as a whole continue to enjoy the same slim one-point lead over their non-digital counterparts that they had during the COVID years.
  • Digitally enabled medical reps outpace their sales counterparts. HCPs get better CX from medical reps than sales reps in all of the channels they have in common in our survey, but the gap between the two is particularly marked when it comes to digital (see Figure 2). Video calls from medical reps approached the customer experience excellence that pharma should aspire to, with a CXQ® score of 72—eight points higher than when the video calls came from sales reps. HCPs also gave a higher CXQ® score to emails received directly from medical reps (58) than from sales reps (50).
  • Large company events struggle to find a place in the new normal. During the acute phase of the pandemic, virtual meetings overtook in-person events as the most popular channel with HCPs, thanks to their greater convenience and accessibility. In a post-pandemic Europe, face-to-face interactions are once again possible at scale, and in-person meetings are back on the agenda for many HCPs. Among group gatherings, only small in-person company events impressed HCPs, receiving a CXQ® score of 66. Virtual meetings enjoyed a slim one-point lead over large pharma meetings, which have so far failed to regain their pre-COVID dominance.
  • Dermatology and oncology get the experiences from pharma. In 2022, HCPs in all eight therapy areas gave pharma scores in the good range. While HCPs working in dermatology (with a CXQ® of 67) and oncology (65) were the most satisfied, pharma still has a way to go to deliver excellent CX to these practitioners (see Figure 3). HCPs working in general practice were the least satisfied with their current pharma interactions. Finally, the 12-point difference between the highest and lowest CXQ® scores given in the eight therapy areas reveals a lack of consistency in the CX that pharma provides HCPs.

[i] See the January 10, 2023 report “The State Of Customer Experience In The Global Pharmaceutical Industry, 2022: HCP Interactions”.

Figure 1: European healthcare professionals had good pharma customer experiences overall in 2022


Figure 2: Medical reps impressed European healthcare professionals with a near-excellent use of video calls


Figure 3: Pulmonologists and general practitioners were least impressed by their experiences


Two Companies Lead in European CX

Most pharma companies in Europe struggle to differentiate themselves in terms of the quality of customer experiences they are provide HCPs. Nevertheless, this year’s survey did identify a clear leader and a closely packed second tier. Notably, nearly all of the companies we studied improved their CX in 2022; only one firm’s CXQ® ranking fell, slipping back by four points. In 2021, the companies in our survey tended to underperform, with 60% of the firms scoring in the fair range. In contrast, just 9% of the firms languished there in 2022, with the overwhelming majority earning a score in the good range—although no company yet delivers the desired excellent customer experiences. Our data shows that:
  • Pharma’s leaders are riding a post-COVID recovery wave. The leading two companies in our survey both achieved strong double-digit increases in their CXQ® scores; Firm A’s CXQ® score rose by 23 points to 69; Firm B’s score increased by 18 points to 66 (see Figure 4). Firm A’s consistent CX performance received a slight lift from the relevance of its offerings. Firm B benefited from its strong showing in terms of trust, which counterbalanced a relatively good but not leading score for the simplicity of its (access to) content.
  • One company is approaching excellence in its use of non-digital channels. Firm A came close to CX excellence in its use of non-digital channels, with a CXQ® score of 71 (see Figure 5). This was driven by it having the leading—and only excellent—score for relevance in our benchmark, one that saw it comfortably outpace the rest of the industry. Firm B was a solid second; its more consistent customer experience performance enabled it to achieve a CXQ® of 68.
  • A single leader is pulling ahead in digital channels. Winning scores for all three attributes in the CXQ® metric gave Firm A an edge, particularly in terms of trust, which approached an excellent score. But, overall, digital CX continues to challenge pharma: four of the ten companies in our benchmark failed to achieve a good score, with a further three only just reaching this moderate level of performance.

Figure 4: The clear CX leader is followed by a closely clustered second tier


Figure 5: Non-digital customer experiences have had a post-COVID turnaround


Figure 6: Being good at digital CX is a challenge for most pharma companies in Europe


Perilous Digital Content Gaps and Familiar Material Risks Turning Stale

Pharma’s engagement model varies substantially across Europe. In four of the five countries in our survey, the majority of interactions occurred in non-digital channels, varying from 82% in Spain to 66% in Germany. The exception was the UK, where digital interactions accounted for 53% of the industry interactions among HCPs. Since our last CXQ® study, which we fielded during the acute phase of the COVID pandemic, pharma firms in all countries have changed how—and how much—they rely on non-digital channels, although each market has charted its own course. We also found that:

  • Prescription information, the drug content received most often, isn’t pulling its weight. Most of the drug information that the surveyed HCPs received from pharma firms was either prescription and dosage information or prescription and treatment guidelines (see Figure 7). These two content types account for more than half of all drug information interactions, yet this familiar, regularly produced content is not meeting HCPs’ needs. New—and potentially more interesting—content like new indication information and new clinical data are among the types of content currently providing leading customer experiences.
  • There is a digital drop-off for the content HCPs need the most. There are huge CX gaps between the use of digital and non-digital channels for the types of content that HCPs said were most relevant to their professional practice (see Figure 8). The most prominent examples of this were the delivery of new clinical data, prescription and treatment guidelines, and disease or symptom information for HCPs; in these areas, non-digital channels outscored digital channels by 13 to 15 points. This aligns with the broader gap that pharma faces between non-digital channels and their generally lower-performing digital equivalents.
  • Only patient trial information narrows pharma’s digital gap. The use of digital channels to provide HCPs with clinical trial information for patients was where pharma companies managed to almost close its digital gap, with non-digital channels—and their CXQ® of 61—just three points ahead. Clinical trial information for patients, with its CXQ® of 58 in digital channels, offers a better customer experience than trial information for HCPs, suggesting a gap in pharma’s understanding of stakeholder needs.
  • Non-digital channels marry top content needs with leading CX. In our survey, new clinical data in non-digital channels was both the most relevant type of content for HCPs’ work and the type of content that provided the best CX. A CXQ® score of 65 still gives it plenty of room for improvement before it attains excellence; this is also the case with prescription and treatment guidelines—ranked joint second for most relevant content type—and its CXQ® score of 63.

Figure 7: Regular, broadly produced content doesn’t meet healthcare professionals’ needs


Figure 8: There is a wide “digital gap” for healthcare professionals’ most preferred content


Prepare For a New Phase of Ongoing Adjustment in CX

Post-pandemic, pharma companies face a choice between returning to business as usual or seizing the opportunity to move toward a “new normal” of ongoing adjustment. Continuous CX measurement will be key for firms that want to accurately plot a course for their customer experience transformation, because the shifts we have outlined are unlikely to be the last the industry sees. Digital channels are not a quick and easy route to CX excellence, but a careful recalibration of where technology sits in the engagement mix—and which content types need to use it more effectively—would enable more companies to start to move towards an omnichannel approach to CX planning and engagement. Additionally, pharma firms should:

  • Learn cross-market lessons to lift regional CX. The post-COVID recovery of pharma CX in Europe has been unequally distributed. In general, we have seen larger CXQ® score rises in countries where pharma increased the proportion of digital interactions, which should prompt further investigation of exactly which digital channels to use for best effect.
  • Pause traditional thinking about engagement channels. The full picture of pharma’s post-pandemic engagement has yet to emerge as firms continue to adjust their channel choices. Even so, large company events may never fully regain their pre-pandemic dominance. As HCPs reassess the access, convenience, and cost considerations of traveling to major events, pharma companies should look to more “boutique” engagements—whether digital or in-person—that better meet HCPs’ needs.
  • Shift some rep investment from sales to medical. From face-to-face to video calls to email, medical reps provided better customer experiences than their sales counterparts in every channel our survey measured. While there’s no doubt that sales reps will continue to play a valuable role in pharma engagement, companies that strive to be customer-centric must try to rebalance their medical and sales field force investments and orchestrate HCP interactions between the two.


DT Consulting’s European Customer Experience Quotient® (CXQ®) study of HCP interactions was conducted from July to September 2022 as part of DT’s global CXQ® study of HCP interactions. The email-initiated online customer experience survey involved 900 HCPs working primarily in cardiology, dermatology, endocrinology/diabetology, gastroenterology, general practice/family medicine, hematology, oncology, and pulmonology/respiratory. Each of the Europe-based respondents rated two recent experiences with a pharma company on their trust, relevance, and simplicity to produce a CXQ® score that covers the 26 channels most used by the pharma industry and the 22 types of content (information or services) it most frequently provides.

Related Research

Companies Researched In This Report

Abbott, AbbVie, Amgen, AstraZeneca, Bayer, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol Myers Squibb, Daiichi Sankyo, Gilead, GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen, Lilly, Menarini, Merck & Co, Novartis Novo Nordisk, Pfizer, Pierre Fabre, Roche, Sanofi, Servier, Takeda


Dominic Tyer crc

Dominic Tyer


Dominic has more than 20 years of pharmaceutical publishing experience at leading industry titles and is an influential author on the digital transformation of the healthcare sector. In his current role at DT Consulting he is responsible for defining and executing the company’s expanding publication agenda and peer networking event schedule, both of which address the needs of pharmaceutical companies and their leaders.

Tim van Tongeren

Managing Partner

For more than fifteen years, Tim has worked with commercial leaders to navigate their strategic and organizational transformations required to thrive on digital technology change. In his current role as Managing Partner, he leads DT’s Solutions and Consulting offerings to advise the world’s largest pharmaceutical firms on how to best achieve customer experience success through digital transformation. He also directs DT’s ongoing effort to provide the pharma industry with the most relevant insights on digital strategy, digital health, and organizational change.
Tim van Tongeren crc
Hannah Price crc

Hannah Price

Senior Director

Hannah has more than a decade of experience working with commercial and technology leaders focused on digital and customer experience transformation. She advises organizations on how to evolve their customer offering to take advantage of digital capabilities and develop the internal competencies required to effect this transformation. In her current role as Director of Customer Experience, she leads DT’s customer experience practice, guiding the world’s largest pharmaceutical firms towards creating deliberate, holistic experiences for customers that leverage digital channels and deliver business value.

New CXQ® Global HCP Data Report​

For the first time, DT Consulting has produced an extended CXQ® data set that is being made available for purchase. The new CXQ® Global HCP Data Report provides an extended look at the themes covered in The State Of Customer Experience In The Global Pharmaceutical Industry, 2022: HCP Interactions report, offering a unique level of insight into the nuances of CX in pharma.

It will offer:

  • Company benchmarks by relevance, simplicity, and trust
  • CXQ® scores for all digital and non-digital channels
  • HCPs’ channel preferences for different types of content
  • And much more…

For more information on the new CXQ® Global HCP Data Report, email:

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