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Pharma firms turn to customer journey mapping strategies

Business transformation, or its offspring–digital transformation–is sweeping across the pharma industry. In reality, most pharma companies been slower to embrace transformation than firms in many other industries, such as retail and CPG. Now pharma companies are either racing or at least marching double-time to catch up with new business models and customer expectations. As a result, creating and deploying multi-disciplinary customer journey teams, strategies and tools are significantly higher priority now and for the immediate future.

Many reasons explain why pharmas are relatively late to the game, and why they now are pushing ahead full force with customer experience (CX) efforts. The industry and its business processes are heavily regulated because its products, by definition, must be therapeutic, healing and lifesaving, but can become the opposite if something goes seriously wrong in the research, manufacturing and distribution processes.  It’s hard to embrace transformational change in such a heavily controlled environment. But pharma firms have no choice–the industry will undergo massive upheaval over the next five years as pharmas move to new direct to consumer business models (D2C); engage more directly with consumers through medical support staff and nurse advisors; engage with medical practitioners via video, virtual reality, AI tools and other technologies; and shift a significant amount of advertising dollars from television and print to social channels.

The complexity of the pharmaceutical and life sciences industries are depicted below. The modern world and customer expectations will force changes in the marketing channels, distribution channels and influencers shown in the diagram. But making these changes is next to impossible without having a clear understanding the interplay of the many shifts in consumer behaviors, the latest consumer expectations and emerging technologies.

 

The Pharma Marketing: Get Started on Creating Great Customer Experience with Journey Strategies research report explains how customer journey strategies are being applied in the pharma industry. This research report describes customer journey mapping and includes a hypothetical journey map for a fibromyalgia patient from diagnosis to successful treatment. In reality, a pharma company would have significantly more customer journey maps (in the hundreds) because of the complexity of its business process and business model. (However, these are highly confidential intellectual property so publishing actual maps is next to impossible.)  It’s also important to state that no firm–no matter how aggressive–would implement all of its customer journeys at once.  Instead, for example, a pharma company might first focus on the customer journey through e-mail, and then the journey via mobile, and next, the journey using social tools.

No matter what, it’s important to get moving if your pharma or life sciences company hasn’t yet focused on business or digital  transformation, and remaking the customer experience. The next five years will be make or break for the industry, so it’s crucial not to be left behind.

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