The Importance of Deep Customer Knowledge in Pharma
by Jeffrey Freedman & Erin Reilly
Pharmaceutical companies produce and sell medicines and healthcare products to improve people’s health. Therefore, the need to thoroughly understand their customers—including patients, healthcare providers, payers, and distributors—is critical for their developing effective products, building customer loyalty, and improving healthcare outcomes.
A missed or compromised customer need in healthcare can have life-or-death consequences. For this reason, a comprehensive understanding of customers and their needs must be considered paramount in every aspect of product development, even as these pharma companies navigate through the obstacles unique to this industry.
- A complex regulatory environment: The regulatory environment for pharmaceutical companies is complex and requires strict adherence to rules and guidelines. Exceptional companies successfully navigate this complexity while understanding customer needs and regulatory requirements, resulting in safe and effective products.
- Numerous specialized target markets: The healthcare industry is highly specialized, with various areas of expertise and an extensive range of products and services. Pharmaceutical companies must comprehend the distinct needs of their customers, which may include healthcare providers, distributors, insurance companies, pharmacists, patients, and caregivers. These customers all have unique requirements and expectations, and it is crucial that pharmaceutical companies customize their products and services to fulfill those needs.
- High customer emotions: Unlike other industries, healthcare is an emotional and sensitive field. Patients and their families are dealing with serious and life-threatening conditions, and the decisions they make about their health will have a significant impact on their lives. Pharmaceutical companies must work with and through these customer emotions, armed with fact-driven insights derived from accredited sources, to ensure the match customer gets the right product at the right time in the right way. Compelling customer insight can be derived using algorithms applied to data collected from product testing, market research, and other continuous customer feedback loops. When customer insight is combined with extensive product knowledge, the pharmaceutical company can effectively articulate fact versus emotion and transfer this knowledge to its own customers via training, documentation, marketing, and advertising strategy. Maintaining a strong feedback process for customer data collection and analysis creates an environment of innovation, efficacy, and continuous improvement.
- Trust is paramount in the healthcare industry: Patients and healthcare providers must trust that pharmaceutical companies are developing safe, effective, and reliable products. Understanding the needs and concerns of customers is critical to building trust and establishing long-term relationships with patients and healthcare providers. A breach here can ruin corporate reputations quickly, so maintaining the platforms described above can make or break a company.
By developing and maintaining a strong process for collecting, analyzing, and deriving the deepest understanding of their customers—this is how good pharmaceutical companies become great. They consistently prioritize customer understanding and reevaluate to uncover new or changing unmet needs. This creates better products and services and, ultimately, improves healthcare outcomes.