Flow to grow: transform into a customer-centric organization

Flow to grow: transform into a customer-centric organization


By: Olly Johnston, President Customer Experience

Pharmaceutical companies are making the major shift from brand-centric to customer-centric marketing. With the rise of digital technologies and the increasing availability of data, we are now able to engage with customers in more personalized and targeted ways.

Understanding customer flow is one of the most critical factors in developing effective customer-centric marketing strategies. A smooth and efficient customer flow can be a key differentiator, especially in a world of increasingly commoditized brands/products, and it can provide a significant competitive advantage.

The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.

Walt Disney

We’ve had success using four simple yet effective steps to achieve optimal customer flow, which we outline below.

  1. Identify a specific customer
    Seems obvious, right? But we know from direct experience that using generic customers or grouping together different customer segments is more common than you might think. Doing so can waste valuable time, and thus money, while doing a disservice to your customer’s unique experience.

    Identify a short list of prioritized actionable customer segments and build out a journey for each. Go beyond the typical 3 to 5 customer segments and look for deeper data driven segments. This helps to ensure that insights are actionable and facilitates the delivery  of the personalization needed to improve the customer experience. A one size fits all experience fails to engage, does not feel intuitive or relevant to the customer and this misses the benefits of personalization or ability to collect meaningful ongoing data to optimize activity.

    One of our clients shared an experience they had with an agency where pharmacists, health care providers and payors were lumped into a single segment for a customer experience planning workshop. Needless to say the output of the session failed to address the different needs of each of audience or uncover actional insights upon which to base future activity.

  2. Document and standardize the customer experience
    A smooth customer flow starts with a thorough understanding of their experience, and then documenting it for ongoing optimization. Know their flow, from initial awareness and engagement to product purchase, use and retention. With that knowledge, you can then assess for potential pain points and focus your innovation on the details that make their experience more memorable.

    An increasing trend in the industry is to centralize and standardize the way customer journey mapping is done. Often this responsibility resides within the customer insights team, it is important to translate insights into a full experience and then have the capability to standardize journey mapping approaches is vital. Consider an agency partner with expertise in customer journey mapping, as well as an obsession with data mining for customer insights. By doing so, you can confidently put in place an approach that can consistently identify highly valuable personalized experiences.

  3. Identify pain points as opportunities
    Know each step in the flow as this enables you to understand how your customers think and, more importantly, feel, which is an often-overlooked driver in changing their behavior.

    Are they frustrated or delighted with the current experience? If frustrated, fix the issue, then track and measure the progress.  If delighted, look for learnings to apply to the broader experience. Small interventions and optimizations can incrementally improve flow significantly.

    Employ a problem-solving approach like design thinking with a partner who has demonstrated success in this area. They can help further defining the problem, generate ideas to prototype and test solutions, and in turn improve the customer flow.

  4. Validate the customer flow
    You’ve learned about and listened to your customers, conducted the research with your cross-functional team, and have adapted the flow accordingly. Now comes the last step in mapping customer flow: validate it directly with your customers. The earlier you can put your flow in front of the customer to determine whether a newly designed experience address previous pain points and improves the treatment journey, the better. In our experience, you will always discover key areas for improvement that might have been overlooked. In addition, it allows you to involve customers throughout the process, leading to increased customer loyalty and advocacy as well as providing them with a sense of ownership.

In summary, success in integrated customer experiences is achieved by adaptability, smart partnerships, and forward-thinking strategies, with customer flow just one step in the overall process. In the next article, we’ll dig into data optimization and ways to leverage customer data to improve flow and measure success.