In the world of oncology treatments, customer-facing teams can’t expect a single account visit or virtual information session to have a significant impact on uptake.
Oncologists are notoriously difficult to access, and they rely heavily on insights from nurses, colleagues, and key opinion leaders (KOLs) when making treatment decision options. They also respond to customer service experiences they encounter with different pharmaceutical roles, including how efficiently the company answers their medical questions, helps them identify and support patients, and connects them with peers.
To be successful in this environment, commercial and medical teams cannot rely on generic engagement tactics. They need to provide a more comprehensive experience that factors all of the oncologist’s needs into every interaction through an orchestrated engagement strategy. This comprehensive approach to engagement spans personal and non-personal touchpoints, and balances the account’s priorities against their unique information needs. This approach enables the selection of the appropriate tactics for each patient, and leads to better quality engagement.
At the same time, value is increasingly concentrated in fewer, larger accounts. Strategic team planning is needed with a broader understanding of total accounts’ priorities and opportunities, balanced with the oncologist’s information needs, to support better quality engagement.
Why current engagement is challenging
In the high-stakes world of oncology treatments, it is not unusual for pharma companies to have 10 or more roles servicing the same account, spanning sales, medical, marketing, market access, and clinical areas. Oncology account managers (OAMs), clinical nurse educators (CNEs), field reimbursement managers, medical science liaisons (MLSs), key account managers (KAMs), and various account directors make up these teams. Each of them will have some contact with oncologists and their teams, as well as KOLs and other stakeholders relevant to the account.
These different roles have different needs, but because they rarely work in concert or understand how they fit in overall strategic plans, it makes it difficult to deliver a seamless engagement experience. That results in:
- Working within fragmented go-to-market models and reporting structures
- Difficulty with patient identification and capturing and understanding complexities of the patient and commercial pathways
- Limited visibility into who’d seen which customers in the past 30 days, what they talked about, and what actions they took in response
- Lack of support for KAM-based commercial models, and the ability to track formulary approval
- Consistent benchmarking against competing products in the market
- Understanding real-time account level execution and performance, including reach, frequency, and sampling, to monitor the oncology commercial processes
- Insufficient data capture tools, requires constant data entry, and limits the ability to share and update as a team
While most companies believe in a coordinated approach to account management and the need for more of customer-centricity in their engagement strategy, few have the technology, data or planning processes needed to enable this level of adaptability across multiple roles.
Orchestration is the solution
Addressing these pain points presents an opportunity for companies to deliver highly personalized customer service experiences that make oncologists and KOLs feel that their exact needs are being met. However, it is only possible if all of these team members work in concert, adapting to each other’s activities in a carefully coordinated way. Such synchronous activity can be achieved through an orchestrated engagement model that is powered by data, analytics, and a shared technology platform compliantly designed to keep everyone updated in real-time.
It is a model that customer facing teams have always wanted. They know that their efforts would be better served if they knew exactly what information was captured in every previous customer connection and how their individual activities fit in the overall strategic objectives and tactics. But without advanced technology platforms, this kind of data sharing is nearly impossible. It requires constant updates shared between multiple team members, each of whom has their own tasks and teams to take care of.
Though what if the results of every customer engagement could easily be captured and shared with the team? And what if each role could see suggestions for the next best activity, and receive triggers related to patient identification and assigned tasks based on newly gathered information? It would transform the customer-facing team dynamic and provide each member with the knowledge they need to make every engagement more impactful.
What good looks like
When considering the move to a more collaborative orchestrated solution, pharma companies should consider ‘what good looks like’ for their customers and resources; then use that profile to determine which tools and platforms best fit these needs without sacrificing time, incurring costs, and creating future technological debt.
The best platforms will support versatile and agile go-to-market models with purpose-built functionality for different roles that allow for easy collaboration and orchestration. This will lead to a number of benefits, including:
- Increased levels of customer-centricity
- Optimization of time in the field
- Improved customer engagements per field team member and each touchpoint
- More impactful interactions
- Clarity around individual tactics in relation to strategic objectives
- Enhanced internal coordination and orchestration
- Improved differentiation and impact
- Maximized opportunities with each customer
These platforms also ensure that every role is working in the best interests of the patients, the physicians, and their own bottom line.
Customer-facing teams can’t expect a single physician or KOL visit to have a significant impact on uptake. But with the right tools, they can make the best use of their limited access and provide better quality customer-centric engagement, getting them one step closer to their strategic objectives.
The current COVID-19 pandemic is driving the most significant example of rapid and disruptive changing realities we’ve ever seen, and we’ve got to adapt. Commercial engagement tactics have to change, and we need new objectives and strategies to support customers and measure the impact of these efforts. While the right path forward is still unclear, companies that invest in underlying platforms that allow for quick pivoting will be better able to support their customers and deliver better market results.