Customer Engagement is key to Boost your sales
According to Forbes, 84% of companies that work to improve their customer experience and engagement strategies report an increase in their revenue. Besides boosting revenue and sales, customer engagement facilitates long-term benefits such as:
- Promoting brand loyalty – Customers that receive special attention and personalized engagement tend to return to the said brand more often with less engagement. Brands that engage with customers regularly build a strong relationship with their target audience. A study by Brand Keys shows that a loyalty increase of 7% can increase the lifetime value of a customer by 85%; even a loyalty increase as small as 3% can lower company costs by 10%.
- Increasing brand recall – Effective customer engagement strategies create a strong brand presence. Consistent engagement with the consumer makes the brand a part of its consumer’s day-to-day routine and increases brand recall value in the long run.
- Giving the brand a competitive edge – According to a survey by Salesforce called ‘The State of the Connected Customer,’ 54% of customers think that companies need to change the way they engage with their customers. Enhancing the customer’s experience ensures giving the brand an edge over competitors.
- Improving customer retention – Engaging with the audience improves customer retention considerably. A study by Harvard Business School states that a mere 5% increase in customer retention rate can increase profit anywhere from 25-95%.
#WHAT is customer engagement?
Customer engagement is all the possible ways you can interact with your customers. The goal is that these interactions are fruitful and make customers feel good about the brand and act positively towards it. The interaction must be seamless and channel agnostic creating a unique personalized experience
Examples: a visit from a rep to give more information, or attending a webinar or specific company training, or receiving newsletters in emails with links to websites, or a direct visit to the website, or a news or advertisement on social media, or a message from the rep to the mobile phone, and many more.
There are countless examples of customer engagement, but the key point is that companies that focus on customer engagement focus on value creation, not just on sales. They offer people something meaningful beyond a sales pitch: a brilliant end-to-end customer experience, great content, or real-time, interactive customer service.
Always thinking about Why the customer wants to contact me, having a clear purpose.
WHY does it matter?
Customers are looking for unique experiences and solutions, so companies need to start thinking in that regard: a brand/product becomes a carrier of a solution
To do this, the first thing to achieve is attraction. Connect with them in an appropriate, effective, and meaningful way.
Nowadays, it's not just the endorsements of KOLs and brand ambassadors that need to be worked on - thanks to social media and mobile phones, companies and brands need to be always connected, ready to take advantage of opportunities to engage with customers anytime, anywhere.
It is very important to target the right audiences, through the right channel at the right time, and to provide compelling content and reasons for customers to engage, so that they want to.
#HOW to succeed with an omni-channel customer relationship
Even before the pandemic, 9 out of 10 consumers wanted an omni-channel experience with seamless service across communication channels.
It is important to consider how and where customers interact with the company, in the digital and physical world, and create an omni-channel engagement strategy to deliver a consistent service across all channels.
And, of course, remember that customers are the ones who will determine how they want to be contacted. Even if you want to have a concrete strategy, you need to make sure that it is what your customers want. By doing so, we can also start thinking of helping them do the same with their patients.
There are a few things to consider when planning a successful customer engagement campaign:
- Identify the objective to achieve
- Know the customer journey - What are our customers looking for?
- Select the right channels for each one - Are these channels where HCPs want to interact with us?
- Prepare attractive content
- Offer a personalized service (segmentation: persona, advocacy…)
- Use analytics, based on a solid meta-data tagging strategy aligned with your customer engagement model, to periodically review and quickly see what is working and what is not and make corrective decisions without delay.
#Focusing more on Life sciences industries
The relationship between the pharmaceutical industry and HCPs was not as expected.
HCPs are getting busier and have less and less time to devote to reps with single minded one-size fits all messages, while at the same time they are getting younger and want to have a better work-life balance.
Even though it is one of the most technologically advanced industries, this is not reflected in the HCP - Sales reps relationship, where this has always remained traditional, without innovation.
This relationship will no longer be 100% face-to-face, but the transition, which has been abrupt due to COVID, must be smoother to succeed. A good user experience is key to wider adoption. For that purpose, they will need to be upskilled giving them the competencies and capabilities to navigate confidently within this complex on and -offline ecosystem.
#If we look in depth at point 4 – Content
Digital engagement requires a more scalable and agile approach to content that allows reps to deliver fast, highly personalized information to HCPs. Modular content is a great solution for this.
Traditionally, content was offered in its entirety, and each time it had to be built from scratch. Now, modular content allows to work with pre-worked content in a more fragmented and durable way, which on the one hand aids consumption and retention, while at the same time streamlining "small" content creation and avoiding work overload. Less content, more micronized, delivered in a fragmented way, easier to retain and focus the message. Modular content also makes it easier to customize campaigns for different audiences and channels.
Having this modular content allows a more frequent contact with the customer by optimizing reps’ face-to-face visits and thus engaging in relevant and useful conversations with HCPs at the right time. It saves time not having to explain the content, send it previously, and having enough information to talk about it, and make better sales decisions.
In the pharmaceutical industry, strict compliance requirements make content approval workflows difficult and complicated, and modular content also offers significant advantages by streamlining these approvals (less content, faster).
We mustn't forget that Content is the "King" and Storytelling is the "Queen". Stories connect with people.
Which are the most common mistakes when embarking in this omnichannel transformational journey?
Neglecting the need for change management, connecting with the people from the start of this change, what are we going to do, how and what is the place of these functions, balancing the rational and emotional parts, listening to the people, all the insights they can provide.
The easiest part is the activation of the channel, but we must be sure that our strategy is aligned with the new channel. What do we need to get the advocacy, which kind of content and then which kind of channels to use for that, and being sure to have the right capabilities to achieve it? And measure everything.
#WHY this new relationship must start with a well-trained field force
You can't think about, and start, a customer engagement campaign without first changing the management process and then, planning a deep training of your reps, medicals, regulatory, ...
Changing the management process is not only about rational, but emotionally and how we will do it.
Training is very important, but it is not only about skills and knowledge, but how we use that in front of the customers, it is about the application of that knowledge and skills (performance development) in front of the customer.
This training needs to cover the following points:
- Technology expertise
- Understanding each customer journey and preferences
- Knowing the content and message approach’s subtle differences for each channel.
- Learn another approach to the face-to-face visit by having more information about the HCP and more time for discussion and selling rather than explaining the message.
Reps must also have to be able to answer almost any kind of questions from their customers to have a trusted relationship and improve the engagement. They don't just need to know the message that has to work on that moment, they must be able to answer anything at any time, so they need to be continuously trained.
- Why product A is better than B,C,D,E,F,G ....)
- How can I use product A if I also use X,Y,Z,...?
- Can I use product A if ..........?
- What would happen in case of over/lower dose?
- Why study H data better than in study K?
- Why do my patients with product A suffer from .....?
- Why should I use product A instead of product B if it is already proven and cheaper?
#HOW to train and engage with new technologies
It is very important to align both, the customer engagement strategy, and the training of sales representatives. For this reason, and to ensure greater success, one way proposed is to use the same tools for both objectives, achieving parallel mastery of them on both sides.
Omni-channel model involves using different channels, some of them traditional, such as face-to-face visits, some digital, but which due to the pandemic are considered more familiar, such as webinars, some to be greatly improved as has been seen in post-pandemic studies, such as video calls, and other new ones to stand out from the competition.
We will focus on the latter, and on Gamification.
One of the most prominent employee training and engagement strategies to emerge in recent years is gamification. It consists in the process of adding game elements to things that are not normally considered "games", using similar structures to achieve training, and learning outcomes through fun and challenging formats.
In the case of corporate training, gamification adds points, badges, and other game-like features to otherwise traditional training courses and modules, giving people a new way to learn.
Field Force training today is a far cry from the boring seminars and training meetings of decades ago. Today, employees want more, and companies know they must approach engagement from a new perspective.
Gamified learning offers an effective combination of exploration, investigation, and storytelling to help engage learners. Representatives and HCPs who are used to slow, boring and bland training programs will find gamified learning less time-consuming and painful and will come away feeling that their professional development is important to the organization, in both cases, employees and customers
The best thing about gamification is the use of motivational elements and arguments that keep learners engaged and working towards a set goal. Unlike traditional click-through or instructor-led training, gamified training uses a story as a backbone that leads the learner through a variety of challenges and obstacles to stimulate learning.
There are three key elements to consider when thinking about delivering a fully gamified experience:
- Set clear objectives for the audience. Objectives should be evident to the audience in the early stages of the training-engaging program to guide their focus and help them visualize their end goal.
- Challenges that the audiences must overcome to achieve their objectives. This is where most of the learning takes place. Sitting in meetings is a thing of the past. People today want to take an active role in their career and education. People learn best by doing and gamification motivates everyone to act.
- Rewards and incentives that motivate the learners. When people feel engaged and rewarded for their efforts, they learn faster and are more eager to learn. This can be something as simple as a motivational message to something more complex, such as a ranking or even a gift.
With gamification, it has been proven that learning is accelerated, and people can retain information better than in a traditional training class or seminar.
Gamification is a great way to take sales reps’ training and HCPs engagement to a whole new level.
Gamification has a neurological impact on people. Dopamine and serotonin, the feel-good and mood hormone respectively, are released whenever a specific action is rewarded, and causes the action, such as learning, to be associated with positive emotions, which help people to continue playing the game, seeking for more information and more reward.
The control of the stress hormone - cortisol levels, and the release of endorphins also play an important role in reducing stress and anxiety and even creating a sense of euphoria, together helping to create an ideal environment for focused learning.
Playing keeps the brain fit and several studies have shown that play can improve brain function. Due to its success in learning, the scientific community is increasingly conducting research into the power of play in other scenarios that are not really playable at all.
In conclusion, Customer Engagement has always been key but now it must change in the way of personalizing content and channels to each customer, and to be successful in it, companies have to prepare all the employees giving them the capabilities needed to contact each customer giving them value and helping them in this new journey.