Customer Engagement – By Fred Marshall
How do we empower sales teams to create better results?
- Fewer in-person meetings
- More digital channels
- More digital content
- More AI tools
- More complex dashboards
- More stakeholders to engage and influence
The question is: How do we empower our customer-facing teams to leverage all the new digital tools, content and channels to drive growth and create a better treatment experience than the competition?
Join Our LTEN Webinar
Want to hear more? Fred Marshall of Quantum Learning will be leading an LTEN webinar on Tuesday, Sept. 19.
Click here to register for Engaging HCPs in an AI-Powered, Omnichannel World. The webinar will begin at 12:30 p.m. ET and is free to everyone.
New Mindsets and New Workflows
The pandemic gave us a taste of what the new omnichannel reality might look like: Zoom calls have surpassed in-person engagement. Representative-triggered emails and text messages have replaced physician handouts and reprint carriers.
In the past 18 months we crossed a digital tipping point:
- Digital engagement now outnumbers in-person engagement in quantity and quality, but not impact. That’s the rub.
- Healthcare providers (HCPs) are now flooded with more digital contentacross more channels than ever before, but behaviors change slower thanever.
The digital transformation is inevitable, but we need to move from delivering digital content to changing HCP behavior. If it doesn’t change behavior, it doesn’t matter.
Better Workflows Deliver Better Outcomes
Enter better workflows. Imagine following reps around their home office, scheduling appointments, doing VEEVA Engage calls, riding in the car, meeting face-to-face with customers, calling and texting HCPs, and then back home responding to emails and planning the next day. You’ll find a big gap between top and middle performers.
It used to be: How big is your footprint in the practice?
Now it’s: How big is your footprint across all the channels that impact HCP mindset, behavior and experience?
We need to reimagine targeting, reach and frequency through the lens of high-impact content delivered consistently across every stakeholder through their preferred channels in an AI-informed predictive analytics context.
That’s a mouthful, but it boils down to five things: strategy, teamwork, activation, resolving barriers and securing commitment.
A Simple Framework for Transformational Change
Ironically, all the new AI tools, dashboards, digital content, new channels and stakeholders are overwhelming instead of empowering our customer-facing teams. The solution is to give our customer-facing teams a simple framework they can use to do five important things:
- Develop a strategy for change that will work inside the customer’s world. Whether it’s a physician, a mid-level, a nurse practitioner or a reimbursement specialist, for change to happen inside the four walls of an account, we need a simple strategy customers resonate with.
- Foster an entirely new level of teamwork and collaboration between all members of our customer-facing teams to deliver a seamless customer experience for the physician, the patient and the practice.
- Activate change. For HCPs to change behavior, we need to give them clear, credible and compelling reasons in a format that resonates and is actionable. And it needs to be seamless and consistent across every channel of engagement.
- Resolve barriers to change. Even if you want to change, barriers, friction and complexity can conspire to thwart the change process. We used to believe that strong motivation would overcome any barrier. We now know better. Amazon has trained the world to expect everything to be seamless and simple. One click and delivered the next day. That’s the new benchmark everything is unconsciously compared to whether we like it or not.
- Secure commitment to change. Information and education are not enough to drive change. You must ask for a meaningful commitment that moves the needle. And once achieved, we must take action to make sure it doesn’t drift back to the status quo. Sustainability should never be an afterthought. It should be baked into step one: Strategy.
How do we achieve that? Here is a bit more detail on how to simplify change through better teamwork, collaboration and omnichannel customer engagement.
At the end of the day, only two questions matter:
- Did it change HCP behavior?
- Did it create a better end-to-end experience than the competition?
Strategy is about using our dashboards, good probing strategies, AI predictive analytics and sharing key insights across the customer engagement team to articulate what needs to change and how you’ll change it to achieve those twin goals. Strategy is about leveraging the best available insights to:
- Articulate what needs to change at the individual, account and even ecosystem level to move the needle for the brand and create better end-to-end treatment experiences than the competition.
- Define how you’re going to change it at every level: the individual HCP level, the account as a system of care level, treatment protocols, simplifying reimbursement or key stakeholders in the larger ecosystem.
- Deciding what high-impact content to share across what HCP-preferred channels in what sequence and for how long.
Because treatment choice and treatment experience happen across many stakeholders who touch the patient, we need to work together like never before to create a more integrated and seamless customer experience than the competition. And that requires a higher level of teamwork and collaboration.
Transformational change is a team sport. It’s one thing to get an individual HCP to change. It’s quite another to get an account-as-a-system of care to change. As the saying goes, “You need teamwork to make the dream work.”
Risk managers, reps, district managers, even medical science liaisons all have a role to play in the larger change strategy. And even though most people get the need to work together as a team to affect change, hardly anyone does it well. It’s an opportunity to beat the competition for those who make deep collaboration, seamless integration and teamwork a priority.
Delivering the right content in the right way to the right people at the right time is the heartbeat that drives transformational change.
Cadence is key. Repetition, essential.
Like AI, we are training the healthcare provider’s neural network to think and act in a new way:
If this… in this context… prescribe that … because…clinical evidence, patient impact.
It’s a kind of machine learning in the human brain. And for those of you who are freaking out right now, this is nothing new. AI works because it models the human neural net, not the other way around.
Omnichannel activation is essential across in-person, Zoom, VEEVA Engage, text, webinar and more. High-impact content delivered through the HCP’s preferred channels is what it’s all about, but in a way that is clear, credible and compelling.
Resolving Barriers to Change
Activating the need to change with clear, credible and compelling content is the starting point, but we need to do more. We need to keep our eyes open to barriers to change of any kind, such as mental barriers, protocol barriers, friction and complexity.
Anything and everything that gets in the way of change must be handled or behavior change comes to a screeching halt. We used to call this objection handling, but we now know that objections are only one kind of barrier to change.
Some of this can be done preemptively through omnichannel education, but a lot of it boils down to reading the HPC’s reaction, asking the right questions and not making assumptions.
Ultimately, the goal is to create a simple and seamless total treatment experience for every stakeholder along the continuum of care for your brand. A simple and seamless patient journey wins the day.
Securing Commitment to Change
It’s one thing to get an HCP nodding in agreement. It’s another thing to get them to commit to change. It’s kind of like the difference between “what do you think about marriage?” and “will you marry me?” Those two questions create very different outcomes.
Asking for an incremental commitment is a simple but powerful strategy for creating forward momentum without overwhelming the customer. It’s a lot easier to say yes to “would you like to grab a cup of coffee?” than “what are you doing for the rest of your life?”
Having achieved an incremental commitment, like “will you read this new clinical study?” is a good thing, but you have to follow up and make sure they actually read it. Why? Because life gets in the way.
Building pull-through and sustainability from the beginning is essential for securing commitment to change. It should be baked into our strategy for change from the start.
Summary and Conclusion
The rules of customer engagement are changing. We’ve crossed a digital tipping point.
Omnichannel customer engagement is the new normal but, as we’ve seen, we need to move from delivering digital content to creating digital impact. Because if it doesn’t change behavior – and create a better treatment experience than the competition – it truly doesn’t matter.
Omnichannel customer engagement is a powerful strategy to effect behavior change and move the needle for your brands. It’s a brave new world that requires better workflows to deliver better outcomes and create a seamless experience for all the stakeholders who touch the patient for our brands.
Fred Marshall is CEO and founder of Quantum Learning. Email Fred at email@example.com.