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Nov 2, 2023

Why a CDP + CRM is the Right Prescription for Pharma & Life Sciences

According to an EPG Health survey, pharma companies have major challenges when it comes to digital engagements with healthcare professionals (HCPs), a designation that includes physicians, nurses, pharmacists and other healthcare providers. A majority of pharma companies (77 percent) say they face a major difficulty providing real value, and 63 percent struggle to provide an effective customer experience (CX).

Customer relationship management (CRM) software has been a vital tool for pharmaceutical and life sciences field reps for many years, but the reason many reps struggle to provide value and/or an effective customer experience has a lot to do with access to HCPs trending toward digital-first encounters across multiple channels.

A CRM is an extremely valuable planning tool, indispensable for providing rich account details – a call report, product information (including indications, contraindications, dosages, side effects, and clinical trial data), sample management and tracking, sales data, prescribing patterns, adverse event reporting, scientific events and conferences, etc. – but a CRM is also limited in its ability to guide an omnichannel customer journey. A CRM may, for example, show a detailed history of an account’s calls and visits, with notes, action items, and follow-ups, but it will not incorporate an HCP’s real-time website activity, nor use that activity to guide a customer journey across all channels.

This is not to fault a CRM, it’s only to point out that the solution was designed and intended for human-driven campaigns, focused almost entirely on human-driven channels for outreach. In the life sciences industry, that mostly means in-person visits, calls and email. In addition to web activity, a CRM is not intended as a destination source for a digital or mobile platform.

The offshoot is an incomplete view of the HCP, which may translate into an inferior customer experience simply because a field rep lacks a full breadth of understanding. When managing a human relationship extends to managing interactions beyond a handful of channels, a CRMs limitations are laid bare: it doesn’t handle automation requirements, and without a full understanding of an HCP across the entire channel ecosystem it will be of limited value in keeping pace with a customer journey.

Deepen the HCP Relationship with a CDP

An increase in digital-first interactions and the pressure to provide an effective customer experience explain why life sciences companies are turning to customer data platforms (CDPs) as a complement to a CRM solution.

If managing a relationship with a customer is a primary CRM use case, a CDP takes it a step further – improving the relationship by creating a unified customer profile and making it fit-for-purpose for any engagement channel – website, mobile app, email, contact center and CRM as both a source and a destination channel.

With access to a unified profile that is updated in real time – without IT and without manual entry – a field rep making an office visit will have a holistic view of not only interactions on every channel, but an understanding of the interplay between those interactions and how that influences the customer journey. How soon after downloading a meta-analysis did a doctor review the product information, or use a cardiovascular disease risk calculator? How would the marketing team segment the HCPs that are more likely to prescribe to target them for a launch of new medication?

With insight into behaviors across all channels, medical reps and pharma marketing professionals have a firmer grasp on customer intent and can be more proactive in how they manage the customer relationship.

A CDP and a Complete, Contextual Understanding

A CDP provides a more complete view of the relationship by managing the data that supports the relationship. CRM data is one source of HCP data, but a CDP builds a unified customer profile by ingesting all forms and types of data, cleansing it, normalizing it and performing identity resolution to resolve an identity at the individual or business level. In life sciences, this level of advanced identity resolution could mean having a profile of a physician, nurse, or pharmacist as an individual, and basing certain interactions with that understanding, but also knowing the makeup of the larger group or practice and marketing to an individual within that context. As a destination for the unified profile, the CRM is then working with an accurate, updated and complete record for the customer, providing the user with a much more complete contextual understanding.

A complete, robust CDP will also perform data enrichment, i.e., firmographic data, surge information or any third-party information that might help add to the CRM record, such as in the case of identity resolution in a B2B context. Also included in the enrichment category – and typically beyond the scope of a CRM – are calculation modeling, i.e, interests, affinity, predictive models around viewing or prescribing habits, etc. Based on that deep customer understanding, a CDP is able to identify the next-best action and communication channel for each HCP or patient. Whether that is used to automate website personalization or to enhance one-to-one conversations, a CDP applies a holistic approach to consumer experience.

A CRM is an invaluable tool for field reps in managing a relationship with an HCP. With a CDP creating a real-time, unified customer profile that includes all there is to know about an HCP, pharma reps and marketing professionals are poised to manage the relationship at an entirely different level, delivering hyper-relevant experiences across the customer journey.

Steve Zisk 2022 Scaled

Veronica Gosselin

Healthcare Marketing Strategist Redpoint Global

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