Recently I’ve been thinking about customer experience. All my memories of the times it’s been great are related to the individuals representing the brand, not the brand itself. After all, if I buy a premium product, I expect it to work. It’s the extra human factor that adds joy. Last week I experienced some incredible customer service and it made me think again about the value of human communication and connection for business.
– Make sure the great awakening is not a rude awakening
– Why a website will never replace you where it counts
– The beauty of an open mind – experience versus expectation at an NHS A&E service
– Getting from metrics to insights in pharma
Make Sure the Great Awakening is not a Rude Awakening
You need good products, but you are nothing without good employees. A Swiss Key Opinion Leader once said to me, “I won’t remember the company you work for, but, if I enjoy working with you, I will work with you, regardless of your employer.” The absence of talent has been a topic for years. More recently with the great resignation/great awakening, the subject of keeping talent has come into sharp focus. Finding talent is time-consuming, nerve-wracking, frustrating and expensive.
So how can you ensure that your employee’s great awakening is not a rude awakening for you? Check in regularly. Take feedback seriously. Act upon things that you can change and be transparent about the things you cannot. Keep your word and if you cannot, communicate early. Manage expectations. People leave managers, not companies; they leave situations they have tried to change, but have not been able to. If you have a trusting, open, transparent relationship, your employees are unlikely to be tempted to move. We are all evolving and improving all the time. Or should be.
Accept that great managers are made, not born, although undoubtedly some are more talented at managing than others. Great leaders need nurturing and difficult situations are rarely the fault of only one party. Sometimes when situations are hard, you might hope that a team member will move on, but there is no guarantee that the person you replace them with will be a perfect fit. However, people do leave, and when that happens, use leaving interviews as an opportunity to learn more about the ‘why’ so you can improve your organisation.
Why a Website Will Never Replace you Where it Counts
When selecting a hotel, a restaurant or the garden of a stately home to visit, I habitually check online ratings. Over time, I have come to the conclusion that the ratings often tell me more about the rater than about the establishment being assessed. Then, last week as I wandered around Hidcote gardens, taking photographs and ignoring my low battery warning, my mobile phone’s battery died.
The Cotswolds are hard to navigate without Google Maps and at 5pm I had not booked a hotel for the night. I asked an employee of the gardens for directions to a nearby village. She reeled off a long complicated set of instructions, then, seeing my confusion, she said kindly: “Oh, I pass through it on my drive home so just follow me.” I ended up following her to my destination. When I got there, I stopped a couple of people on the street asking for hotel recommendations. Most were tourists and couldn’t help. But then the next person I talked to said “I am a tour guide”. She recommended a hotel in the next village, so I drove there and booked the last room they had available. The room was lovely, the food excellent and the employees extremely customer focused.
My hotel selection was less confusing than going online, faster – and the result was a better fit than many choices I have made on online portals. Years ago, in a job interview, I was asked, “As a doctor, what would you want from a pharma company, if you contacted us?” My response? “The right answer, at the time I am asking it, from a competent individual, or a great website.” After years of online chats, online searching and comparing options, I have come to the conclusion that for most of my needs, talking to a person is usually faster and more tailored.
At every conference I attend, a variation of the following question comes up: “Will AI replace me in the near future?” The answer is apparent in what is going on currently. Companies are reducing their field force, but they are expanding online consultation services in every field. Websites are great for simple answers, but, to date, in my experience, nothing beats a human for a fast and tailored experience.
The Beauty of an Open Mind – Experience Versus Expectation at an NHS A&E Service
Last week I met a number of NHS employees. They lamented the way the system works, its inefficiencies, and told me how they would welcome a transformation consultant coming to work with them, to help improve processes and efficiency. I also met a number of NHS patients, who told me how long they had to wait to be seen, the general inefficiency of the system, and that NHS doctors are trained to not treat, if possible, to save money.
Based on all the stories I was glad I didn’t need to depend on the NHS. Then, after a horse ride, I twisted my ankle, very badly. After four days of hobbling around I decided I might need an X-ray after all.
The North Cotswolds hospital was bright and clean. I was asked for my NHS number. I said I live abroad. They said never mind and wrote down my last UK address. The doctor saw me after 45 minutes and sent me for an X-ray. The whole experience took under 3 hours, which is comparable to Switzerland. I was impressed. Fast, friendly, competent. Not at all what I was expecting. I offered to pay for the service but I was told not to worry. The staff were courteous, professional, caring, and the hospital was excellent. The experience reminded me how important it is to keep an open mind in every situation.
Getting From Metrics to Insights in Pharma
Metrics are easy. Metrics are the stuff of KPIs. How many doctors and patients called? Call duration? Key topics? Materials used? How satisfied were customers? How long does it take for a service provider to pick up a phone? These numbers are used to charge a client, or to adapt the service. For example, repeat questions that are not in the prescribing information, might merely make you write a standard response document. A classic metrics-driven approach.
An insights driven approach would be to ask why? Why are doctors asking this now? A classic situation might be that a competitor has launched a product and doctors are assessing which product they want to use. Understanding the context of the question could dramatically change how you approach the situation. You might still write a standard response document, however, you might also identify that a multi-team, international approach could be beneficial.
Depending on the importance of the question, the lifecycle of the product, etc., various ways of addressing the topic beyond a standard response document might become apparent. You might write a publication or share data at an educational event. Or you might run an advisory board or liaise with your regulatory team, to assess the feasibility of adapting the PI.
Insights are considered to be hard to attain, although, insights are where the fun is at. While life science companies have a lot of data, they don’t regularly check the data in order to make decisions. While it’s not easy to change a company’s data practice I have three tips that will help you move beyond mere metrics to insights:
- Share knowledge: understand your market and what activities are ongoing with your customers that are led by other teams. Be connected and curious. Look beyond the ‘what’ to the ‘why’. Have regular cross-functional meetings to share key insights across teams.
- Single centre of truth: think beyond metrics, consider all the unstructured data that your company has, and think about how this can be made accessible for learning. Work towards having a single centre of truth: a central repository, or data lake, with all mixed, structured and unstructured data, word, pdf, images as well as internal financial or logistics data so that you can mine data and perform topic clustering of information, assess the sentiment being expressed across different data sources and so see what is emerging.
- Harmonise what you share: a single source of truth. If you can harmonise the key components of the scientific content you share, you will find identifying trends in new questions coming in will be easier.
I hope, as ever, that my blog provides you with some useful insights. I look forward to hearing your thoughts. And of course, if you have a challenging project or would like to discuss coaching to help you achieve that next level, do reach out and we can arrange to chat.
Very best wishes
Isabelle C. Widmer