My aunt, her iPad and customer engagement insights

I hope you are making great strides in your goals towards the end of the year. If you need support to meet your targets or to prepare for 2024 I’d love to discuss how I can help you.

Today’s blog is focused on learning in all its many forms.

Today’s topics:

-My aunt, her iPad and customer engagement insights
-Trust and postgraduate training
-The airpod odyssey and a problem-solving lesson
-Leadership – how to use your insights to make an impact

My aunt, her iPad and customer engagement insights

“So here is the house” my aunt said, adding “they have taken out the palm tree since this photo was taken”. She continued “this is the walk I used to do every day it’s only a short walk from the house to the ocean”. As she spoke, her finger traced the road on google Streetview taking me on a tour of Island Bay in New Zealand.

My aunt is 87 years old. She raised children and worked most of her life as a homemaker. She plays bridge on her computer. She uses Zoom and Facetime. She is adept at using a computer, an iPhone, an iPad and obviously google maps. She stays in contact with her family around the world thanks to technology.

Watching her finger zoom down the road and rotate us left and right so we could see into people’s yards and see restaurant terraces she liked, and the view of the ocean, highlighted something that is often forgotten: A key predictor of ability is curiosity, need and interest in the subject. Some people are always learning, some people stop learning as adolescents.

Age does not translate to computer illiteracy, as little as youth translates to a love of all things technological.  

What does this mean for you in the industry?

For hiring and managing individuals: interest, curiosity and engagement may be more mportant predictors of future performance and the ability to develop than what is written on the CV. 

For patient engagement: Patients, like doctors, are not a homogeneous group. Being a  patient doesn’t mean you do not understand your disease, as little as being a doctor guarantees  comprehensive knowledge about every medical condition.

For HCP engagement topics: Do not make assumptions about your customers.  By all means consider your HCPs speciality, their geographical location, their language and culture, as you reflect on how to meet their needs, but check your assumptions and be open-minded. Keep in mind that data can sometimes lead to incorrect conclusions.

For example, it may be tempting to infer that because two nations embrace technology, they will welcome the same engagement channels. In one instance, a company attempted to engage with Japanese HCPs using video chat in Medical Affairs, after successfully launching this engagement channel in the US. Unfortunately, because even amongst family members video engagement was not customary at the time, there was no uptake. 

Words of wisdom from my friend Natasha Hansjee, who was cited as having said the following during an omnichannel customer engagement webinar she spoke at “are we asking HCPs what they want?” That is it in a nutshell. Make sure you are. 

Key take-aways: Look at the data, draw conclusions question your assumptions and ask your stakeholders what their needs are before you roll anything out. Be aware of bias and never discount the power of a curious mind. 

Trust and postgraduate training

I have a deep interest in continued education. I also have experience in the field having worked as programme director at the European Center for Pharmaceutical Medicine at Basel University on the postgraduate course.

In recent months the number of available online training courses has grown rapidly. A vast global audience of learners needs to be catered and many reputable universities are now involved in these programmes.

This year I have taken a number of training courses. This article is dedicated to one of them. According to the course brochure the course is run by a university that is world renowned in the field. The brochure states that the faculty will be providing recorded lectures, and training is supported by industry experts. The topic interests me, the university is world famous, and I sign up on a whim due to the university’s reputation and the expertise of the faculty.

Once I am signed-up it transpires that the course, beyond pre-recorded lectures provided by the university faculty, and all live engagement is provided by a secondary non-US based institution. While this institution has its own academic faculty, it is not officially recognized as an academic institution. Furthermore, the experts responsible for mentoring students have no affiliation with the university whose name is on the course brochure. 

I am currently disappointed by what I am experiencing, although some lectures are very good, so I am cautiously optimistic that the experience may improve.

In the meantime, as signing up for training is a financial and time commitment, here are my recommendations on what to ask before you sign up:

  1. Who is the faculty? University, industry experts, others?
  2. Who generates and controls the content?
  3. Who engages on assignments and mentors you?
  4. Is there another organisation involved in delivering the course, what is their engagement?
  5. What are the refund options

Since the answers to these questions may not be readily apparent from the course materials it is advisable to thoroughly investigate.

Key take-away: When considering paying for an online course be sure to investigate what you are subscribing to before enrolling.

The airpod odyssey and a problem-solving lesson
A friend left his airpod case on the train. He said “I guess I will just buy a new one, even though I know where it is”  as he tapped his iPhone.
Curious to see how good the tracker is, and wondering if we can retrieve the case, I drive him to the indicated location: the local train depot. Unfortunately, the case is not at lost and found and we decide, in my case reluctantly, that we cannot search the building. But then the tracker shows us that the case is on the move again. We follow its progress down the motorway towards Rheinfelden and across the border into Germany. There the dot stops.
My friend is ready to give up but provides the location when I ask him. Moments later I am leaving a message on the answering machine of the person listed at the address. My friend says, “Oh I didn’t know you can find someone’s phone number that way”. It made me smile. 
 I offer a finder’s fee but nobody calls me back so ultimately we accept defeat.  
Key take-away: You may not know a fast solution to your problem, because you don’t know the language, the culture, the country or that the tools exist. However, almost always someone else does and that information is available to you if you are willing to have a conversation.  

Leadership – how to use your insights to make an impact

Metrics are important, insights are important, but neither have value unless you know how to use the information to change and improve your business and that often involves convincing senior budget holders of the validity of your approach first.

At a conference recently someone presented the workload involved in pulling together content manually across geographies. She said, “wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could automate this, it takes so much time”.

I asked her why they hadn’t automated the activity. I cannot remember her answer, but the one I most frequently receive when I ask that question is  “We couldn’t make a change because we can’t get the budget”.

I suggested she show her leadership team the financial impact of the current situation and the potential savings automation could bring reframing her need to meet their need. 

Key take-way:  Different things matter to different people, improving financial outcomes and business engagement generally matters to budget holders, if you can frame your need in that context, you are more likely to succeed.

Thank you for reading, the end of the year is nigh, if you are looking to solve an issue before 31st December or to prepare for next year I’d love to discuss how I can help you either with your business strategy and operations or with your team and personal development goals.

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Isabelle C. Widmer MD

Image credit: Isabelle C. Widmer