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The Way Forward: Building Stronger Customer Relationships Within Pharma


Few industries affect consumers on a more personal level than the healthcare industry. Customers of any healthcare company, be it insurance providers, healthcare providers, or pharmaceutical companies, are invested in finding solutions to their health problems, and this often means there is more vulnerability and emotion in decision-making. Simply put: Healthcare is personal. To connect more personally with consumers, a people-first philosophy is necessary–and the results can be extremely beneficial. Companies that focus on customer relationships foster loyalty and customer retention. In fact, 73% of consumers say a good experience is key in influencing their brand loyalties.

Pharma companies, in particular, have a unique challenge in making more meaningful customer connections. There is a historical lack of trust in pharmaceutical companies, mainly surrounding the development and cost of drugs as well as marketing practices. Consumers don’t typically understand regulatory mandates or the science behind product development and approval, so there is a growing need for pharma companies to create more engaging experiences that build trust and connection. Ultimately, this leads to stronger customer relationships which produce loyalty, adherence, and profits.

Here are three ways pharma companies can begin to build stronger connections with customers.

Building Trust with Customers Through the Digital Experience

The context in which pharma companies build trust matters. They need to be able to meet consumers where they already are–in the digital space. Building trust starts with a customer’s first interaction with a company, and most of the time, that’s online. Clear privacy policies, transparent messaging around drug development and testing, easy and intuitive UX, social proof, digital personalizations, and easy access to support teams are all very relational elements of the digital experience that add to the sense of trust consumers feel online. Providing key information and creating a fuss-free online experience will help start off the relationship on the right foot. Additionally, digital security and privacy also play a critical role in brand trust, and when it comes to healthcare, there’s a heightened need to ensure customer information is protected.

Shifting to a Customer-Led Conversation

It’s time that the inherent “physicians and government knows best” system is challenged to shift to a more customer-led conversation. To foster sustainable connections with customers, pharma companies have to start inviting them in to shape the experience. This means relinquishing some of the control of the conversation and letting customers drive the overarching story. If pharma companies allow consumers to provide context for what they actually want and need, then the solutions offered will provide more valuable care and support.

Delivering Solutions Beyond the Pill

This may involve longer-term strategy, but putting the consumer and their individual experiences first by delivering solutions beyond the pill is going to be crucial in the future of pharma. It’s not enough to personalize just the customer experience–the treatment also has to be personalized. Most consumers are aware that pills and prescription medications are not magic bullets. Things like digital therapeutics and mental health support contribute to broader solutions for patients dealing with invasive diseases.

Pharma companies should begin to ask: What other ways can we support patients? What do they need to be successful? How are they coping? In what ways can we be more involved? The answers to these questions may involve engaging in strategic partnerships beyond medication to help support what customers need to live a more fulfilling life. If pharma can show up ready to support their customers in a more well-rounded way incorporating the human element of disease, they will be well on their way to strong and sustainable customer relationships.