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Channelling Pharma’s Inner Omni

Updated: Dec 16, 2019

A cry from industry stakeholders for an integrated customer experience resonates as technology continues to incorporate itself into every part of daily life. Although the journey to omni-channel did not begin recently, tech advancements and changing consumer behaviours require businesses to be respondent and adaptive. Domino’s remodelling of their pizza platform coincided with an increase in company profits year-on-year, revenue having grown twofold since 2013. Where once customers had to call to order, Domino’s now delivers digital excellence on a silver platter; customers can order from platforms like Facebook Messenger, Apple TV, and Amazon’s Alexa. Their mission to leave no device behind, while keeping customer experience consistent, is admirable. Three experts in customer excellence share their views on what needs to happen to initiate the chain reaction and kick start the Domino’s effect..

What are the foundations in streamlining the omni-channel approach?

Kirby: Three things: plumbing, capabilities, and people. All three need to be in place to get the full benefits of the customer engagement ecosystem; if you don’t have training in place then you can’t make informed decisions in a fast, iterative, agile way.

Edouard: The plumbing is a must, but it won’t make you successful; I can track all my HCP interactions, but it won’t give me incremental sales if I don’t have the right marketers in place to understand, synchronise, and efficiently use the channels. Data is also very important – data quality and literacy among the commercial team. All our good statisticians are in R&D. We need to educate and grow our commercial teams while providing them with the tools.

Ohayon: Start with the customer and with deep market research. Doctors are social professionals and are omni-channel with a lot of their interpersonal life. The challenge is understanding what they expect from us and how we find the right channel for the right person. So, start with the market research and do it well.

What capabilities are needed for an omni-channel transformation?

Kirby: Enormous collaboration is needed between commercial and IT. The closer you physically get, the better; I spend a huge amount of time with IT to get the projects up and running and aligning our strategies. For success, the plumbing must be right – we have to help IT get it right and they need to make sure we understand the technology. It’s vital that it’s a business-driven technology project, not a project for the sake of technology.

Edouard: A global brand strategy team must be in place to take ownership of the rollout – people who understand the brand strategy and can help you find the right digital tactics; they should not do the digital laundry of the organisation. Having worked in Japan for 4 years with their IT systems, I would definitely prefer to outsource IT. We are not technology companies; we cannot cope with the evolution of the systems and solutions.

Ohayon: Outsourcing can be good to start a project or get a proof of concept – A/B testing for example where the regulatory barriers make the process long. I would also include our sales force; we should motivate them to be on board as vectors, collecting data in the field and questioning them on how we should segment our HCPs; this will create a differentiator for our organisation.

What is the ebb and flow of centralisation in rolling out omni-channel?

Kirby: It’s a balance. Centralise when you need to get capabilities out of the door quickly. If you want value out of your tools in the markets, have a feedback system in place. In one of our markets we had a very strong omni-channel team, so we built that structure into all business units instead of centralising the process, but the management of the portal fell to pieces because no one was keeping it alive. So, you need both: a central team to manage the capabilities and the larger organisation to get the best value out of those capabilities.

Edouard: Every global brand team needs a representative from each key country contributing to insight generation and strategic discussion. When you create a strategy with a global team, the implementation is flawless – great education for local teams. You need empowered people to make decisions on behalf of affiliates – otherwise it’s all talk. A note to global teams though, when I worked locally in Japan, the Japanese would compare global teams to a flight of pigeons – they fly over the Atlantic, land in Japan, and crap all over the place. Then they take off and we are left to clean up the mess – just something to think about.

Ohayon: I advocate for the markets because we need to be more agile. That said, global offer tools for marketing automation. ROI is hard to demonstrate, it is expensive and complex; acquiring these tools without global power is impossible. Our global teams have put a task force in place for us to help with marketing automation. We draw a scheme of a complex marketing automation campaign on a sheet of paper, send it to them, and they code it for us. Global should be used as an enabling tool; for the rest – hand it to the market.

What are your top tips for companies implementing omni-channel?

Kirby: For me, it’s value and people. Spend time understanding what content delivers values to your customers – this will retain them. People wise – technology costs a lot, but so does educating people, and you need to invest time into education and awareness across the organisation. We are still lagging a bit here and it’s one of the reasons we’re not getting value from our tools.

Edouard: Firstly, don’t get bothered by technology. It’s a known problem and it will cost you money but outsource it. Secondly, get the data right because you will need to prove that your approach is working. If your data is not clean, updated, or manipulated in the right way you will not prove this. Lastly, build the right capabilities in the cross-functional teams, with your decks aligned.

Ohayon: Don’t speak about omni- or multi-channel; there are so many buzzwords and I think sometimes people don’t hear what you are really saying. There is misunderstanding from the mentioning of the term. Pick a use case and tell them what to expect – sell it like it’s normal and avoid the meaningless words.

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