customersWhen a company spends millions of purchasing customer insight from market research companies like IMS yet doesn’t realize that their medical information department is sitting on a data gold mine, then we’ve failed in communicating part of our worth.

It took me many years to more fully appreciate the value of our metrics as customer insight but then I grew up in the rich, flabby years of pharma. We weren’t trying too hard to squeeze full value from every dollar spent. Plus we didn’t have the apps and dashboards to perform analytics on our simplistic enquiry management systems. I predominantly focused on using metrics for resource management, as the reporting tools couldn’t provide the sophisticated trend analysis that we can now do with a button push.

But that has all changed and the Customer Insight session as the 2010 US DIA Med Comms workshop vividly showed us how it’s done. First up was the chair/speaker Leena Jindia, Director, Medical Information, Tibotec (Part of Centocor), seen on right of photo.

One of the most interesting presentations last year was the initial results from Project CLARITY, a market research study of customers feedback on the Tibotec services. Now we got the in-depth findings from Leena covering

  • service improvements
  • insight perceptions
  • value
  • interest in innovation

Based on feedback from interviews and face-to-face meetings with 60 healthcare professionals working in the virology area, their findings confirmed much of what we know already. Like; the ideal letter format, structure and length; that email is a preferred channel for delivery; that they want fast, specific, fair and balanced information. However times change so it’s good to check. Never assume.

So what fresh insights did I gain? The real gold nuggets were on the value and perceptions

  • HCPs rate our companies as the least valuable source for off-label information (Ranking order: colleagues, PubMed/Ovid, websites and internet searches and last of all, companies).
  • HCPs correlate the perception of the MI service on the quality of their interaction with MSLs (field-based medical liaison professionals) and sales reps.
  • When HCPs get in-depth product information from us, they expect a degree of bias but are comfortable that they can filter that bias as a trade-off.
  • Companies still have a long way to go with their websites. Even the contact details are buried away.
  • Using instant messaging and online communities is interesting but HCPs still need education to appreciate the value they could bring.

So what lessons can we learn to raise our customers perception of our services?


So what does this mean for us?

  • Partner with your MSL/sales reps. When you work well together, doctors & pharmacists will more highly value your service
  • Get your MSL and rep to explain more about your service benefits and value to their customers. Remember; you are that safe harbor for scientific exchange.
  • Make sure HCPS can easily find your contact details. Think about a virtual tour of MI on your company website.
  • Keep an open mind on the value of innovative communication channels; start the journey by demonstrating the benefits and keep them simple, quick, advantageous over existing options.
  • HCPs dread getting a huge package of reprints as a response to their question. 1-3 articles is sufficient.
  • How about an iPhone/Android app with all the email and phone numbers of medical information departments for all pharma companies? Doctors are the fastest growing demographic for buying iPhones and other smartphones.

Coming up – The Voice of the Customer and What Latino populations can tell us about supporting Europe.