Executive Search Perspective: Pharma CX – The Healthcare Journey

Stéphanie Blanc, Senior Consultant at GenSearch started her career as Researcher, across all industries, as such she has invaluable breadth and depth of experience. Having been drawn to the intellectual challenge of Life Science, and has been specialised for 15 years, she is a Senior Consultant at GenSearch.

Being well networked and highly regarded for her track record in pharma, executives are always open to engaging with her. Stéphanie works across different functions, and complex commercial searches. She clearly understands intricately what it takes to deliver the right customer experience.

Over the last 18 months, Stéphanie has been working in Customer Experience (CX) on behalf of several of the world’s top ten pharma companies. The move towards a customer-centric approach broadens the launch strategy way beyond efficacy, safety, and market positioning of a new product. To successfully implement this approach, there needs to be a rethink. Perceptions and conventions need to be challenged. The company must obtain full buy-in from the management team to ensure a common customer-centric vision.

Stéphanie was asked by her clients: “Bring us change makers!” There is an urgent need to attract leaders who can shift the customers into the centre of the product launch, putting their emotional and behavioural requirements first. CX in the pharma world, is also about understanding the patient’s and clients’ individual holistic journey.

Who are the customers?

The most obvious are

• Healthcare Providers (HCPs), who can be either:
– an individual professional
– groups of professionals
– an organisation

• Patients:
– The patient himself
– their circle of care
– patient advocacy groups

Pharma companies could also consider:
• Authorities
• Payers

Pharma CX requires the ability to look at a multi-customer approach, which adds complexity. In 2020, it was refreshing to see Pfizer, Moderna and BlueBird Bio being listed in Forbes 25 Of The Most Customer-Centric Companies, success is being achieved and lessons learnt.

A customer-centric approach brings an important change in paradigm which must be embraced across the entire organisation and at all levels. Companies must understand who their clients are, focus on their needs, and respond when their expectations are not met. The advances in our ability to collect, measure, integrate and analyse data has meant we can learn so much from its interpretation. There are multiple tools available e.g., digital healthcare libraries, CRM dashboards, and interactive peer-to-peer networks to help us understand where the weak points lie. A combination of quantitative and qualitative methods is best to get a full understanding. Once the issues are understood solutions can be designed and interventions can be applied to eliminate any negative experience and therefore, improve the customer journey.

Why CX is needed?

Relationships between companies and their customers have been reshaped by technology. Indeed, the development of digital has generated a multiplication of contact points and channels, resulting in a more complex omnichannel customer journey.

When we are considering patients, enhancing their experience with a product can have a direct impact on patient adherence and therefore better healthcare outcomes. Pharma companies are providing easily accessible tools to communicate to both patients and their circle of care via telemedicine and digital technologies amongst other things.

According to Stéphanie, CX leaders need to be agile, resilient, and inclusive. They also need be emotionally intelligent to be able understand the human element. Along with an analytical mindset and digital savvy to negotiate the data and tools required. Their ability to influence internally and externally, communicate and emulate “what it means to be customer centric” is vital.

As a relatively new approach for the industry, Stéphanie has been asked to help identify, assess, and appoint multi-talented CX leaders to take on the challenge. There are however several viable solutions available to organisations. Understanding the marketplace is key, as organisations are all at various stages in their maturity, approach, and success with CX. Thoroughly mapping the market has been an important step for the identification of exceptional talent.

There has been some success bringing talented internal candidates from other parts of the existing business. Putting employees through a thorough external assessment process using interview and personality profiling techniques helps to ensure the best candidates are hired. Some companies have been more experimental bringing in CX professionals from other industries where CX is more established. The opposite to this being the lack of understanding of the complex, highly regulated and increasingly competitive world of pharma. Attracting new talent into their organisations with the skills, experience, and energy to accelerate CX is what most of our clients have opted for.

CX Leadership?

Putting customers at the heart of pharma product launches will have a huge impact on patients, HCPs, and the organisations bringing innovative new medicines to the market. CX needs to be driven by exceptional, multifaceted leaders, and demonstrated across the entire business, for better patient outcomes.

Everyone must have a vested interest in the success of customer centricity as we are all consumers of healthcare!

If want to find out more about how GenSearch approaches complex Executive Search in the Life Science, or if you would like to discuss your future career aspirations reach out to one of the team.

This article was written following an interview with Stéphanie Blanc in April 2021 on her work in CX.

About GenSearch

GenSearch is an Executive Search, Assessment and Coaching firm dedicated to the Life Sciences. Our clients and the executives we support respect us for our in-depth expertise of complex environments, the reliability of our processes, our ethical approach as well as our openness to share our knowledge and network.