Next-Generation CRM

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By Bill Lucas

Tracking data and standardizing processes via a CRM system is nothing new for pharma sales reps, but is your organization getting the most value out of your CRM system?

While the pharmaceutical industry carries a bad rap for being slow to adapt to changing technologies, CRM systems have long been a mainstay for managing and tracking physician relationships and visits, as well as monitoring and projecting sales quotas. However, at many organizations, traditional CRM systems fall short because they have been used mainly to improve internal processes not enhance external relationships and improve customer service and satisfaction. How can pharma companies use CRM systems more effectively?

Recognize that customers rule. Next-generation CRM is more about the customer. The Internet is changing how patients and physicians buy and research everything from new prescription medications to treatments and medical devices and gives more choices for prices, products and services. Patients also want help coping with illness, managing side effects of treatment and connecting with a larger community to gain insight into managing their disease. Incorporating social CRM enables organizations to monitor social media participation, learn more about their customers and create lean, responsive and customer-friendly business models that deliver more targeted information and better service. This is a shift that transcends the traditional CRM approach of managing data about a customer to also monitoring their preferences, engagement and activities. By using a CRM system in this manner, companies can create programs and relationships that resonate with customer preferences and as a result, increase customer satisfaction and retention.

Build cooperation and collaboration across geographies and internal departments. Effective CRM requires breaking down internal silos and building tighter collaboration across the entire organization. Marketing, sales, customer service and other frontline employees need to work in tandem and focus on the value and experience the company delivers to its customers. CRM needs to go beyond a technology initiative and be woven into the fabric of the operating culture. Most enterprise-level CRM platforms now offer marketing automation and other services that allow these sorts of cross-departmental communications with customers to be more consistent. By integrating information between departments, employees and distributors will have a “single version of the truth and access to the information required to do their job better.

Pay attention to high value customers. As part of taking a customer-centric point of view, organizations should use CRM to determine which customers are the most profitable, and then focus on how they can design programs that enhance those relationships. Paretos principle says that 20 percent of customers bring in 80 percent of revenue, so it makes sense to focus on the most important customers and deliver service to them in a meaningful way. This means making sure information in your system is accurate and up-to-date so you can perform analysis that informs marketing programs, pricing, and how customers want to be contacted (as well as how often). At the same time, organizations need to be careful navigating regulations that prohibit rewarding subpopulations because they are more lucrative. By conducting analysis on the most profitable customers, organization may also uncover opportunities to build relationships with other customers who may not be high value at the moment, but have potential to be the most profitable customers of tomorrow.

By taking a strategic, customer-centric approach to CRM and communicating more effectively with customers, organizations can more tightly align business objectives with company success. In these challenging economic times, providing more effective communication, creating a collaborative work environment and delivering value-added service can build stronger client relationships and deliver a competitive edge.

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