The first time we plug into our clients’ CRM and marketing automation systems, many metaphorically cross their fingers.

“Our customers are afraid we’ll go back and say, ‘you have nothing to work with,’” says Aktana’s Product Director Rakan Sleiman in a NEXT Normal March 2022 expert roundtable tackling misconceptions around implementing omnichannel AI. “The reality is completely the opposite. It feels like every time we do a Data Readiness Assessment, they’re even more ready.”

Watch Aktana, Organon and Roche present at the March 2022 NEXT Normal

Many life sciences organizations hold off on tethering their channel inputs into a single, intuitive interface for longer than necessary. It puts the physicians they serve at risk of being overwhelmed by an avalanche of emails, sales calls and marketing promotions.

Without a top-down view into a particular physician’s needs and experience with the organization, channels lack the capacity to coordinate their efforts in real-time, and their well-meaning attempts to vie for an HCP’s attention can be engulfing, even creating the opposite of their intended effect.

Perhaps you can relate? If so, read on for 7 key takeaways from our expert roundtable, The Perfect Data Myth: What You Really Need to Start Seeing Impact from Omnichannel

1.) Technology is not your problem

Think you don’t have the right technology in place to execute an omnichannel strategy? Think again. “You wouldn’t believe what you can achieve with old CRM and backend systems,” says Organon’s Juan David Rodriguez.

Don’t let this common misconception hold you back.

For basic AI, you can use legacy systems. To launch an omnichannel engagement, the foundational tech-stack elements are your CRM and marketing automation platform.

2.) You have the data

Many life sciences organizations think they don’t have enough data to put machine learning in play. Spot this common misconception, and you’ll likely realize you’re already prepared to start the shift to intelligent omnichannel engagement with AI.

“We go and speak to different brand teams, different IT teams and different CRM teams,” says Sleiman, “and there’s this fear that their data is not in a state [that will allow them] to make improvements in HCP engagement. But you do have data. And it does exist because whether or not the channels are optimal, the HCPs are engaged across multiple channels—with you. The data is there, and it’s very rich.”

3.) You can realize benefits with basic data

Most people are surprised by the benefits they can realize with simple AI, says Sleiman, who provides three sample situations. Here’s a single-channel scenario to try on. “Imagine your CRM is only being used for logging face-to-face calls with HCPs,” says Sleiman. “Then you can obviously leverage AI to try to optimize your scheduling, to maximize not only the rep’s time but also the HCP’s time, which is very valuable.”

Try a two-channel scenario. “The reps are doing face-to-face calls and also managing approved emails through the CRM,” says Sleiman. “Which channel is better to use, to engage with this specific HCP? AI can help with that.”

Or say you want to think of marketing automation as a separate channel—leveraged by a field force who helps execute the journey. AI can pass the baton between channels, notifying a rep to follow up with a physician who engaged with an HQ email while providing optimal scheduling suggestions that reflect the most likely times the rep could successfully execute on the action, within the two-week window provided by the marketing team.

“The data sitting in your CRM is rich enough to help with those components of your execution strategy,” says Sleiman. 

4.) Turtle-step your strategic coordination

If you’re new to the game, forget launching with a major initiative that spans all departments and communication streams, coordinating every touchpoint in the customer journey.

“Start small in a specific area with a specific audience,” says Roche’s Kimberly Friedrichs. “Start getting feedback from customers demonstrating value and impact and expand into other areas, and [make sure your process] embeds the omnichannel approach in the field force, with colleagues interacting with HCPs.”

Don’t let the excitement of your ambitions dilute your effort and focus, Rodriguez adds. “Start small on one or two channels.” Weave them together seamlessly before merging every channel with those you’ve never tried before.

5.) Remember your “why”

Why are you investing so much in omnichannel strategy? “[Across our global customers], we saw an uplift in digital engagement that seems to have plateaued and appears to be returning to pre-pandemic levels,” says Sleiman.

When contact is uncoordinated, HCPs often decrease engagement. They stop clicking on emails, stop making themselves available and stop requesting visits from the field team.

“There’s an opportunity to maximize engagement, and it comes back to ensuring the handoffs between different channels are correctly orchestrated,” says Sleiman. “In your ideal world, you send content to an HCP, they consume it and follow up with their own channel preference—with the appropriate actor orchestrating the journey.”

“If you’re doing omnichannel the right way, the HCPs are more engaged and opening emails and requesting visits.”

6.) Only iterate on impact

Smart organizations anchor their omnichannel strategy with scalable AI. How do you know the investment is worth scaling? Metrics. Data. KPIs.

Make sure your strategy requires measurable success criteria from three angles, says Friedrichs: the company, your affiliates and your HCPs. Consider measuring added value in terms of improved patient outcomes, the ability to stay current on new research and increased awareness.

You might compare pre-personalization and post-personalization data sets or realize value by asking the customer directly via the CSAT (Customer Satisfaction Score), NPS (Net Promoter Score) or CES (Customer Effort Score).

7.) Improve intelligent omnichannel outreach today

What are three things you can do to improve your effectiveness now?

  • Focus on your customer. “Know your customer,”  says Sleiman. “What are the pain points they’re experiencing today?” Interview them. Survey HCPs. Look to the data.
  • Set your KPIs. “What are the leading metrics you need to have in place to evaluate whether or not your execution strategy, your omnichannel strategy is working for them?”
  • Finally, get started! “There are so many opportunities out there—get started, have a strong feedback loop, iterate and improve,” says Sleiman. “Getting started helps you generate the right data.”

Life sciences organizations work hard, often asynchronously, but without the steady, incremental progress of an omnichannel intelligence program to orchestrate and optimize each customer journey with real-time, top-down transparency, an HCP’s risk of disengagement may amplify.

Use these 7 key takeaways pulled from NEXT Normal March 2022 to help the HCPs you serve to improve patient outcomes and avoid digital fatigue. It will keep them coming back to you to meet their needs.