CRM In The Pharmaceutical Industry, And The Opportunity For Retailers

The healthcare industry is in the midst of a major transformation. There are few topics as hotly debated in both politics and the press—whether you’re talking about insurance costs and coverage, accountable care organizations, or outcomes based medicine. 

We’re seeing a continued movement towards self-management and preventive care; people are being encouraged to take more control of their health and well-being. Local pharmacies can and should play a bigger role that extends beyond pharmacy adherence programs, store loyalty programs, and the convenience of in-store clinics. And therein lies a huge opportunity. Because, with the right CRM programs, retail pharmacies have the capabilities to acquire and retain huge amounts of consumers—by helping them become effective members of their own healthcare team.

Think People, Not Drugs

Every good CRM strategy starts by figuring out what your customers need, and how you can give it to them. This is no less true for pharmacy retailers. Retailers must research and understand all the dimensions and influencers of their customers’ behavior. Instead of thinking about drugs, diseases, and conditions, think about the people who take the drugs and deal with conditions. Invest in research that will uncover: 

  • How knowledgeable your consumers are about managing their own health 
  • How confident they are in their ability to navigate the healthcare system
  • What kinds of tools and support they have and would like to receive from their local pharmacy

Dive deep. As with all industries, the more insights that you can uncover about your consumers, the more effective your CRM programs will be. But in pharma, that can be especially rewarding—because you’ll be tailoring programs and communications that help people take care of their own health and well-being. 

Guide and Provide

Be more than just a store—be the expert first. Right now, 88% of caregivers with Internet access go online to look up health information. That means that, today, any respectable pharma company must put a strong emphasis on its digital content strategy. Given the wide range of products and services that retailers offer, they’re well-positioned to provide an education on a broad set of health questions and conditions. 

With the help of the data you’ve gathered, focus on developing content that’s relevant to your consumers. But instead of creating content that just plugs products, make it information that will help patients decide on what they really need for their health. Your brand doesn’t even necessarily have to be the originator of that content—you can curate relevant information from other sources, and serve it to your consumers. 

What ultimately matters the most is that you guide them; make them feel supported. Do that, and you’ll earn their trust—which means that they’ll listen to you when you tell them you can help. 

Connect Your Consumers—With You and With Each Other

Making educational content available to your consumers is key. But as with all CRM programs, it can’t just be a one-way communication channel. In fact, this holds especially true for pharma, because it’s an industry that’s so different from many others. It’s not about selling consumers a product—it’s about helping them with their health and well-being. Creating real trust with your consumers means creating a dialogue; it means that your brand must show reciprocity and openness. That sort of trust and relationship needs to be built over time.

Now take it one step further, and think of it this way: when faced with a problem or a question, people don’t just seek out information—they look for community. In addition to creating a real connection between consumers and your brand, give them the opportunity to connect with one another. Help facilitate a way for them to share their experiences, knowledge, advice, and support. While every pharmacy retailer must contend with the FDA’s evolving rules and regulations for digital and social media, investing in community is well-worth it. Even if you’re not the originator of a community, you can still do a great service to your consumers by pointing them to it.

Ultimately, the heart of any good CRM strategy is the ability to reach, connect, and deliver value to people on their terms. In today’s healthcare ecosystem, every pharma retailer can do that by helping people along their path to better health.

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