Customer experience : 6 essential cross-sector digital trends to apply to pharma

Published on 27 September 2021 Read 25 min

2020 started a new era in customer experience. The digital shift of customer experience is accelerated by the pandemic: we have moved the majority of our interactions online and explored countless new tools in the past year. And it’s just the beginning: thanks to multiple advantages of the digital universe, the overall customer experience improves at an impressive speed that we could have never imagined. From our observation, Alcimed identified 6 trends (4 hot topics that newly emerged in 2021 and 2 lasting trends that Alcimed has been supporting our clients to apply to their practice) from other sectors, such as e-commerce, banking, travelling service etc., to keep an eye on for pharma companies’ inspiration.

Hot topic n°1: conversational customer experience on multi-platforms to create real communication

The top one on the hot topic list is conversational experience, applying to all sectors. Customers are looking for an active role in the interactions. To be more concrete, they expect to express themselves and to be heard in continuous two-way interactions. As a result, formats as emails from will get less and less attention. Instead, they prefer acquiring actively information that they need via an interactive digital platform. They want a balance in terms of the quantity of information pushed by the company and pulled by themselves.

Besides the two-way format, the conversation customer experience should be continuous, even on different platforms. When customers are talking to companies, they usually have a clear objective, either to solve a problem or to share positive feedback. They may contact the company in different wats (phone call, mail, social network etc.) at the same time, but it is important here to avoid a series of separate but repetitive conversations on different channels.

The top-level customer experience would be giving the customers the impression that they are talking to a company that understands their problem, but not several confused operators, one at the end of each channel. Thus, connecting all the platforms to share the information flow is a great first step. The goal of customer experience for 2021 is only to be present online, but to show your customer that you are listening.

Hot topic n°2: personalization in micro-moments to bring value

The second customer experience trend worth attention is to use micro-moments to reinforce customer engagement and trigger actions. This is a trend highly related to the exponentially increasing use of mobile phones.

According to Google, micro-moments are intent-rich moments when decisions are made and preferences shaped, usually when people have an instant need and search for information reflexively on their mobile phone. In these moments, they are looking for a customized answer. Customization here actually refers to relevance to him/herself and the context of the moment. They may go to a search engine or your website/mail/contact person at these moments. It is your job to decipher the appropriate moment to deliver contextually relevant value in the customer life cycle via preferred customer touchpoints.

Hot topic n°3: use of the peak-end rule to redesign a highly digitalized customer experience

The peak-end rule is a psychological heuristic in which people judge an experience largely based on how they felt at its peak (i.e. its most intense point) and at its end, rather than based on the total sum or average of every moment of the customer experience.

Besides independent and sporadic micro-moments, there are also cases when there is a more predictable customer journey. After the digital take-up in 2020, it is time to re-evaluate holistically the customer experience and adjust it with the peak-end rule.

The peak-end rule, as the Nobel Prize-winning Israeli psychologist Daniel Kahneman suggests, “is a psychological heuristic in which people judge an experience largely based on how they felt at its peak (i.e. its most intense point) and at its end, rather than based on the total sum or average of every moment of the experience.” In the customer journey post 2020:

  • What are the new potential peak moments and end in the comprehensive customer experience? And Why?
  • Are they online or offline? Can we make it more delightful?
  • Is the end note high enough?

For example, we see how rapidly digital experience has been enhanced last year, for instance the frogleap of webinars from awkward nerdy discussion to TV-broadcasting like ceremony, or the rise of audio media like podcast and audio socializing like Club House. Why not use it as one of the peak moments or even the endnote in the customer experience?

What if these questions could guide you to a more exciting and engaging customer journey in 2021?

Learn more about the new challenges of customer journey >

Hot topics n°4: Cybersecurity, risk and opportunity

Last but not least, cybersecurity is more important than ever. More and more customers start to be concerned about how companies manage the gigantic volume of data that they collected on us. This represents both risks and opportunities for companies. To avoid risks, using proper technologies and proposing adapted training to all team members on the topic are necessary.

Also read : Health data: which models for tomorrow? – Alcimed position paper

As we know, a slightly negative impression on cybersecurity can easily ruin the brand image and customer experience. Meanwhile, this is also a way to differentiate from the competitors: success in creating a secure virtual environment leads directly to developing trustful relationship. Be forward-thinking and take proactive measures on cybersecurity will pay off in today’s digital competition.

Lasting trends: personalization empowered by data, gamification

On the list of lasting trends, the first one is personalization empowered by data. Unsurprisingly, this topic is still at the center of the stage. Emerging personalized offers from all kinds of businesses foster customers’ growing appetite for even more precisely tailored services and experiences. Only data will help us to better decipher customers’ needs.

Here are some questions to assess how ready the customer base is on this battlefield:

  • Is the current customer base unified and well-segmented to persona?
  • Is the database updated regularly with real-time information?
  • Are the analytics in line with your actionable goals?
  • Are the analytics capable to help you to anticipate customer expectations?

Did you hesitate on any of these questions? Alcimed is here to help you answer them.

Learn more about data driven strategies >

Another lasting trend is what Alcimed has been promoting since years: gamification. Thriving positive emotion generating technologies and the ironic rise in mental health problems in this digitalized world confirmed our observation: people need to feel connected one to another with emotions.

Games are one of the best solutions to create this connection. The gamified experience can be including an entertainment: Belgian KBC bank that bought the rights to broadcast soccer games via their mobile banking app, or providing rewards to customers in particular situations: McDonald’s too has staged a week of free events aimed at giving consumers “a little lift” following the ongoing cancellation of sporting and entertainment venues due to Covid-19 in October of 2020. The key is to reproduce the simplest feeling of joy as when we were kids.

The amazing digital uptake in 2020 has set the ground for breakthroughs in customer experience this year. We hope these 7 trends we observed from other sectors than pharma may help you to differentiate from competitors on your customer journey and grow with your customers in the time of change.

About the author, 

Sijia, Consultant in Alcimed’s Healthcare team in France

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