Oncology Companies Need to Improve the Customer Experience


Study finds that manufacturers need to develop a new approach to engaging oncologists.

A quantitative survey conducted by ZS Associates found that a positive customer experience is essential in reestablishing loyalty and building strong relationship between cancer drug manufacturers and oncologists.

Over several years, a strained relationship has developed with a dramatic drop in sales representatives having access to oncologists, from 83% in 2008 to 27% in 2015.

The study was conducted in July and August 2015 with a total of 259 responses from oncologists, oncology nurses, and administrators. The survey looked to understand customer experience by looking at the drivers and the overall customer experience.

The key findings of the study found: negative oncology customer experiences falls behind other customer experiences in different industries; representatives, patient services, and other factors account for two-thirds of the customer experience, while products only account for about one-third; most oncology companies will add $50 to $75 million in incremental sales for every $1 billion in current sales if a better customer experience is achieved; and that positive customer experience is associated with greater in person accessibility and higher engagement across online and virtual channels.

Customer experience was measured using the Net Promoter Score (NPS) with dissatisfaction found mostly among oncologists and administrators compared to nurses.

Survey participants rated the impact of 5 factors that account for customer experience, which showed 36% for products, 22% for patient services, 19% for representatives, 16% for company reputation, and 7% for online and virtual engagement. The 4 factors that oncology companies can manage accounts for 64% of customer experience.

The NPS ratings used included either a positive NPS, where the percentage of promoters exceeds that of detractors, or a negative NPS.

Companies with high NPS ratings were found to have greater in person access (93%), as well as engagement across online virtual channels, compared with companies that have low NPS ratings (63%).

This data suggests that companies with high NPS are more likely to have better access to customers face-to-face and across remote channels. If manufacturers offer oncologists increased and better options for online and virtual engagement, it can improve the customer experience.

Companies with high NPS ratings would in general proactively design a positive customer experience by improving factors they could control.

Survey participants revealed that several factors regarding the company and their representatives and personnel contribute to wanting to recommend a company. This included: great customer service and support; representatives who are always available; who are knowledgeable about all aspects of the business and oncology market; personnel that have engaging conversations with physicians and nurses and are open to discussing new ideas; a focus on patients’ needs; an effort put into building relationships and maintaining them; and a great website and virtual resources.

In order for manufacturers to emulate high NPS-rated companies, 3 approaches should be applied.

Designing and executing a customer experience program should be done with purpose and intention in delivering the good experience, according to the study. The experience should be coordinated across different teams, with “orchestrator reps” who harmonize activities by using multichannel customer interactions.

A purposeful approach should be part of the inner workings of the company. Oncology manufacturers will need to shift focus within the company from an internal focus to and external customer focus, the study noted. New incentives and metrics that motivate people to buy into the customer experience is needed to make the transition possible. A customer’s experience should be tailored to each individual’s preferences and beliefs, the researchers concluded.

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