We live in a world of multi-screens and multi-channels, often starting an activity on one and finishing on another. As we transition from one touchpoint to another, we expect the experience to be seamless and connected. A break in the customer journey leads to poor customer experience and has a detrimental impact on customer perception and customer engagement. Healthcare Professionals (HCPs) and Key Opinions Leaders (KOLs) are increasingly expecting similar experiences regarding ease of engagement and awareness of previously communicated areas of interest, in their interactions with Medical Affairs teams. HCPs and KOLs engage with different functions in a biopharmaceutical company as part of their customer journey and they have varying preferences when it comes to channels, devices, content, and the time of engagement. As Medical Affairs teams build digital engagement strategies, there needs to be a well-defined strategy to replicate the superior customer experience that their customers are used to receiving from their non-pharma engagements with Netflix, Amazon, or Starbucks.
This is where multichannel and omnichannel approaches to engaging the customer become important. Although both approaches use multiple channels to engage the customer, they are very different when it comes to strategy and execution. This paper aims to break down the difference between multichannel and omnichannel approaches through the lens of Medical Affairs and calls out some key recommendations that Medical Affairs teams can consider as they go about building their omnichannel medical strategy.
So how does one define omnichannel strategy and how does it differ from multichannel strategy? Given that HCPs engage with multiple functions within a pharma company, should these strategies be defined at a functional level or be set at an organizational level?
Multichannel strategy is defined as the efforts required to draw up a multichannel medical customer engagement (MCE) plan, which consists of a set of tactics around channel selection, content, and activities with customers. An MCE plan aims to cast the net as wide as possible and cover all the possible channels to engage with the customers. However, more channels do not necessarily mean a better customer experience; rather, it can lead to a poor experience if the customer journey is fragmented.
Omnichannel strategy focuses on delivering a consistent, personalized experience across channels and devices regardless of who the customer is speaking to – medical leadership, Medical Science Liaison (MSL), marketing, and so on. An omnichannel strategy aims to ensure a seamless customer journey that is connected across various channels that the customer uses for engagement – both online and offline. In an omnichannel strategy, various functions collaborate and align to deliver on the single goal of ensuring a connected customer journey and moving the customer in the same direction. This requires them to integrate their data and analytics efforts to ensure that each function has a single- or 360-degree view of the customer.