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Questions four at the Digital Marketing for Medical Devices Conference panel, “What role does digital marketing play in delivering quality customer service?” Question five follows in this video and transcript.
Click for questions one (on ROI), two (on patient outcomes), and three (sales organizations).
Joe: What role does digital marketing play in delivering quality customer service? And I’d like to start with Michael.
Michael: Okay, so quality customer service. So I kind of look at all this through the lens of relationship marketing. If all what we are doing is developing relationships other than the marketers out there that have the same, offer drug where your complete audience is like a 100 people worldwide is targeted one-by-one. Very few of those that I think are out there.
In most cases to be scalable or be relevant you really don’t through the lens of relationship marketing.
So the way the digital can help accentuate that. I always call it it’s a force, a multiplier, to everything else you’re doing out there. It is, it’s really understanding those preferences and then as you’re building that relationship to be relevant to them. It’s very similar to what Chris was saying earlier and to provide customer service. Again I don’t like that term, it’s really the customer experience that I want to engage that person with.
It really is about stepping back, understanding the relationship I want to have with these audiences. What preferences they might have? And then how do I begin to have that relationship with them?
That to me is the true customer services in customer experiences that we need to hang towards getting. I’m thinking through, and by the way, that goes for ACP or consumer. My personal experiences are, we have some patients, in the diabetes space that only interact with us through our Facebook page or Twitter page, and that’s just the way they interact.
Some people will only call our 800 number no matter what you do.
Some people will only talk to the doctor.
And so the number of apps you’re just going to open up just expands exponentially once you have, and leveraging digital channels. But they have to be tied together and they have to be understanding what their preferences are, not to market to sell them stuff but to understand their body behavior to really respond to that and build that relationship.
So to me digital marketing is a platform that can multiply all the things you’ve been doing in the past if you do it thoughtfully and not look at them as just a tool just to use, just for the fun of it if they’re brought together. And I was thinking, I’ve seen companies like get closer to that, but to me in my mind that’s kind of the way I look at kind of the long tail business, how do I actually achieve that? And there’s a lot of even CPG companies out there that are kind of starting to do that, achieving, use this as a model.
Joe: I really appreciate that sentiment. Often times in a forum like this we’re talking about acquisition, acquisition, acquisition.
And I think digital is a perfect, ideal place for loyalty. Here’s one idea that I’ll just throw out there.
“What it would be like if your customer got an email, a genuine not an automated, not went-out-in-force with just the mail merge from somebody in the customer care and said, “Sheila thank you for being our customer, I know you have the Quinton 9500. I’m just letting you know that I am your customer care person. Wanted to introduce myself.
P.S. If you need paper, I have a sale that … you know.
And really make it so it’s like wow! I just got an email that’s just … he’s a guy I can contact. I think that engenders real familiarity and when it comes time for there to be an up-sell or something.
Audience: Imagine the impact of that. Imagine the impact of that if you could use some of the things that Kelly is talking about in terms of big data analytics and having Marketing place those messages in the hands of your sales force as the next prescriptive stuff that the sales force can take. Hugely beneficial too, and it moves the needle in a huge way from a revenue perspective.
Greg: I think one of the big opportunities is really providing a shortcut to the answers that people are looking for. It’s a great opportunity for many things digital. We’ve talked about helping the reps get better information; we’ve talked about searching the websites.
I think social media is another one of those examples. Robin from Kimberly-Clark last year talked about their feeding tube business and they’ve got a Facebook fan page for liking.
If you look at it, it’s fantastic there is almost 2000 users on there now and there is a series of different questions that people come up with. Where, “I’ve got this issue. How do I deal with it?”
So a lot of times there is a practical answer. And so it’s a phenomenon tool where they are obviously investing in that channel but what’s coming out of it is much more than what they are putting into it, because of all the user input. So that’s another great example of a very positive way to use social media.
Line: And I think it’s not only just that, because they are, people are coming to you and you are having an interaction but it’s also I think we, as an industry, we are much better at reaching at. Using technology and the whole mindset and listening to our advantage, sounds wrong to say into our advantage. But I really feel we sit with so much information that we can provide to people, help them and it can help them overcome, to the point that was mentioned before about the pre-operative information. Give them that information they are looking for if they can’t find it, because there is so much stuff out in the space.
Michael: You know one trick, I just thought about this is, one trick I kind of use with my team is just to having them, and this may be more kind of in a BP plan for the next year thinking kind of broadly, thinking about a world where I think you are going to the sales force being the biggest line item on the budget. You didn’t have a sales force or you didn’t have the customer service rep, what would you do? So you still have this job to do and how I can do it.
And that tends to open your mind quite a bit so if you don’t feel like improved you come to a conference like this and really understand kind of what digital tools are available. You still get to the crux of the matter which is, “How do I want to engage? What we are going to do?” and that kind of starts the conversation going.
Because really what we are trying to do in the tools and technologies exist, for the most part, is just to have better surround, the job that we are having to do and not to rely, “We have this giant customer service department with a bunch of customer service reps, or a bunch of sales reps out there,” but think, beyond that.
Joe: Thank you.
When we met last night to talk over some of the questions, one of the ones that we came up with was about the role of the physician. And if you’ll indulge me for a moment, every Tuesday I think I have the privilege of sending out an email to this great big group and I had nothing to say last night. I just did not know what to write, I wrote something very, very lame and went to sleep.
And then I realized this physician conversation that we have this will be a great chance for me to integrate the two so if you will indulge my reading.
I wrote as a subject line, “Why are you still trying to influence physician preferences?’
And I wrote, Bosnia and Herzegovina-based member Zeljko Rankovic asked this week, “Does the medical device industry need physicians or are we just customers?” It’s a topic we’ll discuss today at the Digital Marketing for Medical Devices Conference in Minneapolis.
Zeljko, we unequivocally need the voices of physicians here in the Medical Devices Group.
As a medical device marketer, I’m often asked, “How do manufacturers win awareness and interest from physicians?” I’d like to ask a slightly different question of this predominantly manufacturer-based group though.
How important is it, really, to educate physicians about the benefits of your product? I understand the physician’s role in market research, design, and development.
I see the relevance when selling up into primary care, of course, where the physician owner makes the purchasing decision and where specialist referrals are involved (that came from you Scott Nelson). About more Hospital-owned practices where physicians are employees and in acute care where buying groups including GPOs are calling the shots, physician preference seems to carry less weight.
So, unless you have a medical breakthrough and dramatically improved patient outcomes, why are you still spending resources on physicians in the acute arena?
And we already have five responses on that which I will withhold and instead ask the panel if anything I’ve asked has resonated with you, if you’d like to jump in with your thoughts?
Gail: Yes, it’s really resonated with me, especially in the area of the products that we manufacturer — that I’m responsible for which are abdominal thoracic grafts (endografts).
That physician has to know how to put that graft in there correctly. And, we as manufacturers have to show them. And, that physician preference is everything. Our whole company has been built on physician preference. Even in the, in the very earliest days, Mr. Cook used to go to a convention and he had a bunch of burrs set up on his table and he would make catheters to match the doctor’s specifications.
And, he’d say, “Bend into the little to the left, bend into the little to the right.” You know, I can’t imagine, we have hundreds of products that are named after physicians who created those products with Cook. They are an integral part of our business model.
Yes, HBS or the Business Solutions Purchasing Organizations, yes they are important. But at the end of the day, they are not the ones that are putting that device in the patient.
The physician is the one that’s putting it into the patient. And, if it’s not meeting the physician, the way that physician’s been trained properly, if it’s not meeting the way they want to do that procedure, then we haven’t done our job properly.
Joe: So, I heard you saying, “Physician education is paramount and important.”
Joe: I didn’t hear you say, “The physician is going to impact whether or not a Cook device gets implanted or not.”
Gail: Well it depends.
First of all, it depends on the device. But, I will tell you that, I do know for a fact that when you go opt for an organization, a purchasing organization then a hospital and they make decisions. There is a group of physicians that are having an impact on that decision. And, you know they are going to pick, they are going to make recommendations the ones that they think are the right ones to use.
Especially, if it has to do with devices in that, that are – and they would be considered Class III devices, which are the ones that are very technical. Like for example, a stand that’s used for a patient who has compression of the ureters and those ureters are closing down and that device that we made is the one, it’s the only one in the market that’s going to be able to solve that problem. That physician is getting the preference, right there.
Joe: Something to add?
Jitesh: I would like to, I’d like to add that, I think it depends on, on, on the physician’s role there. If I’m just out of a teaching hospital and I have much less influence, if you will. I’d probably tow my company line and use the, whatever my committee has recommended. But if you do segmentation correctly and be able to try to lean on topics which were brought up earlier and maybe find out through a digital channels who are the key influencers?
Who are the right physicians who actually have the ability to influence buying committees or even override buying committees?
Because that happens, you know, you, you can actually say, “I think, as a physician. of this particular device is better than other devices and here is my reasons why. And in this, my hospital and my training colleges, I would use this device.”
So I mean if you can actually make some of these doctors your brand ambassadors, if you will, obviously based on clinical outcomes then that’s a very, very powerful tool and I don’t think we should try and give up on that tool as of today.
Michael: I think it’s really hard to think about this as one decision, when you think about healthcare being millions of decisions.
There are three main players in those decisions, you have the patient, you have the provider, and you have the payer.
And each medical decision can be matched somewhere in that triangle as who’s the predominant player. If it’s lattice the patient is going to ask the doctor, the doctor is going to probably prescribed it and the payer’s going to say, “Knock yourself out.” Alright.
If it’s a complex life-saving procedure the physician is going to drive the boat, the payer is probably going to try to stay out of the way and the patient’s going to find a way to pay the co-pay.
Alright. If it’s a first-stage hypertensive therapy, the payer is going to say, “Doc you have these three choices,” and the doctor is not going to complain too much.
But, every healthcare decision can be plotted somewhere in that triangle. Okay. And each of those three players have a relative role and with the data that’s out there available now you can start to make intuitive guesses as to what each player’s role is in that particular decision.
Greg: There is no doubt that the economic customer is becoming more important. I don’t know that that necessarily means that the clinical customer’s becoming less important. You can imagine if you’re sitting on a table and they are deciding which technology to bring in, which price and the doctor says, “Yeah, they are all kind of the same.” That’s going to be a pretty short conversation.
So, you clearly still need to build that physician preference and make sure that the person is best equipped to evaluate the value of that product and thinks it’s highly valuable. But at the same time, you know, as we look at, you know this is the rising economic customer; we need to have good solutions to address their concerns.
You know, how is this product going to fit within my economic constraints? How is this going to provide economic value? Why is this a good return on the investment I’m putting into this?
And so I think that’s something that we need to look at in multiple different ways we can approach that customer, understand them, and provide them a relevant answer.
But if you think there is a role for digital technology in that solution you can for example, do something like create an online form where you can discuss some of these events right in and provide value to those customers and start to understand who they are, understand their needs you know.
I think there is many ways you can approach this but clearly we need to understand this customer better.
Joe: Well, we’ve got about two minutes left. I want to thank our panel. I thought that was great, really.
I will close with a little pitch, if you don’t mind. And that is that “Friends don’t let friends write bad e-mails.”
You are my friends. Don’t let me write crap for an email that goes out to 110,000 people because I just ain’t smart enough to come up with 52 good ideas a year. (Laughter)
I need you!
So please, seriously consider how you can contribute to the Medical Devices Group. Just for laughs, I’ve put a profile link to the doctor who raised the original question and so far his profile had 438 clicks today.
So, it’s a great way to get some extra exposure. Have something ready on your profile, or a link to your website. It’s a great way to use social media to share and amplify your message.
We thank you very much, we are breaking now for lunch. When you return, this side is for social stuff and that side is for mobile stuff. Thank you very much. We’ll see you after lunch.
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