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The Customer Engagement Lesson!

Have you ever had a potentially disastrous experience flip on you, make you think deeper, and turn out to be a memorable lesson worthy of a place in your arsenal of analytical tools?

I had one last July.  It was a long, sleepless, 16-hour flight into Narita from New York.  The two hour ride to my hotel in Tokyo was only bearable because I knew that I would be able to unwind in luxury room with a king-size bed that I had reserved in advance.  By the time I reached the front desk, feeling exhausted, all I wanted was to get the key card and go straight to my room.

The desk clerk pleasantly offered me the key to my room.  I was about to sign the check-in card when I realized that the desk clerk was offering me a  room with a double-bed contrary to the reservation instructions. 

He was extremely apologetic, while keeping up a pleasant demeanor that I didn’t have.  Although he had profusely apologized, he did not offer any solution to rectify his mistake.  Frustrated, I informed the desk clerk that I was picking-up my phone to look for another hotel when the hotel manager stepped in and offered me the room I desired.  Relieved to finally get what I had expected, I accepted the offer with pleasure and thanks.


As I unwound, many questions reverberated in my head:  Looking at myself as a customer and as a marketer, I asked myself, ‘how would I define this experience?  Why did this happen?  How would I compare this hotel to other experiences?  From a customer engagement and strategy perspective, was this a moment of truth – a meaningful interaction that shapes customers’ attitudes and behavior?  How would this impact my future behavior and engagement (with the hotel)?’

The Life Sciences are not a service industry.  But, in my mind these questions are relevant to the pharmaceutical industry.   As the economic environment changes, competition intensifies, and products become commoditized.  Th approach to patient centric marketing is built upon a deeper understanding of the customer and their behavior. can become an important differentiator which affects customer behavior.


The patient is at the epicenter of customer engagement strategies. 

Great experiences engage people both rationally and emotionally.  They go beyond siloed interactions. They involve a holistic consideration of customer feelings and needs during an often difficult time. Engagement, goes beyond customer service.  Interaction is deliberately and consistently made meaningful and relevant. 

This experience confirms that patient interaction in the life sciences industry is the epicenter of successful customer engagement strategy.  Despite all the talk and promises, many customers view Life Sciences marketing as pushy and less relevant than before to their goals, priorities, and pain points. Consequently, they find other relevant sources for their needs.

So how do we successfully impact customer behavior, increase sales force effectiveness and drive marketing impact?  Focus on the Process, People Product and Purpose.  How? Who? What? Why? Make the patient a part of the organization.