How can you have customer service if you don’t know who your customer is?

JD Power just recently put out its report on customer service, “Achieving Excellence in Customer Service: The Brands That Deliver What U.S. Customers Want” (you can get a copy from JD Power by filling out their form here). The report identifies 40 Customer Service Champions:

2011 Customer Service Champions represent a variety of different industries, from financial services to utilities. While many of these are well-known national brands, others are less well-known regional brands. Yet, all have one thing in common: they do more than deliver on their customers’ expectations—they exceed those expectations and, in the process, raise the bar for their competition.

There was not even one pharmaceutical mentioned among the 40 Customer Service Champions, which is both not a surprise (drugs are really more product, than service) and a surprise (after all, most of us use these products daily to keep healthy). For example, shouldn’t Lipitor users who use the product daily have a better relationship with Pfizer than with Wegman’s Pharmacy, where they might fill their prescription, but only see once a month at refills?

According to JD Powers, an “attribute that often distinguishes the best from the rest is the ability to communicate proactively, not just reactively.” For example, it cites Wegman’s, which “proactively provides customers with price information on lower-cost generic alternatives.” Great idea — communicating information to your customer creates value (no doubt Wegman’s will be communicating the availability of generic Lipitor later this year!).

However, in order for Wegman’s Pharmacy or any of the other company, to do this they first need to know who their customer is. Unfortunately, this is where pharmaceutical industry has just half the answer — and some might even say less than half the answer. Ask any pharmaceutical who their “top writers” are and they can produce long spreadsheets detailing which physicians are prescribing their product. Ask them who their patients are and you’re not likely to get much (perhaps a list of those patients who have complained to customer service).

Consequently, part of the equation has been figured out — knowing the physicians who must write the prescriptions — but the really valuable part of the formula has been left out — the patients who pay for and take the drug.

So, here’s my “Boxcutters Better Thinking” thought — You can’t have great customer service if you don’t know who your customer is.

Not knowing puts you at a considerable disadvantage. To go back to the earlier example, when there is a change in the market — such as, the introduction of generic Lipitor — Pfizer won’t know who to turn to communicate the value of Lipitor over the generic. So, if you don’t know who your customer, find out!

PS — This is one of things we do at hcCatalyst: find patients (but that’s for another day and another post!).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: