Fast, friction-free and informative communications between pharma and its customers are more vital than ever in this COVID era — here's how WhatsApp can step up and support the sector and its reps.
Faced with multiple lockdowns, restrictions and often frightening statistics, it's been the Herculean efforts of the pharma sector that have finally offered the world a potential way out of this cruel pandemic. By innovating with the latest vaccine technology (combined with a healthy dose of competition), pharma has risen to meet the COVID challenge and exceeded expectations.
However, away from the headlines, the ability for physicians and customers to obtain and secure non pandemic-related pharma products and treatments remains as vital as ever. With timley and explanatory information from pharmas and their representatives, over-stretched physicians can treat their customers more effectively and efficiently. That's even more critical now as many physicians and their patients are already anxious about how the pandemic has pulled resources away from non COVID-related health issues.
Why messaging platforms are the right prescription for pharma
To ensure such expectations and concerns are successfully managed, pharma companies — like leading telco and airline brands before them — are exploring messaging's potential to deliver better CX by taking a steer from retail's 'clienteling 2.0'. This sees, say, a fashion outlet agent creating a personalized journey for their customers — from greetings to offerings based on their past purchases — using mobile tech in conjunction with popular messaging platforms.
Such a chat app-based approach to CX is an ideal fit for the pharma sector, enabling it to offer a personalized service to often busy physicians for multiple use cases. For instance, consider the doctor who needs product information but has little time to research, or is looking for further details on a drug that a patient has asked about. A pharma acting as a trusted source of information can provide more details on a particular medication or research .
The ideal chat app for offering such versatile CX is WhatsApp, the leading messaging platform in 105 countries, meaning it's already installed on many people's phones and used in their everyday lives. This ubiquity can help pharma also avoid relying solely on channels such as potentially costly SMS solutions, antiquated email — and its low read rates — or individual brand-specific apps that many customers simply don't want cluttering up their phones.
How WhatsApp helps pharmas support physicians at every stage
That's the big pitch anyway — but what are the specific use cases for pharma and its reps once physicians have chosen to opt into the WhatsApp channel?
Informing treatment choices
As the pandemic has proven, pharma is constantly innovating. The bad news though? Many physicians can struggle to stay up to date with the sector's latest offerings. WhatsApp can help pharma reps provide timely updates on new products and treatments as well as quickly help physicians identify the best existing treatment choices for their patients. Recommended online resources and research seminars can also be sent to physicians at the push of a button if requested as well as automated answers to common questions (see Introducing Accessibility).
Providing rich content
Sending out information about new and existing products or services is not restricted to plain text; the WhatsApp Business API also allows reps to deliver rich media including images, PDFs, audio, and more to physicians. Setting up meetings to discuss products and treatments is also friction-free with details, times, and location (with associated maps if required) all delivered in-app.
Pharmacists can also benefit with reps able to send out reminders about refreshing stock levels based on past ordering patterns. This removes the need for pharmacists to constantly check their inventories, in turn optimizing their workflows as well as building further trust with the pharma and its efficiency.
How WhatsApp improves pharma relations with customers
The messaging platform's 'clienteling 2.0' experience can also serve end customers, enhancing their experience with the pharma brand through personalization:
Optimizing customer care
It's vital that customers fully understand every aspect of their treatment. From general product information to answering concerns about potential side effects, WhatsApp can help pharma customer services offer more comprehensive and accessible support:
Use case: How WhatsApp supports customers during treatments
Becky is about to start on a new medication prescribed by her doctor.
- Becky opts into the pharma's WhatsApp service using a QR code featured on the medication's packaging.
- The pharma sends a message detailing the drug's basic information, asking if Becky requires any further assistance.
- Becky requests more details about possible side effects.
- The pharma sends an easy-to-read PDF featuring side effects information.
- The pharma asks Becky if she would like to receive notifications each day to remind her when she needs to take her medicine.
- Becky agrees and starts her treatment with reminders arriving via WhatsApp twice a day.
WhatsApp allows customers to question pharma's customer services about the brand's products either via one-to-one conversations in-app with live agents or for more general information, by interacting with a chatbot, which can be integrated with the messaging platform. The latter can be used to answer simple FAQs through a series of lists and buttons. These enable the customer to navigate to answers to the most common questions about a particular product, removing the need for them to, say, send an email — and wait for a response — or make a phone call.
Improving operational efficiency
The ability to service customers through WhatsApp reduces pressure on contact center operations as well. By rolling out IVR deflection (call-to-messaging deflection), a customer waiting in a phone queue to speak to a live agent can be redirected to WhatsApp in moments for a quicker resolution to their query or complaint. If more in-depth information is required, their query can be handed over to a live agent. As well as offering better CX for the customer, deflection also cuts call center costs for pharmas while reducing pressure on call center staff.
Why integrating WhatsApp into existing pharma systems is simple and secure
While such wide-ranging functionality offers clear benefits to pharma sector CX, such gains would be meaningless if WhatsApp didn't offer the necessary security and privacy features required for the sharing of often highly sensitive information.
To ensure data is protected at every stage, the messaging platform offers two-factor authentication and full end-to-end encryption as well as official business account verification badges to confirm — and protect — pharma brand identities and reputations. If a WhatsApp solution is sourced via a reputable official WhatsApp provider like tyntec, any customer data stored on behalf of the pharma will be automatically compliant with strict regulations including GDPR.
To ensure a smooth implementation, tyntec also offers full integration with existing CRM solutions with any information gleaned from WhatsApp-based chats with physicians and customers fed back into the pharma's database. This ensures reps and service agents are always working with the very latest information, a vital capability in such a sensitive and time-critical sector.
Ultimately, WhatsApp represents an opportunity for a sector already committed to innovation to now break new ground in customer experience. By implementing the right strategy, delivered by one of the most popular channels in the word, pharma can ensure that physicians and customers alike are able to continue receiving the maximum possible benefit from the sector's life-changing work.