Customer relationship management (CRM) programs have become increasingly popular in the healthcare industry as the demand for more personalized brand interaction grows. They have been a successful tool for connecting with customers regularly and keeping the brand top of mind. Having this central hub allows brands to manage conversations with their customers at a greater level than ever before. There are a number of factors driving the need for integrating a CRM program in order for any brand to remain competitive:

  • Engagement: The shift to more patient-centric marketing and relationship management is a direct result of customers demanding more personalized communications. They expect brands to know who they are and what their specific needs are
  • Efficiency: With over 20% of advertising and brand interaction taking place online today (second only to television in total spend), it has become essential to not only engage customers frequently, but also through multiple channels. The only way to accomplish this efficiently is with a CRM program that prevents brands from experiencing the loss of potential customers, either due to lack of communications or failing to drive them to a clear call to action. A CRM program allows for continued engagement and maintaining awareness beyond the initial brand interaction

Many articles have been written about how to build successful CRM programs and establish a positive ROI for clients. Yet, many companies have difficulties achieving goals set up for their CRM programs. Why does this happen, and what can we do to fix it? Below are some of the common problems companies face when implementing a new program, along with some solutions to help avoid them.

Problem

  • Strategic planning and technology demands: The crucial task of mapping out the entire program before development is the biggest obstacle. Launching a new CRM program often requires time consuming upfront planning, as well as integrating complicated technology. Not only must the team determine whom they are targeting and how often communications will be delivered, but they must also strategically select messaging for each of those engagements – What does this customer want to hear? What is the story we want to tell them? Next, the technology team must develop the tools to execute the program and gather vital metrics that will help assess ROI and allow for expansion later on

Solution

  • Start early and be organized: Mapping out a new CRM program can take months due to all of the decisions that have to be made early on. It is imperative that the team starts planning early so the process is not rushed. It is also crucial that teams work well together so they can be efficient with their time. When multiple departments have to work closely together to complete a difficult assignment, it usually works best to have one person (or a small group) in charge of the entire operation. Then, the leader(s) can understand both the strategy and technology sides and mediate any discussions requiring both groups

Problem

  • Unsure of target audience needs or expectations: Customers today have greater expectations than ever when interacting with brands and receiving product information. One of the biggest mistakes a brand can make is not truly knowing their audience and providing customized messaging based on their needs. This can result in losing the customer’s attention and missing the opportunity to establish a long-term relationship with that individual

Solution

  • Know your target audience: Your audience’s needs and expectations should influence every decision made during the planning and execution process – from the early rounds of top-level strategizing to post-launch feedback and analysis. This doesn’t mean you have to do a full-blown round of market research; research on a smaller scale (online surveys or focus groups) or other types of assessments to ensure efficacy of the program, supplemented by existing data your client has gathered over the years, can point you in the right direction. If customers are getting what they expect, they will be more motivated to remain loyal to the brand and welcome future engagements

Problem

  • Unclear definition of what success looks like: A common oversight when launching any new program is failing to define what success looks like. Companies who do not outline a definition for success at the start often struggle to do so when it matters most (ie, when decisions about the future of the program and additional funding need to be made). This can be a costly mistake if proper tracking functions haven’t been built into the program software, potentially making it impossible to assess engagements later down the road. It is also important to set reasonable and achievable goals. Oftentimes, expectations are set too high for what actually can be measured and achieved, leading to an outcome that can be mislabeled as a failure

Solution

  • Ask the right questions: There are a variety of key performance indicators (KPIs) that can be set for CRM programs, such as the number of program sign-ups, e-mails opened, or videos watched. The key is to ask the right questions up front. What are we trying to get out of this? What are our customers expecting? And most importantly, how do we measure whether customers are satisfied?  Make sure everyone involved knows what the goals are from the start, and that those goals are readily measurable

 

This article provides a basic overview of some common CRM pitfalls that can be avoided. Following these simple recommendations is a good start for any company launching a new program for their product, brand, or organization. Thorough research and careful planning can help avoid many of the obstacles outlined above and set up the program to be a success.

Ken is a great deal more than just the president of a medical communications company. He is something of a hybrid. He’s part marketing manager, part creative director, and part copywriter. To the chagrin of his peers—but to the delight of his clients—Ken is a consummate perfectionist. As a former creative director for a high-end consumer agency, he challenged his creative teams to go beyond the mundane to produce work with real creative impact, something he’s just as fervent about today. From producing and directing TV commercials, to launching DTC and Rx-to-OTC switches, Ken brings his clients a world of experience in OTC pharmaceuticals as well as business, lifestyle, and high-end consumer products and services. Whether huddled with clients behind a mirror in a market research center in Houston, facilitating a strategic workshop in Madrid, or developing a global campaign either in the New Jersey or California office, Ken is always fully engaged, bringing “bestness” to all areas of his hectic but full life.