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Negative provider experiences with oncology manufacturers affect value, report finds

 New ZS analysis shows improved pharmaceutical customer experience can add significant value

EVANSTON, Ill. – March 24, 2016 – Physicians don’t rate oncology pharmaceutical companies on Yelp, but if they did, manufacturers might be surprised. A recent survey of doctors, nurses and administrators showed the oncology industry severely lags behind other industries in the customer experience that manufacturers deliver. In fact, 80 percent of the oncology manufacturers studied earned negative “net promoter scores” from physicians.

In its first oncology-focused Customer Experience Tracker, global sales and marketing firm ZS surveyed nearly 260 oncologists, oncology nurses and administrators about their experiences with 20 of the most prominent oncology therapy manufacturers, and analyzed their responses. ZS also reviewed claims data from Symphony Health Solutions, a provider of market research, analytics and technology solutions for life science manufacturers, researchers, payers and providers.   

"With customer feedback instantaneously available on review sites such as Yelp, other industries now realize the importance of a good experience on customer acquisition and retention. Similarly, we measured net promoter scores for the top 20 oncology companies and found customer satisfaction and loyalty are mostly negative,” said ZS Managing Principal Jon Roffman. “But there is hope. While many oncology companies already meaningfully engage with some of their customers, most could benefit from a more coordinated, consistent and positive customer experience. ZS's Customer Experience Tracker demonstrates substantial potential for oncology companies to increase utilization of the life-saving therapies they manufacture.”

The firm concluded that by enhancing customer experience, oncology companies can significantly boost impact in today's highly competitive oncology market. In fact, ZS estimates oncology companies could add $50 million to $75 million in incremental sales for every $1 billion in current sales. Most importantly, a better provider experience creates more opportunities to engage in discussions on these life-saving therapies for patients who need them most.

Oncologists experience lagging customer service

During the next five years, oncology drug makers will target 13,000 oncologists with more than 75 new products. The sheer volume of new compounds and indications, combined with oncologists’ increasing reluctance to meet with drug sales reps (73 percent of oncologists restrict access to sales reps, according to the 2015 AccessMonitor™ report), will force companies to find more effective ways to reach physicians.

“Value” in the U.S. health care system is often associated with safety, efficacy and cost of therapy. Though these factors matter most, a positive customer experience – whether online or in-person – makes it easier for providers and patients to understand their treatment options and benefit from innovative oncology therapies.

ZS’s Customer Experience Tracker also found companies with low net promoter scores struggle to gain access to physicians. Reps from those companies were seen by 63 percent of oncologists they targeted (and could not meet with 37 percent), while reps from companies with high net promoter scores met with 93 percent of oncologists they targeted. Further, 39 percent of health care respondents exchanged emails with their highest-rated company, compared with only 16 percent who corresponded with their lowest-rated company.

“The first instinct is to assume that the products drive both the physician’s perception of the company and the degree to which the doctor will engage. The study demonstrates that products only drive one-third of the customer experience. Other factors that companies can proactively manage – such as sales force effectiveness and online engagement – account for about two-thirds of the customer experience,” said ZS Managing Principal Maria Whitman. "For oncology manufacturers with multibillion-dollar portfolios, an evolved customer experience that meets the needs of providers and patients can create incremental opportunity equivalent to the launch of a small new product."

Enhance customer experience with rep orchestration, customer-centric marketing

Fortunately, oncology companies can pursue several strategies to improve customer experience. ZS’s Customer Experience Tracker found factors most important to the customer experience include customer service and support, easily accessible and knowledgeable sales reps, and a focus on patient needs.

“A world-class customer experience is increasingly important in today’s crowded oncology market, and we believe it will be absolutely critical to differentiate oncology companies in the future. Driving this customer experience often requires manufacturers to shift their mindsets from an internal product focus to an external customer focus,” said ZS Oncology Manager Pranav Srivastava, who co-led the study. “Purposefully designed and executed customer experience programs – combined with ‘orchestrator reps’ and multichannel customer interactions – will see the best results.”

To see the full results of ZS's Customer Experience Tracker, please visit http://bit.ly/1pZG7KP.

About ZS

ZS is the world’s largest firm focused exclusively on helping companies improve overall performance and grow revenue and market share, through end-to-end sales and marketing solutions – from customer insights and strategy to analytics, operations and technology. More than 4,500 ZS professionals in 22 offices worldwide draw on deep industry and domain expertise to deliver impact for clients across multiple industries. To learn more, visit www.zs.com or follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Greg Austin
Director, Marketing & Communication, ZS

Anahita Wadia Khan / Kyle Adams
Sikich Marketing & Public Relations