Hannover, 06.03.2023


Last week, my colleague Marcos Garcia Villas addressed the topic of what questions you, as a life sciences company, should sensibly ask yourself in relation to customers in order to obtain relevant data for customer engagement and to derive suitable measures from this. Following on from this, I would therefore like to dedicate this article to the following three questions: “What types of customer data are there?“, “Which systems are used to capture and map this data?” and “How do you prepare the data for analysis?”
Because merely knowing what questions I should ask in relation to customers will not get me the results I’m looking for. It is essential to find the answers to the questions in the customer data and to link this data to be able to derive relevant statements for measures.

In this regard, the following considerations will help you:

What types of data on HCPs already exist in your organization?

Not all data is the same. To gain insights and derive measures from them, it is important to classify and structure the data. Generally, 5 different types of data can be distinguished, which I would like to describe briefly below:

Demographic data in the life sciences environment includes age, gender, title, HCP type, 1st and 2nd specialty, language, and in some markets, religion, ethnicity, and nationality. Demographic data usually forms the foundation for further segmentation of customers. For both HCPs and HCOs, the data is either already historically available and managed in-house or, as is predominantly the case, it is purchased or rented through an external data provider.

For one, this includes all data collected in connection with activities, e.g., through which channels and how often and with what frequency a company has interacted with the customer. On the other hand, this also includes the data that provide information about his or her preferences. This includes preferences regarding the type of channels by means of which contacts are made. But also interesting are the preferences regarding their own products, i.e., how their prescribing behavior is and whether they are loyal to the life sciences company. In the case of pharmacies and other HCOs that make direct purchases, these data need to be added, of course

    • What has been bought?
    • How much has been bought?
    • When did the purchase take place?
    • How often are purchases made? Etc.

Activity data, in particular, has typically been collected for years. These data provide insight into trends within the customer group, in terms of individual channels, both traditional and new, and also on whether customers are less accessible due to the pandemic and have e.g., been flagged as appointment doctors.

This data is basically concerned with where the HCP operates. Since clients may well be active in multiple health care organizations, this data informs HCP movements, but also when they may be encountered in each HCO. As a final note, they also provide information on position and job changes or new hires in individual HCOs.

Compared to other industries, technographic data collected through HCPs may seem less relevant at first glance. Thus, they only describe with which devices, operating systems and browsers customers have accessed content of individual channels such as e-mail, video conferences, websites, or online events. Nevertheless, the information is especially informative for marketing to get a feeling for whether e.g., CLM presentations or website appearances are being well received by the customer, regardless of the browser used or the screen resolution selected. They also inform about the digital affinity of the HCP.

These data allow insights into what inclinations, opinions, interests, and priorities an HCP has. For one, they certainly position the customer furthest into the spotlight since they allow assessments of the way in which a customer would like to be addressed. Based on them, it is possible to assess whether the customer is more of a family, scientific or, e.g., economically minded type. At the same time, however, it is also the most complex data to collect and can only be ascertained with a corresponding amount of effort.

Now that we know what types of data there can be on HCPs and HCOs, let’s look at where this data is being mapped and captured in the 2nd part of this article.

In which systems is customer data being recorded?

Not all the above data is collected by only one system. The list of tools used to capture data can be as manageable as it can be endless. The following list of systems that are commonly used to collect data on HCPs and HCOs in life sciences companies is therefore not claiming to be exhaustive, but rather represents the most important and most common solutions only:

CRM System

Whether a life sciences company uses Veeva CRM, OCE from IQVIA, salesforce or another system as a customer relationship management solution is not something we will discuss any further here. All CRM systems have in common that they serve to record all activities of the persons of a life science company who have contacts with HCPs and HCOs, in order to make an important contribution to the so-called 360° view of the customer. In this context, we also refer to this as customer centricity. All the channels that a Sales Rep, for example, uses to contact HCPs can be mapped in modern CRM solutions. Channels, such as:

  • visits, f2f contacts or in-person calls,

  • remote calls or video conferences

  • events and

  • phone calls,

  • Rep Triggered E-Mail including consent capture,

  • fax

represent both traditional forms of contact as well as modern and digital ones.

In addition to the basic demographic data and the pure activity data, however, all other types of data are also recorded and mapped in a CRM system. To name a few examples:

    • Geographic data, e.g. through data change requests
    • Technographic data, such as:
      • Participation in remote calls via a browser or using certain apps, like Veeva Engage
    • Recorded questions from the HCP in Approved Notes or Compliant Chat during remote calls or online events, if being used
    • Psychographic data , e.g. in the form of
      • feedback on individual CLM presentation slides and key messages
      • opening of Rep triggered emails received
      • clicks on links in rep triggered emails
      • medical inquiries that allow conclusions to be drawn about prescribing behavior, but also about HCP interests
      • Assessment and experience of the sales representative or MSL on specific issues.

Occasionally, individual data can also be assigned to different types of data or allow corresponding conclusions to be drawn. For example, an HCP’s participation in a remote call informs me, on one level, that there is a digital affinity. At the same time, the customer’s dial-up also indicates that he sees the remote call channel as a valuable alternative to other channels and that he would like to use his time flexibly as well as productively.

But before we turn to the next system under consideration, I would like to briefly return to the assessment or experience aspect of the field force or MSL. The observations of the HCP’s direct contacts are immensely valuable as they are gained directly through customer interactions. Openly expressed feedback on presented content, individual contributions from rep triggered emails or participation in events as well as the associated conclusions can only be obtained as so-called insights by the named groups of people. Nevertheless, a life sciences company must ensure that the digital storage of such insights complies with existing data protection regulations. After all, it is imperative to avoid violating one’s own compliance regulations and the code-of-conduct guidelines of the FSA, vfa, or any other association to which one is affiliated. Solutions such as Approved Notes or Compliant Chat can support in this regard.

Campaign Management System

A system used as part of an omnichannel strategy, such as Marketo, Adobe Campaign, or Salesforce Marketing Cloud, allows the planning, execution, and evaluation of email marketing campaigns as part of the customer journey management. These systems must contain demographic data on the HCPs, as well as activity data in the form of e-mail addresses and the associated opt-ins, i.e., the customers’ consent to use their e-mail addresses. Once again, the additional data collected can generally be subdivided into different types of data. Opening such an e-mail as well as clicking on a link in the e-mail, the subsequent visit to a website and the time spent on it are both technographic and psychographic data and, in turn, allow corresponding conclusions to be drawn with regard to interests, surfing behavior and times at which an HCP engages with topics of the type conveyed.

Order Management System / ERP System

Systems through which orders are entered by HCOs in CHC and OTC, for example, as well as ERP systems where direct sales are being recorded, provide valuable activity and behavioral data on what HCOs have ordered and in what quantities, time periods and batches. In addition, they provide information on orders that were placed only as part of corresponding promotions, discounts granted to HCOs, payment behavior, and whether the purchaser acted individually or as part of a buying group, as is regularly the case with pharmacies.

Accordingly, it is then also possible to evaluate which HCOs belong to this composite in order to identify networks and dependencies. This data can then again be assigned to other types of data, e.g., geographic data regarding the distribution of HCOs within a purchasing group, but also psychographic data regarding purchasing behavior. Did the order volume increase or decrease? Were orders always placed only as part of promotional offers? And in terms of direct sales recorded in the ERP system: what proportion did Ex Factory, Base or Market Sales account for?

Events and Contract Management System
  • For the mapping of processes in event and contract management, there are systems that can do everything, such as Cvent, or different systems that only map sub-processes and are orchestrated accordingly, such as a combination of
    • Cvent for the management of event venues and the invitations of attendees,
    • a common CRM system for the management of the overall process,
    • a spending and expense solution such as Concur,
    • and a system for managing related contracts, such as Adobe Sign or DocuSign.

In each case, existing demographic, activity, and behavioral data are used to plan, approve, organize, and document events, as well as to manage HCPs as contractors with their hourly and daily rates and contracts. The data obtained during this process, both regarding the participants and the speakers, moderators or consultants commissioned, provide information on all other types of data, but in particular on psychographic data such as:

    • Who is presenting on which topic and why?
    • Which HCPs are interested?
    • Who attends an onsite, remote or hybrid event?
    • Where are the invited HCPS coming from at an onsite event?
    • Who asked what question and who provided answers?
    • What magnetism do certain speakers and attendees have on other HCPs?

Now that we have looked at what types of data there are and in which systems they are recorded and mapped, we come to the last question of this article.

How can data be prepared for customer engagement?

As we have seen, customer data is captured in a variety of systems, even those that are not primarily intended for such purposes. These include, for example, web and mail servers, which collect customer data to the extent that they are used to route content to customers or make it available to them, as well as to track any reactions that may have taken place, such as opening and click-through rates. To evaluate customer engagement for HCPs, data needs to be aggregated into one system. There are several different approaches that can be taken into consideration here.

The consolidation can be done in a data warehouse or data lake. It is possible to use a master data management system (MDM) introduced specifically for this purpose, however, the CRM system itself can also be used for this task. Finally, a so-called Customer Data Platform (CDP) also comes into question. The advantage of such a consolidation, e.g. in a CDP, is that the data can be matched, merged, de-duplicated, cleansed and enriched during the transformation to obtain a unified customer profile. Such customer profiles, also called “golden records”, provide a complete view of the HCP, including every touchpoint and, in the case of HCOs, every transaction.

Customer data management solutions are the key to enabling optimized marketing and sales processes. As already described, the solutions must extract data from other systems such as eCommerce platforms, websites, CRM systems and other apps, before converting it into a format that can be used by many business units and departments in life sciences companies, with the marketing team being the most important.
When connecting all the systems involved, it is also important that, in addition to the interfaces, links are set from the satellite systems into the Customer Data Management solution as the leading system, which not only regulate the flow of data, but also enables navigation for end users with the appropriate authorization.

Before we delve further into the interaction of all the systems involved, next week we will first devote ourselves to the topic of what data a life sciences company can use to show that the HCP is engaged.


About me
Hello, I’m Alexander Fiedler. As a customer engagement expert I have gained diverse experience in the areas of customer relationship management and customer engagement in the life sciences industry over the past 22 years. I look forward to meeting with you in person to provide insight on how you can achieve successful engagement in the future.

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