The problem we are looking to solve is the change in realizing a 360 degree view of your customer for the medical devices industry. Most companies that I deal with are struggling with leveraging customer relationship management (CRM) solutions that live in the cloud versus the traditional ‘on-premise’ applications. In this blog post I will give for you a set of questions to ask so that you can select an IT service provider to help you navigate the technology choices to help your organization reach this goal.
Why medical devices and not pharmaceuticals? Within the business of medical devices you have the normal sales force activities to place your products and services. You also have a service management aspect of medical devices where equipment must be serviced and maintained. The clients I work with are the IT folks that are responsible for ensuring that technology is in place to support the organization, and it is the business that is driving the choice for technology. Ultimately I want to share some pointers on what to ask for to reach a better view of your customer with the right technology.
Let’s begin with how today’s IT solution’s have evolved? ERP solutions have been where customer data has been stored and where sales orders are entered. CRM was an extension of the sales order taking process along with added enhancements for a variety of business activities. Medical device companies have added ‘service management’ activities that are managed. This ranges from dispatching service technicians to service order status and contract management. I also recognize that there is a lot of other activities. The goal for technology was to offer a better view into customer services and a more complete view of your customer.
Can your CRM deliver on a view of your customer?
I came across a great article of “What exactly is a 360-degree view of the customer?”
“The term a “360-degree view of the customer” has been used in the industry for several years. But what exactly does it mean, and what information would you actually display on the agent desktop?
Whenever a customer interacts with an organization, it is vital that the richness of information available on that customer informs and guides the processes that will help to maximize their experience, while simultaneously making the interaction as effective and efficient as possible. This includes everything from avoiding repetition or re-keying of information, to viewing customer history, establishing context and initiating desired actions.
A true 360-degree view needs to include views of the past, present and future:
- The past means providing a meaningful and easily digested view of the customer’s history. This includes product or policy activity, interaction history across all channels, including community, recent product views, campaign activity and process history.
- The present requires presenting key customer information about who they are and how they relate to your organization, but also requires determining the context of the call. Is there a recent order or current fault, why are they interacting with us now?
- The future relates to actions that can be initiated to guide the future of the relationship. Is the customer likely to churn? Are there up-sell or cross-sell opportunities or targeted messages to bring in at this time?
Delivering on the 360-degree view is not simply about having a unified database of all activity, but rather being able to pull together the pieces of information that are relevant for a specific customer and specific interaction into an intuitive workspace for the agent or the customer.”
CRM Sales force automation (SFA) has several solutions that business folks can readily adopt. They include Saleforce.com and Veeva. They give a cloud based solution that can easily do all the functions of gathering ‘present’ day information around your clients and prospects. They also offer the flexibility to offer reports and data so that account reps can easily access via their mobile devices. This puts the traditional ERP packages at a distinct disadvantage because they cannot be easily upgraded with similar functions. Customizing these applications is not a cost effective solution.
The key for many folks considering these solutions is the total cost of ownership (TCO) between the ‘on-demand’ versus the traditional applications. Keep in mind the annual maintenance costs can be higher than expected for some of these applications and there is a cost around developing “integration” points between these packages for your key business processes.
CRM Service Management (SM) from the ERP vendors has all the necessary integration so that your customers can get information not only on their service orders they can use data on the products they own. Customer service agents can easily dispatch field service reps and they can get access to data on the nature of the repair or service needed before the customer site visit. This can happen today because most IT solutions have extended their solutions to work with today’s mobile applications.
So far there are very few customer implementations of ‘on-demand’ service management. Be sure to ask for references when someone tells you they’ve done this in the past.
How to realize a 360 degree view of you customer?
The clients I speak with today have multiple systems that the organization must use to gain this insight. First start by organizing the key items you want your field folks to have to ‘improve’ customer satisfaction? You need to think through ‘business process interaction.’ What do you need from your SFA application and your SM application for a given business process outcome. Remember it is not just present day information your looking to have, it is this plus history and future data around expiring contracts and new service programs that will help your customer facing folks be more ‘effective.’
I would ask your IT service providers the following questions:
- Share examples of where you’ve done Best Practices or Business Process assessments around either sales force automation and/or service management?
- Do you have capabilities with ‘on-demand’ applications like Veeva or Salesforce.com?
- What kind of ability does your firm have around the ‘on-premise’ applications (SAP, Oracle and Microsoft)?
- Do you have industry expertise in Medical Devices?
- Can have you done ‘benefits’ or ‘value’ realization assessments?
My clients are asking for help because the business as asking for change. The business wants to sell more and yet they may not have all the tools necessary to deal with your customers. Asking these questions of your IT service providers can help you find the needed help in reaching a 360 degree view of your customer.
Like many folks I recently purchased my first tablet. So the purpose of this blog post is to understand where these devices can help, and how best to use them. I wrote a blog post back on February 14, 2011 entitled “Managing my data…” in which I described that we are far from being able to easily manage and support our personal health records. Enter the tablet and with the use of cloud computing we can easily manage our data across multiple devices, and yet this blog post is intended to focus on how the tablet will ‘improve’ the way we process and manage new data.
I would like to focus on three areas where the use of my new Apple iPad device is changing the way we process data. This includes:
- Improved Productivity
- Ability to apply new applications to fit our lifestyle
The tablet is the logical next step in the evolution of the computer, and will soon replace my laptop. In the article “What does the Future Hold for Tablet Devices?” the author highlights the key areas of technological improvements around the devices. I’ve been around long enough to see how technology has rapidly evolved – from the early personal computers to the laptop to the tablet.
Smaller, faster and with a better display – so much for the ‘wow’ factor. What can I do with this device? The first areas I find appealing is around the replacement of paper notebooks. Most of us carry around a 5 by 7 lined notebook (or something similar) and with our favorite pen we ‘write’ down key thoughts and ideas for work – or for a new blog post. Since I am not a very fast typist I never got use to using my laptop to ‘write down’ for work or pleasure. Call my old fashion I still enjoy writing notes with a fountain pen (if you can believe that…). I’m now using my new device to replace my trusty notebook as the media for writing down these ideas.
Ability to apply new applications to fit our lifestyle
The tablet will only improve your productivity if you can find the right applications (apps) to help with specific tasks. I am using the following apps for ‘taking notes:’
- Memo from MyScript – offers a notepad user interface to allow you to write notes. This program does a great job of character recognition and converting your handwriting into text. You can then email your text or image as well as post this to Evernote, Facebook or Twitter. The cost is $2.99 and highly recommended.
- 7notesHD – is an app with other capabilities to organize your ‘notebook’ pages with ‘cabinets’ (I think of these as folders) and tags. You can mix typed text with handwritten notes and for $8.99 will convert your handwritten notes into text. You can also send your note in either text or pdf formats as an email or to Twitter, Facebook, Evernote or to an application, and if you have the right kind of ‘air’ printer – you can print our your work, and recommended.
Another great use of the iPad is around the ability to gather and read articles across the Internet. The tablet is a great vehicle for presenting news (including the WSJ, FoxNews, Mashable, Flipboard, Business Insider, Readability, Drudge Free, and iHealthBeat) which are apps that can be found for free in iTunes. I am also using the tablet to read books from Apple’s iBook and an app that connect me to my local library called OverDrive. Library’s are moving to digital and providing both eBooks and Audio books that can be downloaded (or checked out) using this app. Finally if magazines are to stay viable in this new digital market they have to become more interactive. One magazine that I do enjoy reading is Wired. The subscription includes both a print and iPad version. I prefer the iPad version since the articles are ‘interactive’ including movie clips of the topic, product or data.
This translates into several areas for using the tablet device.
- I believe it will be a matter of time before we ditch the laptop for the tablet.
- Better ‘learning’ experience since you can ‘easily’ use this device anywhere. The battery on my new device goes for about ten to twelve hours before it needs recharging!
- More and more ‘sales’ activity is happening on the tablet. Since I’m involved in IT services the hottest area is around customer relationship management (CRM). Where sales reps are using tablets as an extension of the backend ERP systems. In Service management – field engineers are using tablets to log repair orders and gather pertinent product information.
In the article “It’s the Experience That Sells” the tablet provides a more ‘personal’ dialog around that area that you are presenting. In working with my clients there is a different approach using the iPad which give a more intimate way of presenting your product or service. I am still going through different ways of using my new iPad. I will plan to revisit how personal health record data fits in with this device, so in the meantime I am having fun with my new iPad. Feel free to offer a comment or update on any of the apps I’ve described.
This month my focus is on Supply Chain in Life Sciences. As we head towards the end of the year budgets are being planned and IT projects are being prioritized for next year. Many companies are reviewing their current IT investments in light of mergers and acquisitions and projects that will add to the company’s business ability. My discussions have been around how best to improve your operations at a minimal cost. No one seems to want to buy new IT systems and they want to extract ‘value’ from their current IT systems.
Time to ‘Tune-up’ your Supply Chain
Ask yourself if you are getting the most from your current Supply Chain? Do you feel you’re gotten significant return from your SAP or Oracle investment? It seems everyone had one of these IT solutions. I believe the reason most companies should be looking at their Supply Chain is as follows:
- Most firms have invested in IT solutions to help react quickly and expect demand. We now are moving to ‘collaborative’ business processes as a means for extracting added value from your partners.
- Companies need to give supply chain ‘visibility’ so that the organization can make faster and better decisions.
- Business process improvements need re-training for your people.
I get this now how do I get there?
The answer is to create a ‘road-map’ for your supply chain that includes opportunities (projects) specific to your business systems. The key is how to develop this road-map. You need to have the following:
- Supply Chain experts that can analyze your data and processes.
- IT ability to look at how your SAP or Oracle solutions have been installed.
- Our company has developed a unique set of tools that can analyze your Demand, Supply and Inventory.
We’ve created a project approach to this kind of analysis. Over the next few months I plan to promote this approach for Life Sciences and yet this approach is not just for this industry. I know this can be applied for any industry that is looking to get more value out of their IT investment in supply chain. As we gain traction in the market I hope to offer some proof points to this approach.
I would be interested in your comments and suggestions on this topic.