5 Steps to Create a Frictionless & Differentiating Digital Customer Journey in the Pharma Industry.

Customers in 2020 are highly impatient and significantly less loyal than they used to be. That comes as no surprise. People can buy the same product from a variety of providers with almost no differences in price, packaging, or delivery. Therefore, in a highly commoditized market, brands need to differentiate on aspects that are important to their customers, if they want to outperform their competitors. Customer effort is one of the most important factors that impact customers’ experience and long-term engagement, so it makes sense that smart companies use friction as a means to differentiate. A Gartner study predicts that 89% of businesses are expected to compete mainly on customer experience.

The online environment puts additional pressure on brands to improve their customer journeys. The switching barriers in the online space are minimal, as customers are only one click away from your competitors. The situation becomes even more challenging when your target audience consists of Millennials. They have been raised in the culture of instant gratification and internet democratization. They are highly demanding and have little patience, so any mistake a brand commits will be severely punished.

That means that an “ok” experience will not be sufficient. A Harris Interactive study claims that 89% of consumers have switched to doing business with a competitor based on poor customer experience. A poorly optimized customer journey affects brands of any type, especially OTC generic brands for which customers have alternatives with almost the same effect. With a trend of digitalization that was accelerated by the Coronavirus and an ever-increasing competitive market, Pharma companies need to look at creating an excellent customer journey as their top priority.

Following our decades of experience in applying neuroscience and behavioral science in building customer engagement solutions, we comprised a list of 5 steps that brands can take to create a frictionless & differentiating customer journey.


1. Customer Segmentation

The ideal digital customer journey varies, depending on the customer typology. The differences between people’s digital literacy, goals and motivations makes it very difficult for companies to create a one-size-fits-all journey. A 60-year-old customer that wants to buy his back-pain medicine will desire a completely different journey than a 20 year-old searching for vitamins. Their digital journey expectations, needs, and motivations are substantially different, being influenced by their previous experiences with the digital channel.

The older person is vulnerable to high cognitive load because of his lower digital literacy and thus needs to be handholded during the journey. Older people are more forgiving on technical glitches or an unesthetic design as long as they are able to reach their goals.

The young person, on the other hand, has different needs and expectations about his journey. Being digitally native, he is sensitive to technical glitches and prefers an autonomous experience where he can find the needed information by himself. Chat bots and overly-detailed steps might be highly annoying for this customer, ironically increasing his cognitive load.

These are just a couple of examples, but there are many similar situations in customers’ journeys. Therefore, in the process of designing digital journeys, it is key for companies to know who their users are and have a detailed account of the experience they desire.

Segmenting customers based on their behaviors and expected experiences will enable brands to gather accurate insights about their customers’ journeys and design tailored solutions that will specifically solve the challenges that customers face. Click Here to read more about Customer Journey Mapping.

2. Journey Segmentation

Now that a brand has determined its customer segments, it can start analyzing the particular journey that each segment takes. It is imperative for companies to focus their attention on every single process or phase in the customer journey, as it enables them to single out the friction points that drive customers off.

To get a deeper understanding of customers’ attitudes and perceptions, companies need neurosicence-powered tools that go beyond customers’ declarative biases and identify unbiased and accurate beliefs. Traditional methods of collecting customer feedback are prone to cognitive biases that distort the findings and almost always provide misleading or incomplete insights. The results of customers’ retrospective evaluations of their experiences will almost always be clouded by the peak-end rule and recency biases. Humans have a tendency to only remember the most significant and the last experiences that they had in their interactions with a brand. Therefore, several phases of the journey will be neglected in the post-experience evaluation although they affected the customer at the moment. Neuro-powered tools and frameworks go beyond these biases and capture the deeper and more specific perceptions that customers have. Click here to find ut more about cognitive biases in the Pharmaceutical industry.

Another trap that companies often fall into is analyzing the different journeys a customer goes through, in isolation. This approach leaves no room for synergies, especially when each journey is handled by separate departments. From the company’s perspective, the online, physical and mobile journeys might be separate, but from the customer’s standpoint there is a single journey aimed at helping him reach his goal. Thus, disruptions across any phases of the journey (regardless of the channel) will negatively impact his overall experience. The same applies for healthcare providers or pharmacists that interact with the Pharma producer or distributor on multiple channels.


3. Customer Effort Assessment along the Journey

Measuring the effort that customers put in at every step of their journey is probably the most important step in creating a frictionless digital customer journey. Effort can be measured in a three-dimensional system: physical, time, and cognitive effort. The same process must be applied to every touchpoint to generate quantifiable and comparable results between touchpoints. Analyzing customers’ effort across multiple dimensions is essential in understanding the customer journey, as it allows us to break down the experience into constituent parts. Effort is a cost for all customers but not all effort is the same.

The above-mentioned sophisticated young customers that are digitally savvy are more forgiving on cognitive effort than older customers that have a harder time navigating online. But the same young customers will get frustrated if the journey demands high physical or time effort, like when they need to go to the doctor to get a prescription that they can’t get online. To understand the experience drivers and barriers, we need to look at the journey through our customers’ lenses before we design it. Oftentimes, due to time or budgetary constraints, companies design those journeys based on their internal teams’ beliefs and assumptions, without including the customer in the process. And then they blame it on the customer, because he doesn’t understand the journey.

A journey that is designed with biases from the starting point, will fail to create a good customer experience. Click here to read more about Buyer Brain’s approach to Effort Assessment


4. Identify High Friction Points

Companies should set a standard of “acceptable effort” for each customer segment and each effort dimension. All the touchpoints or processes that require higher effort than the threshold should be flagged, in order to be redesigned.

As we discussed above, the effort customers put in their journeys varies drastically from person to person. Some doctors might spend a disproportionate amount of time and cognitive effort in finding the information that they need on your platform, while others might be frustrated with the onboarding process.

If we find out that people spend too much time on the registration form and that they get frustrated there, then we need to optimize the process and maybe shorten the form. If consumers log in complaints frequently and customer support is slow and ineffective, we should identify the underlying cause and address it.


5. Design & Implement Differentiated Customer Journeys

Now that we have granular insights about each step of the journey, the effort that each interaction requires from different customer segments and we know our customers’ desires and expectations, we can start building differentiated customer journeys that foster long term engagement. By doing a thorough and rigorous analysis of different customers’ journeys, the company gets an accurate and detailed assessment of the aspects and processes that need to be fixed and a deep understanding of the experiences that customers desire.

Building a frictionless and differentiating customer journey is no easy feat. This is actually a process that never really ends, as competitive businesses must constantly find new ways to differentiate themselves. Although it might seem like a long and difficult process, the ROI of creating a customer-centric frictionless customer journey will justify any efforts and expenses.

A research done by Frederick Reichheld shows that a 5% increase in Customer Retention can lead to a substantial 95% increase in profits. To enjoy these benefits, businesses have to take a scientific and rigorous approach when designing their customer journeys. They need to understand the experiences their customers desire and identify engagement drivers and barriers. Failure to do so, will lead them on a wrong path that is driven by their internal teams’ biases and assumptions.

At Buyer Brain we use neuroscience and behavioral sciences to design frictionless & differentiating customer journeys. We triangulate data from multiple sources and combine a wide range of methodologies and frameworks, to unearth accurate and unbiased insights that are used in crafting experiences that foster long-term customer engagement. Click Here  to read more about Jump, our Digital Customer Journey tool.

If you want to hear more information live about effective methods to enhance demand engagement in the Pharmaceutical industry we invite you to our Conference on the 19th of November, 10 PM UK Time. Space is limited so reserve your seat following the next link:


Useful links:

Gartner: https://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/customer-experience-battlefield/

Frederick Reichheld study: https://media.bain.com/Images/BB_Prescription_cutting_costs.pdf

Harris Interactive study results:


Author avatar

Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

We use cookies to give you the best experience.