Can a Brand Really “Know” You?

We recently heard a story about a professional woman at a conference. She’s in her mid-fifties. Her hair is well styled and her dress and jacket are beautifully tailored. She seems just a little heavy for her height but her posture is truly elegant. Her smile is warm and engaging. During a break, she chats with others.

She starts a conversation with a young woman who, she soon learns, holds high career aspirations. She shares thoughts and advice as the younger woman speaks of her experience and goals. Near the end of the conversation, the 30-something young woman says, “I am so envious of you and your life. You are so successful. You have a really great life. It’s exactly what I want.” The mid-fifties woman smiles, thanks the younger woman for the compliment and wishes her success with her dreams.

As she leaves, the elder woman marvels at the innocence of the words. The younger woman could not know that sudden death had just taken the elder woman’s beloved husband, that a recent spinal fusion meant she was wearing a thick plastic body cast beneath her dress and that financial circumstances threatened her future.

Personas Define the “Who”

Similar to the younger woman, many companies see “target customers” as just a list of demographics—female, 45 to 65, professional, median household income. These qualities are much too high-level to deliver a true Customer Experience (CX). Demographic profiles don’t provide details about needs, goals, attitudes, behaviors or emotions, and are just too far from reality and what the customer is actually doing and feeling. Personas, on the other hand, are up close and personal—literally.

Annette Franz (Gleneicki), author of the blog, CX Journey, defines personas as “fictional characters used to describe an ideal prospect or an actual customer going through some scenario with a brand. They outline the motivations, goals, behaviors, challenges, likes, dislikes, objections and interests that drive decisions, or what he wants to achieve.”

Using personas to define your customers allows a shift in thinking from a general “target audience” approach to an actionable definition of “individuals.” Personas bring you one step closer to a Customer Experience (CX) and allow development of a personalized experience that will change behavior and drive customer loyalty. To design and deliver a great Customer Experience (CX), brand teams must first know who their customers are, what they’re trying to achieve (with their products or services), what they’re going through to achieve it and who they’re involved with along the way.

Perform a Customer Experience (CX) Audit

A CX Audit helps brand teams understand what their customers are thinking, feeling and doing during “key moments of impact” along their journey—where decisions are being made, what language gaps exist between patients and their doctors, where the brand and its competitors’ current programs are in relation to these key moments, where they are making an impact, where gaps are, and the recommended actions brand teams can take to enhance customers’ experience during these key moments.

It helps brands develop a Patient Engagement Map (PEM), which visually depicts patients’ experience and treatment endeavors (patient journey), and reveals ways in which the brand can relevantly insert their messages in order to optimize the key moments of impact that will enhance patients’ experiences. Based on what patients are thinking, feeling and doing, the CX Audit also helps define key themes/ideas that can be drafted into preliminary brand messaging for marketing communications.

Essentially, a CX Audit helps brand teams “walk in their customers’ shoes,” understand and live their patients’ inner and outer activities. This empathy is an essential ingredient to delivering a great Customer Experience (CX) for every customer with whom they interact. It’s also the beginning of the customer journey mapping process.

Customer Experience (CX) is a Journey

To focus on the Customer Experience (CX), let’s think about the overall journey, not just about individual touch points. While it’s important to understand these touch points, much of the experience often happens between the touch points—those things that take place outside the doctor’s office, away from online promotion and in casual conversations with friends. Focusing on the entire journey, not solely on individual touch points, yields greater results for the Customer Experience (CX).

Once brand teams know who their customers are, and the focus of their specific customers’ journeys, they can take the next step to “map” that. In fact, mapping at the persona level is much easier and more meaningful than some high-level, meaningless, inactionable target demographic.

Start creating a map by working with a partner experienced in Customer Experience (CX) marketing to define the story’s “characters” and the “logistics” of the journey specific to your target audience—symptoms, online research, lifestyle modification, physician visit, diagnosis, Rx, pharmacy visit, connecting with other patients, etc. Once you understand what’s happening at each touch point along the journey, which characters are involved at each stage, and what’s happening between these touch points, use primary and secondary research (IDIs, social scraping, online bulletin boards, etc.) to define what patients are thinking, feeling and doing at each stage.

This data will not only help inform the specific patient needs at each stage, but when and where she is most receptive to information and tools we can provide (either directly or indirectly). With this information, the brand team can overlay competitive information and determine when and where the unmet needs gaps exist that their brand(s) can own. Once the map is complete, the brand can create a Strategic Brand Map that will clearly align the strategic imperatives with the Customer Experience (CX) and form the roadmap for development of all tactics and promotion.

Sidebar: How to Get to Know Your Customers

Nothing is more important than truly knowing your customers, and you can follow a process that will help maximize your success. Before developing any tactics or marketing communications:

  • Perform a CX Audit
  • Develop a Patient Engagement Map to understand when, where and how your patients want to engage with you
  • Define all the characters in the story and how they interact with each other
  • Map the customer journey and determine the key “moments of impact”
  • Create a Strategic Brand Map that defines the strategic imperatives and tactics that will impact behavior and pull through your objectives
  • Jay Bolling

    Jay Bolling is Executive Chairman at PulseCX. Jay is passionate about developing customer experiences (CX) that influence the decision-making process and leverage “key impact moments” (when customers are most receptive to specific communications) to measurably increase the impact of brand messaging.

  • David Zaritsky

    David Zaritsky is President of PulseCX. David is an expert on Customer Experience (CX) in the pharmaceutical industry. He’s passionate about creating meaningful customer experiences (CX) to patients and physicians by engaging with them through storytelling throughout the patient journey.


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