The Pharmaceutical industry has witnessed dynamic changes over the last few years, including new challenges, from managing complex supply chains to navigating compliance and regulatory requirements. Pharmaceutical companies have a significant need to build relationships with the prescribers and patients, which requires them to take different approaches to communicate effectively with them.
The most effective and efficient option for providing this access is through a call center. But operating an internal call center for most pharmaceutical companies requires significant financial and staff investment. Technology updates and staff training are also continuous and add considerable operating costs.
A more efficient and practical solution is to partner with an outsourcing pharmaceutical call center to provide these services. Since the early 90s, pharmaceutical companies turned to outsourcing their call center to mitigate the burden of managing a support team.
Understanding Pharmaceutical Call Center
Pharma call centers handle a variety of tasks, such as answering questions about prescription medications, managing refill requests, and providing information on drug interactions and side effects. Outsourcing Pharmaceutical customer support helps these companies to effectively create a timely, efficient, and compliant channel of interaction between the healthcare provider and the patient. A Pharmaceutical call center partner provides highly trained personnel, operational efficiencies, and flexibility to scale up or scale down the services.
Some of the most common services offered by Pharmaceutical outsourcing are:
- Medical Information & Support
- Product Support & Order Processing
- Collection of Bills & Payments
- Scheduling Laboratory Tests
- Doctor Appointment Scheduling
- Scheduling Diagnostic Examinations
- Customer Service & Support
When it comes to the Pharma industry, resolving challenges like long hold times, call abandonment rates, average time in queue, speed of answer is important as healthcare is critical. According to a HubSpot report, 68% of consumers say they are willing to pay more for products and services from a brand that offers good customer service experiences. In comparison, 92% will switch to another brand after 2-3 bad experiences.
So, what are the top 5 Pharma call center challenges that outsourcing can solve? Here are the key ones:
Leveraging Call Center Metrics:
Understanding call center metrics is essential in boosting performance in a complex industry like Pharmaceuticals. But if it is not done accurately, then it can hamper the business in a significant way. In a traditional call center in-house setup, the basic metrics like speed to answer and average handling time is analyzed and measured. However, in a Pharma 3.0 disruptive healthcare environment, the patient experience is the most important metric over any other metric.
The patient experience is changing drastically, thanks to the innovation of AI & ML, Blockchain, and other technologies. Today’s consumer wants the same ease and convenience in healthcare as in other industries. Hence, the future of healthcare needs to be more transparent, accessible, digital, and patient-oriented. So, while speed to answer is essential, the quality and authenticity of the answer provided is equally important. Another challenge that Pharmaceutical companies face is the poor analysis and management of data, for which they generally spend a huge amount of time, thus compromising on customer service quality for patients.
One of the best solutions to manage these challenges is to opt for outsourcing Pharmaceuticals call center services to a top BPO company that can store and analyze large amounts of data in one centralized location and suggest actionable insights to be worked upon accordingly. Besides, the outsourcing partner can also help the pharmaceutical company achieve a higher First Call Resolution, reduce average abandonment rates, and increase customer satisfaction. This will, in turn, help the call center reps improvise their services, serve the customers better in future calls, and deliver an enhanced patient experience.
Staffing & Training:
Recruiting and retaining talent is one of the biggest challenges in the Pharmaceutical industry. An increase in employee turnout and reduced turnover is a significant concern. As technology and life sciences advance, there is an increased focus on professionals with the expertise to deliver tech-enabled solutions. But, in such a competitive landscape, it is daunting for Pharma companies to undertake the entire human resource functions internally. So, how does outsourcing staffing and training benefit them?
Outsourcing your HR processes to an expert who regularly collaborates with various industry leaders can make this task much easier, as they can access a large pool of talent from different sectors. By outsourcing, you get quality hiring of talented agents locally who are specialized in the field. You can also achieve significant cost savings as the overall expenses of initial recruitment processes, such as hiring, training, onboarding, etc., are much less, and the employee retention rates are also high due to an optimized and efficient recruitment process. This offers great flexibility and scalability in staffing solutions based on the changing needs of the Pharmaceutical company.
For most industries, the methods of communication have changed, and Pharma is no different. It has now expanded beyond phone calls and emails to include chatbots, video tutorials, social media, texting, and more. The focus is now gradually moving from physical to virtual interactions aided by the technologies that enable the integration of customer interactions across multiple channels. Omnichannel customer experience in Pharma is a unique approach to reaching and engaging customers across touchpoints delivering a complete digital experience.
This approach can also benefit Healthcare Professionals (HCPs) who increasingly expect more personalized content and curated experiences. However, the challenge with having so many communication platforms is that the call centers must invest in expensive technology like hardware, software tools, and training to use each platform effectively. Besides, providing customer service through omni channels also makes tracking customer experience difficult, as many customers often switch between channels during their interaction.
With the help of outsourcing pharmaceutical customer support, they can easily manage all communication platforms using one central location. With this, it will be easier for the Pharma companies to improve the performance of all communication channels and accordingly work on their customer service strategy to provide quick and high-quality performance.
Use of Artificial Intelligence (AI):
While Artificial Intelligence is still a relatively new concept in the Pharma call center industry, it can be highly beneficial when used through non-voice communication methods like chatbots on websites or apps. It can also be helpful to automate and improve different functions within a call center, such as natural language processing, sentiment analysis, predictive analysis, and so on.
Nevertheless, implementing advanced technologies like AI and implementing them correctly to improve efficiency, quality, and productivity is a taxing task to be performed in-house. Hence, outsourcing these functions is a better solution as they have the expertise to use AI as a communication bridge to deliver effective outcomes and increase customer satisfaction.
Handling Large Call Volumes:
Pharma companies face the challenge of handling large call volumes from their customers, who may have pressing questions or concerns about their products or services. Large call volumes can lead to problems such as long wait times, frustrated customers, lost sales opportunities, overwhelmed in-house teams, reduced productivity and quality, increased turnover, and more investment in infrastructure, technology, and HR functions.
can offer several benefits, such as access to qualified and experienced agents, bandwidth and scalability to handle fluctuations in call volume, reduced costs, time, and risks associated with hiring, training, and managing the call center staff, and more focus on the core business functions.
The Future Of Pharma Call Center Outsourcing
The pharmaceutical industry faces changing needs and challenges, such as increasing competition, regulatory compliance, customer expectations, and innovation. To meet these needs and challenges, outsourcing pharma call center solutions are becoming more important and valuable. These solutions can help pharmaceutical companies provide accurate information about their products and services, offer ongoing customer support throughout their journey, and improve customer service quality and satisfaction. These benefits can enhance the reputation, loyalty, and profitability of pharmaceutical companies and their customers.