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No Longer The Lone Voice – The Importance Of Voice-Of-The-Customer Research In Healthcare


Market research within pharmaceutical and medical device markets has traditionally been largely product and brand led. While understanding  the value your particular bundle of product features and brand associations represents relative to your competitors’ remains critical, there is increasingly less daylight between competitor offerings on this basis alone. The basis by which competitor offers are benchmarked needs to broaden and whole-of-company perceptions can assist.


And this is why we have added Voice-Of-The-Customer research to our portfolio of research approaches. By placing the broader needs and wants of your customers at the heart of your business, you can create a proposition that relies less on specific R&D innovation and new product launches and more on creating a more holistic value proposition that encompasses your customers’ entire relationship with the organisation.  In a way, building this cushion of positive relationships with organisations at an enterprise level can act to buffer the chop and change of tactical or NPD activity. As we have found in recent projects we have undertaken, forging this broader and deeper relationship with your customers can help drive patronage of your brand, even when it is not perceived as the best offer on a technical basis.

This all sounds well and good, but it isn’t easy to do. In building a customer-centric model for your business, many factors must be measured and benchmarked across the breadth of the business, including perceptions of the brand, the organisation, the personnel, your communications, your services and support, and their relative ‘power’ in driving engagement with your business carefully calculated. 

Even selection of the key engagement metric must not be taken lightly.  It needs to represent a metric that is meaningful and can be used day-to-day in your business to track how your efforts on several fronts are ‘moving the dial’ of customer love for your organisation.  This could be customer propensity to recommend you, their overall satisfaction with you, their overall satisfaction with a specific element of your business, their feelings towards you, or a mixture of  them.

A further element to consider is, just who you are benchmarking yourself against – while it is tempting to benchmark your offer versus the total market place, with the total sample proportioned out by customers of each company, this can lead to a fragmented view, where differences between the companies are hidden by low bases.  While this approach may work in some markets, in many, the skill of picking your biggest competitor organisation can have a big impact on the actionability of the results you obtain.

Knowledge of the specific therapeutic areas you are operating in also plays a role, particularly when your customers are specialist doctors.  Their engagement with your offering may be dependent on how they feel about your class of products and therapeutic approach as a whole – with some markets on an ‘innovation-grabbing’ spree and others in a ‘steady as she goes’ or even cynical mindset – this will need to be taken into account when looking at the results.  Really you are looking at how you stack up in your specific marketplace and this may mean that a good engagement metric isn’t necessarily a good score.

In this age of greater transparency and accountability, organisations providing products and services are being scrutinised and judged more harshly and broadly than ever before.  Do you measure up?

Call ACA Research Healthcare Division for more information on how we can help you more clearly understand the voice of your customer. I’m sure there’s a song in there somewhere…



Topics: Healthcare Research