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Aligning the business with customer intelligence


Regulatory concerns and risk aversion had kept a major global pharmaceutical producer from engaging with customers online. Working with top executives, we created a Digital Center of Excellence to provide guidance, training and coordination that would build an “engagement muscle” for the company.




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An East Coast drug manufacturer had avoided engaging with customers in online channels for years. Concerns about lawsuits, consumer misunderstandings, and regulatory violations held them back until they began to saw their competitors making the leap into the murky waters of customer engagement.

My team and I were hired to work with corporate executives and their existing consultants to create an engagement capability. Our recommendation: a Digital Center of Excellence (COE).


We started with an audit of leaders from Corporate Communications, IT, Legal, Regulatory, and individual brand managers for key product lines. The resulting benchmark provided us with a better understanding of which projects were in flight, how confident various departments felt about engagement, and the expectations key players had around benefits and opportunities. We also examined how cross-functional teams had fared in the past.

My team also did a deep dive around the competitive set to assess where the company fell amongst competitors. From this data, we created a scorecard for both parent companies and “child” brands — enabling us to identify opportunities for significant competitive advantage.


Our first step was to help align the organization around the benefits of customer intel, engagement and connection through online efforts. This included more efficient models for customer care, issues identification and handling.

Next, we created a set of recommendatios around how patient experience could provide insights that would drive a more effective marketing spend for the individual brands. This allowed brand owners to go to market faster with products they knew would be a hit – and shared by patients online.

From an organizational design perspective, the company fulfilled our recommendation to create a social leadership council, who would drive the need and desire to help the organization become more engaged. A second team focused on governance, policies, and best practices made enterprise-wide decisions about how to engage and where.


From our work, the company now had a framework for identifying opportunities to enable them to increase brand love and advocacy. These included leveraging the loyalty of managed communities, which would improve long-term revenue lift; improving service efficiencies of customer care, which would reduce expenses in the short and medium terms; and managing risk and innovation efforts through customer intel, which would reduce expenses over a longer term.

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