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AI Solutions that Keep Life Sciences Customer Support Costs Down

There is a need for improved customer and patient experience like no other, as the healthcare industry surges in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. As hold times maintain record highs, patients are turning to the internet for answers and support during this time of isolation at an unprecedented rate. But, how do you provide a patient experience that is more satisfying and good for business?


It seems the consumer base has flocked to online experiences as this recent report indicates, and customer support requests are experiencing a spike in customer contacts with significantly higher request volume than pre-pandemic. Data has indicated that other digital platforms such as social media have hit the highest level of concurrent usage, while video chat has skyrocketed in the absence of being able to visit face-to-face. As we examine the data that shows us we won’t be turning away from online and digital communication anytime soon, how do we solve the equation of the volume of support requests with the number of agents available to answer calls or address a complaint without an incredibly long hold time?

With digital 'lines' growing, companies are turning to solutions that put the consumer in the driver's seat, and are enabling self-service tools that take the pressure off of the customer service representative. Life science companies are hoping to empower the user with self-service tools, FAQs, and other solutions to reduce hold times and improve the patient experience.

Self-service tools and strategy 

We are seeing an influx in customer queries from every industry which has led to an overwhelming amount of requests, increased hold times, and often a negative customer experience. However, the issue may be rooted in the efficiency of your customer support team, which may be spread thin, lack of self-service tools, which can help your team to cover more ground and streamline your operations, and a gap in the knowledge and information that is essential to self service resolution. Below we will detail self-service tools and strategies that incorporate the use of automation, AI, knowledge management, and human centricity that will help you deliver excellent customer service and patient experience.

Virtual Assistant

Patients and consumers are seeking information 24/7x365, so offer them a personalized virtual assistant that can meet their needs, improve customer support, and reduce hold times. The Alphanumeric Virtual Assistant implements artificial intelligence to drive transactions to a self-service model, streamline operations, standardize repetitive requests, and free-up agents’ time. The Alphanumeric Virtual Assistant answers thousands of questions and is 86% accurate, beating the 68% industry average. We have successfully implemented the Alphanumeric Virtual Assistant on over 20 US websites, read about the results here.

Omnichannel Strategy

One of the most important aspects to consider is the experience you provide your patients, HCPs, and employees, and the solution behind that experience. One of the challenges the pandemic has brought about is an influx of volume coming in on channels like phone, social, and chat. Life sciences companies have been forced to reimagine their patient experience to balance these channel volumes that have become the new normal. This is forcing the pharmaceutical industry to digitally transform and innovate the way it delivers its patient experience to be smarter and more efficient. Our clients are looking to automate answers to high volume requests with finite answers like questions about coupons, financial assistance, and physicians ordering samples. This frees up agents and HCPs to focus on the requests that are less repetitive and require more individualized attention.

To help other life sciences companies going through this, we’ve developed the Alphanumeric Omni Channel Framework. With this framework, you can begin to map your patient (and HCP) journey, craft a plan to personalize and automate content, measure and analyze your data, create and educate your patient experience team, and provide 24/7 support. Digitally transforming your life sciences organization to incorporate intelligent automation, AI, and self-service to address what your patients and customers need should be a high priority.

Modernized contact center platform

Don’t let outdated systems stand in the way of excellent customer service and being one of the most successful life sciences companies. Alphanumeric partnered with a global life sciences company to modernize their systems providing an automated customer and employee experience. In turn, they connected with more customers, improved patient and healthcare provider satisfaction, increased call volume, and secured more revenue. You can read more about the success and results they saw by incorporating automation and streamlining their data, here.

AI-ready knowledge management

One of the keys to a self-service model that is accurate and compliant is rooted in an AI-ready knowledge management strategy. AI-ready knowledge management is necessary for your intelligent digital solutions to work. It starts with understanding which knowledge is meant for internal audiences like HCPs and which knowledge is meant for external audiences, like patients. Making a clear and compliant distinction here is key to ensuring that medical information is kept separate from any knowledge that would be used for commercial purposes. Once you can make that distinction, you can bring all disparate sources of knowledge into one system. Often the external can be housed in a CRM like SalesForce and internal in a medical information system like Veeva Vault. How you organize the knowledge should be structured in a way that’s optimized for a bot to use it. Finally, you need to constantly shape new knowledge for any requests that were not able to be resolved by the bot. All of this will help you locate accurate information faster and improve accuracy as your HCPs, agents, and chatbots continue to use it.

Human-centered service

Ultimately, you want to be able to handle the influx of volume, and automation is going to help. But how do you employ automation that makes patients feel taken care of? Here’s how…

stay focused on a solution that is human-centric and automated. Consider what tasks are repeatable that you can solve with automation. Freeing up your agents time allows them to focus on higher value initiatives and spend more time with patients that require help to resolve more complex requests. Analyzing your interactions data will be core to helping you stay human-centered in two major ways. First, what channels are your patients using most? Make sure you understand this, so you can meet them there, effectively. Secondly, what does your customer base require from a language perspective? Make sure that you have the linguistic capabilities both in your human resources and in the natural language processing (NLP) of your AI solution. Finally, and maybe most important, you need to meet your patients with empathy for what they are going through. Every interaction should be guided with this in mind. Though our data reports we live the majority of our lives digitally, we still crave human interaction at our core.

Patient experience matters

We are living in a new normal of healthcare consumerism, where data is heavily consumed on digital channels, and customer service requests, though high, are likely to stay this way for some time. Working towards providing a seamless patient experience includes accurately addressing patient needs, which improves patient outcomes, which builds long-term equity, and improves brand loyalty. If you can figure out how to deliver a frictionless patient experience, you can transform not only patient outcomes, but you can also transform your business. 

I’m sure you get the picture by now that self-service via AI is one of the best solutions to improve patient experience, and help you keep up with the digital tsunami that has been brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. At Alphanumeric, we’ve figured out that the magic happens when you can blend innovation and human-centeredness. We’ve spent more than a decade figuring out how to turn that approach into a science. Our global CSAT hovers around 97%. We’ve taken the largest pharmaceutical company in the world and transformed one of their contact centers in just a quarter! We’d love the opportunity to learn more about where you are in your patient experience and figure out if we could help you achieve the results you desire.

If this is a conversation you’d like to get started on today, reach out here, and we’ll get something on the books.

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