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Customer Centric Medical Affairs Planning

Medical Affairs has many customers to serve, including KOLs, community HCPs, payers, patient groups, and internal customers. Customer-centricity begins with knowing your customer. If you were to walk through your office and ask each member of your medical affairs team who the top KOLs are, would they know? In order to be truly customer-centric, you must start by organizing all work around your customers.

It is important to clarify which customer groups you are going to focus on. Once you have a specific customer group, spend some time working through the following steps to create a customer-centric plan.

Step 1: Who are your customers?

Start by clarifying which customers you want to organize around. This is a matter of prioritization, as you do not have enough resources to fully organize around every customer. Let’s say you choose to focus on your top Key Opinion Leaders (KOL). Everyone involved in the customer experience should know the KOLs by name. Currently, your Medical Directors and Medical Science Liaisons (MSL) may know who your top KOLs are. But what about finance? How about operations? Both departments have functions whose decisions, processes, and staff impact those KOLs. If you come across them or join a Zoom meeting with them, would everyone be able to tell you who the top KOLs are by name? Would all members of the team have aligned goals toward their engagement?

Step 2: What do KOLs want?

Medical Affairs organizations that announce customer-centric planning often bring teams together to align tactics to specific KOLs. Those who do this good start with the KOL, not with the tactics they’re trying to execute. Teams spend hours and days talking about everything from publication strategies to company picnics. However, those who are truly customer-centric spend just as much time talking about their most important customers. How many hours do you spend talking about each individual KOL? How often do you bring teams together to discuss the specific KOL’s engagement preferences, scientific mindset, career and scientific goals, and relationship with the company? Those who are truly customer-centric spend significant time talking about the customers to ensure a full understanding of how they interact with the company.

Step 3: What is your customers’ experience (or journey)?

We’ve all heard the expression, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” Well, that doesn’t apply to customer-centricity. Now is the time to sweat the small stuff. As a leader, when was the last time you went through all the steps required to apply for an ISS? How difficult was it, and how long did it take to get through contracting? How many different people does your top customer need to talk with to get what they need from the relationship? It’s critical to get into the details and ensure that every touchpoint offers ease and value for the KOL. Put yourself into your customer’s shoes and understand their experience engaging with you.

Step 4: What does coordinated planning look like?

Customer-centric planning requires everyone involved in customer engagement to work together to prioritize and coordinate. Set clear objectives about the value your customers desire. This is different from what you want the customer to do. Some examples of a KOL’s objectives may be to be part of the latest science in the indication, to speak with a global congress, to educate community HCPs, or to grow their social influence. Objectives should be what the customer values and written from the perspective of the customer. After you have objectives, plan ways to deliver that value by utilizing resources from various medical teams. 


Creating a customer-centric plan step by step allows you to integrate KOLs in a more powerful way. By focusing on them and reviewing the information regularly, everyone on the team understands what you’re doing and who you’re doing it for. These plans should be written somewhere everyone can access them, should be reported on monthly, and be updated quarterly for the most accurate insight.

And if you want help with Medical Affairs strategic planning, please contact Acceleration Point today.

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