Klick Health

Interactive chat – is Pharma ready yet?

Senior Director, Social Media

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The folks at BoldChat have compiled a second version of their popular white paper titled Live Chat Performance Benchmarks: A Statistical Analysis. Since they are a software as a service (SaaS) provider they are able to mine millions of chats across many clients, anonymized of course, and find benchmarks.

Normally I would be pretty skeptical of white papers from a SaaS vendor, will they really report on all data? or will they cherry-pick to make the data say what they want? Reading the methodology in the white paper I do have to give them credit, they are on their game and the level of disclosure in this section does give me a comfort level with their data. So, what does this data say to us?

Top-Line Results

So, the initial data tells us that human interaction while on a website can have a significant, positive impact on visitor behavior. Most pharma websites have a number of key transactions on them such as doctor finders, decision tools, diaries, discussion guides, etc. If there was a way to improve the number of visitors acting on those key transactions it might be worth some investment.

Not surprisingly, those who request the chat convert somewhat more than reactive chatters. However, the difference isn’t as much as might be expected. The chat tools that are available allow customer service reps (CSRs) to view users’ progress through the site so they typically offer chat only when a visitor meets certain criteria (time on site, number of pages, specific trigger pages, etc.).

The fact that CSRs are only offering chat to engaged users could explain why the difference isn’t greater and this speaks to implementing a well-designed chat program that allows the CSRs to interrupt the visitor on the site.

But Can Pharma Satisfy?

The question about whether pharma companies can satisfy their visitors’ expectations is vexing. The regulations make promotional speech very difficult — but not impossible. The AstraZeneca Click to Chat example shows that restrictive scripts can be a problem for open discussion with visitors. In theory the restrictions through chat should be no more restrictive than the telephone call centers so there may be “wiggle room” to actually provide value to site visitors when they need it.

The satisfaction numbers for most chats are pretty good:

If the user dumps the conversation immediately that is an indication they will not be satisfied (it’s unlikely it was anything the CSR did) but as the duration increases so does the satisfaction, even up past the three minute mark.

The question remains, can Pharma CSRs provide value inside of regulated speech? Can they point visitors to the most valuable parts of the website and improve uptake on the KPIs? Can they get close to the 7.5x conversions that other, less regulated, industries are seeing?

What About Unbranded?

Above we are assuming that the click to chat will be on a branded drug website. This is the most obvious place to try online chat as visitors may have specific questions related to the product. However, unbranded sites could use professionals to either suggest parts of the site to visit or links to 3rd party resources.

Also, some associations allow for peer to peer chats, such as this schedule from CaringVoices. However, associations are allowed to say nearly anything and are not responsible for the content that 3rd parties say on their sites, so this option is difficult at best.

AstraZeneca has also tried running a TweetChat, around the hashtag #rxsave. Hats off to AZ, they really have tried different direct communications methods. Millennium has to be the leader with the number of different channels though as they are present on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Google+ (full disclosure: Millennium is a client of Klick Health).

So, unbranded may provide some loosening of the restrictions. What is your opinion about this? We want to know…

More About the Author

Brad Einarsen

Brad is Klick's Senior Director leading the social practice. His group ensures that clients get the best bang for their buck on the social platforms.

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