Precisely defining a superior customer experience will probably require some market research, and the answer will differ across
customer types and service offerings. We can be pretty sure, however, it will center around value, price, meeting deadlines,
communication, and technical expertise. Once these have been defined, successful companies will develop metrics to measure
them and to manage those metrics.
The key to answering the second question is the ability to break down the functional silos that have characterized drug development.
The different functional areas have traditionally "thrown the project over the wall" to the next sequential step in the development
process, such as when the process chemists ship the API to the toxicologists for preclinical testing or to the formulators
for drug-product development. An ISP focused on the customer experience will ensure that the different functional areas work
closely together from the start in both technical matters and project management and scheduling. For instance, the ISP will
have its medicinal chemists and formulators work together early in the process to identify and resolve potential solubility
Further, the ISP will use its cumulative experience to anticipate and plan for problems the minute a new project comes in
the door, or, even better, during the request-for-proposal (RFP) process. While every project and compound is undoubtedly
different, the breadth and depth of experience that most CROs and CMOs claim to have should enable them to know where to expect
problems and how to account for them in the project schedule and commitment of resources, and to prepare the customer's expectations
No doubt the key to achieving these objectives is for ISPs to establish multi-discipline project teams to evaluate and manage
projects as they come through the door. The multidiscipline approach truly leverages the advantages of having all elements
of the projects in the hands of a single provider. ISPs that do not use multidisciplinary teams are little more than loose
confederations of independent service providers.
If questions one and two are answered successfully, dealing with question three should be much easier. If the ISP delivers
on its promise, it will have no problem getting repeat customers, and its reputation should spread around the industry. A
positive scorecard of customer experience metrics should help convince new clients that they are choosing the right service
provider for their projects.
CMO and CRO executives who have not yet read the Jobs biography will be well-advised to do so. While you may not want to mimic
his management style, understanding his focus on the customer experience and how to achieve it will serve you and your company
Jim Miller is president of PharmSource Information Services, Inc., and publisher of Bio/Pharmaceutical Outsourcing Report, tel. 703.383.4903, Twitter@JimPharmSource, firstname.lastname@example.org