New England BioLabs has been ranked at the top of life science companies for its Customer Experience. How they do that? And how they think about elements of the customer journey as contributing to that experience?
In this episode, I interviewed Andy Bertera, Executive Director of Marketing at New England BioLabs about many of the touch points in the NEB customer journey. Andy is always very generous in sharing NEB best practices. I’ll highlight a few of them here, but for the full story, you should listen to the whole podcast.
How to Create a Competitive Advantage
With respect to the buyer’s journey, NEB views it as a long process, but not necessarily a linear one. They aren’t trying to sell you something at every interaction, but rather to help scientists with their research and be ready to take the order when the time is right. (Quotes from Andy).
The sum total of those touchpoints, the total journey, the total experience really can be a source of competitive advantage if you use every one of them as an opportunity for the customer to actually both experience a good quality interaction, but also learn more about you.
NEB has long been known for its catalog, a resource for scientists as much as a buying guide, as far back as when I was an undergraduate. It truly was content marketing before that phrase existed. But even as everyone still wants the print catalog, NEB experiments with new ways of delivering information and tools digitally.
It’s important to be willing to experiment and fail. That’s how scientists get the the right answer. It’s also how marketers get to the best results. Keep in mind that our customers’ expectations are driven by all of their buying experiences, not just with the ones they have with your competitors in the life sciences. They are being trained by Google, Amazon, and others about what to expect in terms of meeting their needs.
One area that has benefited from experimentation is NEBtv. It was inspired, to a degree, by cooking shows.
You know how addictive watching somebody follow a recipe actually is. And a lot of these programs bring a little bit of humor to that, so what we’re originally thinking is how do we actually communicate scientific concepts that very much are in some regards following a recipe? So the idea we came up with is, “Let’s convert those cooking shows into more of a scientific show.”
The intent, as always, was to be helpful, but the concept of a “tv show” adds to the customer experience and helps NEB communicate their brand, who they are in a way that’s more human than what you can do in a catalog or on the website.
NEB TV gave us a vehicle to have individuals actually speak and you can see them, you can listen to them, and realizing it’s real people, it’s people who, to come back to the word you used before, who are genuine, enjoy science and can actually communicate it in a way that people hopefully find engaging and enjoyable.
Bridging B2C Marketing and B2B Buying
One of the challenges facing many life science marketers is that, although we are often marketing to end users in a sort of B2C context, purchases are typically a B2B transaction. That makes it difficult to know in detail as much as you’d like about who is actually using your product, how often and for what.
The NEB Freezer Program gets around that by allowing individual users to log in (at the freezer) to purchase a restriction enzyme. Billing still happens in a B2B context, but NEB is able to gain information that allows them to serve individual customers better.
But the real value that we have is now this gives us information about the end user. Whereas before I might have only known that this university or that purchasing agent there is purchasing this products at whatever frequency, now I know that, Dr. Smith, every Tuesday, let’s say goes to a freezer and picks up product X.
Over time, I can then actually start to build up a picture of this fictitious Dr. Smith to find out what other products they buy from the freezer over time, what technical support calls they might be asking us, what movement or attraction on our website they might be having, and as we build up this picture and I should say always comes back into our CRM. We can then not only support them better, but hopefully market to them better and make sure that the messages we sell them are tailored towards the type of products they’re using.
Passion in Science Awards
Completing the cycle of customer experience, NEB developed a program to celebrate their 40th anniversary. But rather than spotlight themselves, they decided to shine the light on scientists. The Passion in Science Awards recognize unique contributions to causes NEB cares about in 4 different categories:
- Environmental Stewardship
- Humanitarian Duty
- Inspiration in Science
- Arts and Creativity
This creates a measure of customer delight at the end of the journey while creating awareness for new customers at the beginning of their own journey with NEB. But more importantly, they have ignited a community that has spawned new collaborations.
Making your customers feel like part of a special community may be the most effective form of loyalty program you can have. There is a powerful emotional pull when you become a member of a community that cares about the things you care about.
What was most fascinating is how they built relationships with each other. I remember very well within the first day of having these 16 people together, there were four or five collaborations that already spun up. And these were individuals that had never met each other before. Some of them were research based, some were actually focused around teaching third parties, and they were very different.
On the art section, we had one individual who was using rap to teach her students about PCR at that time, we had another one who was creating 3-dimensional modules of viruses to help visually impaired students have a greater understanding of what a virus might actually look like. So really diverse subjects and how these came together. It was a very humbling, to be honest with you, experience to see these wonderful individuals and what they were doing outside of their…related to but slightly outside of their core scientific disciplines.
As we get started making 2017 the best year yet, what did you learn here that you can adapt to your life science marketing program?