A service business exists solely for the purpose to help solve a problem for a customer. This service can be to repair a car, fix plumbing, or invest savings. In the biotechnology and pharmaceutical world, service companies offer an array of solutions from library screening, in vitro and in vivo studies (CRO, CRS), contract manufacturing (CDMO) or even clinical trial management (CTM). Regardless of the industry (but especially in biotech) quality customer service can boiled down to three terms:

  1. Communication
  2. Availability
  3. Action
Man in hood using pipette

Before a Project Comes to the Lab

Typically, the first interaction with a service provider is with the account manager who listens to the needs of the customer, guides the customer though an array of potential solutions and ultimately helps to establish a relationship with the client.

While this is an extremely simplified writeup of the sales process, there is groundwork that is being built. First, the account manager must never over sell or over promise what the solution their company can deliver is, this is the result of quality communication.

  • Example: Your company can only scan 1,000 tumor slides a week. Do not say you may be able to do 1,500.
  • Instead, be honest and transparent, “At this time 1,500 tumor slides per week is above our capacity but we are confident in the quality of our imaging.”

Second, the account manager must always be available to help the client along in their purchasing decision.

  • Example: The client wants to setup a 15-minute meeting review a statement of work.
  • Always take the time to answer their questions. What seems simple to you, may be a foreign concept to a potential client.

Thirdly, the account manager must take action to get the client what is needed in a timely manner, to help them make the decision best for their company.

  • Example: The potential client needs a Statement Of Work (SOW) with a quote by the end of the week to share with his or her management team.
  • Be sure to get the SOW back, on time and well put together. If what the client is asking for is unrealistic, be completely transparent that you need more time.

Consider a time when an account manager failed to communicate, be available, or act while you were still in your purchasing decision phase. Did you choose to move forward with them? Likely not.

After the Project Comes to the Lab

Assuming the account manager (along with the scientific leads), won new business – is it now time to relax? No, it is time to return to the key elements, only this time more parties need to be involved.

Now that a project has entered the lab the client is eager to receive their data which can determine things such as if they should continue to invest in their lead compound, if their drug of interest has crossed the blood brain barrier, if their compounds are increasing immune infiltration and many other possibilities. These results have a huge impact on the strategic and financial outlook of the companies you provide services for.

As the service provider, the company has a duty to execute on the agreement and go above and beyond in the delivery of that service. Below are a few examples of quality service in the biotech space.

  1. Communication
    1. The client should never have to question the status of their project. Whether the project be a complex cell culture taking weeks to form culture or a simple histological stain, the client needs to be informed every step of the process. Over communicating is always a safe assumption to make.
  2. Availability
    1. If the client wants to meet to discuss preliminary results, then everyone involved on the project should be present for such a conversation. It is important that the client knows that their project is important to you. Be open to chat and discuss the client’s workflow with all the appropriate parties, this is essential to building trust and providing a quality service.
  3. Action
    1. Science is hard and sometimes projects will fail or results will be unexpected. As the service provider you must act and inform the client in a timely and objective manner of any issues. Acting and allowing the client to know of issues is the single most important aspect of providing a quality service.

It is important to note that the responsibility for this work falls on all parties involved on the provider side, especially the account manager. Communication needs to be flowing from the scientists executing the project, to the study directors and project managers, to the account manager. While consistent and direct communication will likely come from the scientific team and project manager, it is just as important for the account manager to be actively following up with the client to be a problem solver in any capacity.

At Visikol, we are always striving to provide a quality service to our clients. We understand the goals of our clients and seek to be extensions of their labs. If you are ever interested in learning more about our service management and our execution of projects, do not hesitate to reach out!

2022-10-06T14:02:50-05:00

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