It has been an incredibly challenging year for the healthcare industry, thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Healthcare workers, hospitals and critical care have come under increased strain as the novel Coronavirus swept through nations. However, whilst it is easy to think of healthcare as one homogenous group, it's important to recognise that there are a wide variety of companies and organisations playing their part.
At this week's DreamTX event (Salesforce's virtual answer to Dreamforce 2020), we heard from two medtech companies which had to quickly adapt this year from siloed operations to an integrated 360 view of the customer, in order to deal with a huge rise in demand for their products. Both Aurelia Gloves Canada, which specialises in glove and mask PPE, and IDEXX, which provides healthcare services for pets, livestock and people, described how the global pandemic has brought digital into focus for their respective organisations - out of necessity.
Gabriel Coulet, Innovation & Marketing Director at Aurelia Gloves Canada, described how despite being Canada's second largest medical and surgical glove manufacturer, the PPE industry hasn't kept pace with some of the digital trends seen in industries elsewhere. The company is rolling out Salesforce to unify its marketing, sales and service functions. He said:
Due to the COVID crisis we've recently seen a massive increase in daily operations, as we make gloves and face masks. So it was quite interesting to implement Salesforce at the same time, earlier this year. There are many challenges that we went through as a business that Salesforce has helped us with, such as the basic fact that the PPE industry is very traditional - so even having a CRM is not something that's very common.
It allowed us to overcome some of the basic issues, such as communications between marketing, sales and service, or just the ability to trace and track all the touchpoints with customers and improve their experience.
IDEXX, which pivoted to provide COVID testing solutions in order to support the COVID-19 response efforts, was in a similar situation. It found that when demand for its services and products grew exponentially overnight, it wasn't able to provide the level of care and service it needed to. As such, it is expanding its Salesforce use to unify the experience internally and for customers. Ken Grady, Corporate Vice President & CIO, IDEXX, explained:
A lot of our sales practices have been fairly traditional, relationship based, calling on customers in person. We've had to shift that and we've had to leverage digital more than ever before. We've been on Salesforce for several years now - we started with Sales Cloud, we implemented Marketing Cloud, and now Service Cloud, plus Heroku and a lot of different components. For us, a lot of it is thinking about how all that works together.
We really want our field teams, whether it is field service, field support, field sales, to know where to go, who to see and what to say to help support our customers to really understand them. And now the ‘where to go' piece is a little bit more restricted, so we're pivoting that into more digital connections, virtual summits, virtual meetings, etc. So it's changed the format of the meetings, but the challenge in the connection to our customer remains the same.
Real-time care and understanding
Grady said that connecting all these different elements of the Salesforce cloud has meant servicing customers in a way that is meaningful, which is especially important when you consider the nature of the work and the current health crisis. But also it has boosted IDEXX's operational resilience. He said:
We implemented all these pieces to really understand that 360 view of our customer. We have 10s of 1000s of diagnostic devices, medical devices, in the field at our customer clinics, which are points of care. We can see the utilisation through a real time connection through cloud, understanding their clinical utilisation and be there with our customers to help them. Whether it's proactive maintenance that we're doing on the device, or it's getting an education of a new vector borne disease, to the customer at the right time - it really takes that personal relationship that I mentioned, understanding how they're using our products, to provide the best clinical outcome.
And to do that, you need all of those pieces. You need to know the day to day use, you need to know where they are on their clinical beliefs journey with their patients or with their pet owners. And you need to do the inventory management, the basics, of making sure they don't run out of product - especially at times like this when supply chains were in the past few months very unpredictable.
So it was really for us, combining all of those aspects of the customer relationship with IDEX, that allows us to help our customers kind of recover and grow together. Even before COVID certainly, but definitely now. It takes every point of that customer experience to pull it all together, to understand and support. That's the operational excellence pieces, it's the one plus one equals three.
Coulet said that Aurelia Gloves Canada saw its daily operations multiplied by a factor of over 25 and that the exploding demand accelerated the company's digital transformation, but also product innovation. He said:
The hardest challenge for us is to just manage supply chain and allocate products across customers. And all of a sudden we really need to have increased communication between marketing, but especially between sales, customer service operations - and how do we keep customers happy? How do we keep supplies coming? How do we allocate those products? And so just by the fact that this crisis hit us, it's been mandatory for us to totally update our IT systems just to be able to operate normally.
In addition, Aurelia has been working to not only maintain the status quo, but also introduce innovative new PPE products to the market. This has been enabled by the fact that all eyes are all of a sudden on the use of PPE and there is a market opportunity to deliver something new, whilst there is increased demand. Coulet explained:
The other big phenomenon we've seen on the market is that most technology leaders have turned to PPE to try to see how we can make it better. And so over the past six months we've launched a Canadian based manufacturing facility to mitigate dependencies on overseas imports. We've started developing a custom fitted 3D printed face mask that is reusable over 100 times for healthcare professionals, so that we stop using disposable single use ones. All of this technology and all these leaders were available to us to just create groundbreaking innovation.
And so on top of the operations that were scaling up tremendously, many, many different projects were opening as well and so communications between operations, marketing, innovation, sales, customer service, has never been as important as it is right now. We noticed key limitations to how we were operating before, simply due to the fact that sales teams were allocating stock to customers, while operations were not aware of it. Or if we got complaints from customers while sales wasn't really aware of it, so account managers weren't really up to date with what's going on. Implementing Salesforce was a way for us to break the silos into one single solution that would centralise every single customer touch point that we have.