Like most retail settings, your pharmacy is a revenue-generating business whose sales are dependent upon your customer’s decision to purchase. The customer experience can sway the decision your patients make when determining where to purchase their medications and pharmacy services. Community pharmacies may not be able to compete with big box chains in the dollar spend on television advertising, but they can compete, and win, when comparing the customer experience. Community pharmacists should make an extra effort to give their patients an exceptional and consistent customer service.
Simply said, customer service makes a difference. Poor customer service can negatively impact your sales and reputation. Just one negative incident could lead to a loss of that customer. Each year, an estimated $41 billion is lost due to poor customer service. Excellent customer service will positively impact your sales, reputation, and brand loyalty. According to a 2015 Aspect Customer Experience survey, 76% of shoppers view customer service as a guideline for how much or how little a company values them. Do you consistently show your patients how much you value them? How so?
Not long ago, I got a call from a 3-store pharmacy owner asking me to help him with his approach to marketing and advertising. They had one location that was doing great and two other two locations that were struggling — both in terms of revenue and retaining patients. I visited all three locations and found that marketing had nothing to do with the problems they were experiencing, but rather customer service.
Upon visiting their best location, I was two steps inside the door when someone greeted me, “Welcome to the pharmacy. How may I assist you today?” I spent time browsing the aisles and had two other employees ask me if I needed any assistance. At the pharmacy counter, the pharmacist and technician both greeted me and cheerfully offered to answer any questions I might have. This store understood the power of customer service! Conversely, the other two locations did not offer the same experience. I was not greeted at the door, nor was I offered help when shopping. In fact, I “shopped” or actually just walked the aisles for 30 minutes without a single employee noticing that I was there. I left without a saying anything to anyone.
After visiting these pharmacies, I offered the owner my tips for improving his customer experience. He was already demonstrating some of my tips at his first location, they just needed to be consistent throughout his stores.
So, what are the steps you can take to make a difference in your customer’s experience?
- Create an employee handbook. This should be a guideline for your employees to follow. Include instructions for delivering excellent customer service and set clear expectations for your employees. Here’s how we welcome patients into the store. Here’s how we answer the phone. Here’s how we transfer calls. Here’s how we put patients on hold. These are all items that should be addressed in an employee handbook. Hold you employees responsible for adhering to it.
- Be consistent. Customers return to your pharmacy because they enjoyed their previous experience. Build on positive experiences. Have you ever noticed that Chick-Fil-A employees always say, “My pleasure” when you say, “Thank you?” Always. I enjoy it when I walk into Firehouse Subs and the whole crew always yells, “Welcome to Firehouse”. Always. Your staff can do it, too.
- Exceed expectations. Or, as I like to say, create raving fans. Don’t just serve your customers. Exceed their expectations and turn them into fans. Exceed their expectations over and over again and then they tell others about you and become raving fans. Raving fans tell others about their experience and become advocates for your brand.
Make these simple changes with your pharmacy staff and, I promise, you will see a difference!