I read an article recently about a coffee shop in Vancouver B.C. that is turning a Faraday Cage into a café. For those of you who might not be familiar, a Faraday Cage is basically an enclosure made out of a material that blocks electric fields (like wireless signals). This means that you check your cell phones, laptops, and tablets at the door and instead get back to good old basic human interaction. This café isn’t the first to attempt to create an environment where people come before text messages, emails and checking in on social media sites. A Brazilian bar launched a cell phone free environment by using special glasses with a cutout on the bottom that means your glass won’t stand upright unless you put your smart phone underneath it. I’ve even been to social gatherings where everyone puts their cell phone in the middle of the table and the first one to touch their phone picks up the tab.
But let’s face it. This isn’t the norm. We live in a world of instant gratification, where information and endless options for communication and sharing are constantly at our fingertips. I know that this is old news to you. And as much as the quality of interaction in your pharmacy is one of the biggest influencers of overall customer satisfaction, we can’t block out the modern world and still run a successful pharmacy.
I often tout the benefits of technology for independent pharmacies, but there’s a flip side to living in a society where a majority of people carry internet access around in pockets and purses. While It means that a potential customer can access information about your store on the fly as long as your website is up to date and easy to navigate, it also means that the power of word of mouth now has infinite reach, and experiences, positive or negative, can be shared instantaneously. This means you have to be on you’re A-game not only in customer service but in monitoring and responding to customer comments and feedback from a variety of online sources.
Customers share more today than they did 5 years ago. In the event that you are wondering if your customers are actually sharing their experiences enough for any of this to really matter to you, I think the numbers speak for themselves. 58% of respondents to a 2013 survey said that they were more likely to share an experience now than they were 5 years ago. The easy access to mobile apps and social media sites means that consumers can instantly share experiences while they are fresh, rather than having to wait until they get home to a computer to submit a review, write a letter, or call the store.
The Circle of Influence just got bigger. It’s said that the average person knows 300 people. Social media means that a customer posting information on the experience isn’t just reaching their circle of 300 friends or acquaintances, they are also potentially reaching a much larger and ever expanding audience through the circles of friends and family that weren’t previously reachable. That means an experience that one customer shares about your pharmacy has the potential to be read and shared over and over by an ever expanding group of potential customers.
Customers are more likely to share bad experiences than good ones: 95% of people said that they were likely to share a bad experience while 87% said that they would share a positive experience. It only takes a few really bad reviews to take your 4 star average down to a 3. The best way to combat this is to strive for excellent service in each interaction. You can also encourage your customers to share positive experiences. 87% certainly isn’t a bad percentage, but you can make it higher in your customer base.
Customers expect more. If a customer can instantly provide feedback on their experience in your pharmacy, it’s pretty likely that they are looking for a timely response. For example, 72% of customers sharing negative feedback via Twitter expect a response within an hour. The faster they can share it, the faster you need to respond to it. The only thing worse than not knowing about a customer’s concern is knowing about it and doing nothing.
It’s a lot to take in when you start thinking about all of the ways that consumers share information these days. The most important thing is to be aware of what your customers are saying about your pharmacy when you can’t hear them. If you aren’t listening and responding to your customers, someone else might.
Karen Deckard came to RMS with a background in retail and customer service, and was initially brought on board as a Sales Assistant and managed IIAS certifications for RMS’s pharmacy POS customers. Today, Karen works as a Customer Success Manager, striving to provide independent and institutional pharmacies with the tools and resources they need to succeed in today’s competitive pharmacy market.