There are a number of tried and true methods for providing great customer service. Everyone knows the basics – having a genuine smile, offering a personal greetings, asking the right questions, being prompt and knowledgeable, and certainly not least, courteous. There’s nothing earth shattering there.
But so often, it’s not what you’re doing right that has the biggest impact, it’s what you’re doing wrong. Customers are much more likely to share a negative experience than a positive one and even the smallest irritation can wipe every other facet of the experience off the board.
But what are the biggest irritations to customers? Well, all you have to do to answer this question is think about your retail experiences. What got under your skin and left you with a bad impression of a business? Here are 5 simple rules for avoiding some of the most common retail mistakes.
Avoid the bare minimum – It’s easy to run a transaction, answer the customer’s questions, and let them walk out the door. What’s wrong with that? Well, pretty much everything because while you might not have done anything bad, you certainly didn’t do anything amazing. That bare minimum perspective leaves a lot on the table. You could have recommended a supplement along with a prescription purchase, let your customer know about saving money with private label products, talked to them about the advantages of joining your customer loyalty program (or thanked them for being a loyal customer already). If you didn’t do any of those things, your customer is missing out, and so is your pharmacy.
Don’t make customers wait – Long lines are one of the biggest frustrations for retail customers. If wait times are extreme, the customers who do bother to stick around, are a lot less likely to come back. Make sure you have the right pharmacy technology resources to handle the customer volume you have. Even in 75% of the time, 1 register is enough, that 25% of the time that it’s not can do big damage. Supplementing your setup with mobile POS, or adding another traditional register is well worth the investment if it keeps customers from becoming frustrated. Also, if you have to make a customer wait, be sure to set the right expectations. Be realistic and honest. Setting the expectation for a 10 minute wait up front is better than saying 5 and not being able to follow through.
Leave no question unanswered – Have you ever had a question and gotten the answer “I don’t know,” followed by a black hole of silence? It’s a pretty good bet that we all have. Not having the answer to every question is perfectly acceptable. (It’s certainly better than giving an uninformed, inaccurate response.) Leaving an “I don’t know” without a follow up isn’t. When you don’t know, tell the customer what you’re going to do to find out. Set the expectation right from the outset that you’re going to find the right person to talk with. If you don’t answer a customer’s question, they’ll find someone else who will, and that someone else just might take that customer’s business as well.
Don’t treat all transactions the same – There’s a big difference from someone stopping by to grab a bottle of pain reliever, someone who regularly refills prescriptions, and someone who’s filling a prescription for the first time. They aren’t the same kind of transaction and they shouldn’t be treated as such. Each situation represents its own opportunity. That walk-in customer is a great candidate for signing up for your loyalty program. A regular customer should be a more casual conversation while you’re still making sure they are up to date on supplements and other OTC needs. That first time prescription might need a little more attention and some counseling. There’s no one size fits all, so make sure you recognize the unique needs of each customer and then use the right point-of-sale solution to meet those needs.
Always own up to your mistakes – We tend to take mistakes personal. We take pride in the job that we do and do not want to be told that we did it wrong. But as hard as it is, owning up to a mistake you made and laying out a plan to fix it is the only sensible course of action. Make sure that accountability is your policy because no matter what, mistakes are going to happen. (Of course you can minimize them by using pharmacy POS.)
The first step to getting your pharmacy from run of the mill customer service to outstanding customer service is to identify the gaps. Once you’ve done that, you can easily use pharmacy point-of-sale based tools to help take you the rest of the way.