5 Mental Customer Quirks For a More Profitable Pharmacy

In any business where sales is part of the mix, marketing 101 tells you to establish buyer personas.  What kind of person is your ideal customer?  And what kinds of people actually shop in your store?  But this can be tricky to do.  There’s no doubt its valuable, but in a small, local business, developing buyer personas, let alone figuring out how to cater to all of them, is far easier said than done.

So if establishing a buyer persona isn’t the answer for you, how do you know how to properly market your pharmacy and keep customers happy?  This is where a simple understanding of human psychology can be a great help. Yes, I really did just say psychology.  Don’t worry it’s just a small dose.  You see, there are 5 little, well quirks you might call them, that pretty much everyone has in common.  Things our brain does that we don’t even notice, but that can have a huge impact on our buying habits.  These quirks are known as Explanatory Attribution, Confirmation Bias, Self-Serving Bias, Belief Bias and The Framing Effect (also known as Loss Aversion).  Let’s dive in to each of these oddities and find out how understanding how the wheels turn can change your business for the better. 

1)      Explanatory Attribution is our inclination to explain behavior on the basis of personality.  So in business, how a customer perceives the character of your company will outweigh a large number of other factors.   Circumstances and excuses carry little to no weight, so even if something goes wrong and it’s 100% outside of your control, blaming someone else won’t work in your favor.   The great thing is that sidestepping the possibly negative effects of the attribution error will do a lot for your business.  You must have a crystal clear picture of who you are as a company. Live your mission statement and show your values in every interaction you have with a customer.  And if something does go wrong, just take responsibility and move on. 

2)      Have you ever doubted or discounted something because it sounded, well, a little out there?   If you have, you’ve demonstrated Belief BiasBasically this means that if something sounds unbelievable, we’ll reject it, no matter how sound the argument or convincing the evidence.  Big surprise, we have a tendency to rely on gut instinct and emotion before we even take logic into account.  So appeal to your customers emotions.  Promoting yourself as a hometown business, or sharing stories of how you’ve gone above and beyond to help patients are all great ways to appeal to your customers emotions.  Also make sure that you explain things clearly and simply. Don’t use complicated language, even if it may seem run of the mill to you. 

3)      People don’t like to be critiqued.  It’s a special skill to take any sort of criticism or correction well, even if it’s constructive.  This is called Self-Serving BiasThis has several important implications for working with customers in disease state management and patient counseling, but it’s also important to remember from a retail aspect that challenging a customer might not be worth it. If a customer misreads a sign and thinks an item is on sale that isn’t, it may be better to make the correction on your side rather than making it seem as though the customer misinterpreted information or got something wrong. 

4)      Confirmation Bias may at first sound like belief bias.  But more accurately, it’s a different side of the same coin.  Where belief bias means that people aren’t likely to believe something that sounds outlandish, confirmation bias is our propensity to rationalize and support our existing beliefs and ignore anything that challenges those beliefs.  The most important aspect to making confirmation bias your friend is making a good first impression.  This will color how a customer interacts with you for the entirety of the relationship.  That impression will create belief and trust in your brand, which can help to overcome any number of obstacles in the future. Check out these tips on making a good first impression. 

Avoiding_the_pitfalls_of_psychology_for_a_more_profitable_pharmacy_leap5)      Finally, let’s take a closer look at something called The Framing Effect, perhaps better known as Loss Aversion.  We generally have a proclivity to avoid risks when the end result is exhibited as a gain.  But if that same risk is presented as a loss, we’re more likely to take that leap.  So how we phrase advertisements, discounts, etc. will have a big impact on their overall success.   Advertisements counseling patients on how avoid bad outcomes will be more effective than trying to get them to make a change to create benefit.

Now that you have a basic understanding of why psychology can have such a big impact on your business, what changes will you make? 

karen-croppedKaren 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.