The world of retail is changing. There’s no way to slow it down, get around it, or alter the course of what’s to come. But a surprising number of retailers still seem to operate under a set of severely misguided principles. Outdated ideas focused more on the bottom line than anything else. Of course that bottom line is important to any business, but you can choose the road you take to get there. Walk into almost any big box store and you can easily see the wrong way to do things. Even if their business model says customers first, they aren’t really living by that mantra. Instead, they are making three very big, and potentially very costly mistakes that you can learn and profit from.
Price is not the most important thing. If price, or even convenience, were the driving factors in the success of retail businesses, we’d all be at risk of being put out of business by big box stores, and even those would be threatened by online retailers like Amazon and Zappos. But it turns out that price really doesn’t have a lot to do with attracting and retaining a loyal customer base. Instead, it’s all about service and the customer experience. Check out this list of 15 statistics on customer satisfaction and loyalty and you’ll see why exceptional service makes such a difference in the success of your business. Especially in an environment where your customers rely on you for sound health and disease state management advice, how that service is provided can either make or break your relationship with a customer.
Employees are not replaceable. It’s easy to tell the businesses that treat their employees like a disposable commodity versus those that value them. A high employee turnover rate is bad no matter which way you look at it. For starters, there’s a lot of expense involved to advertise for, hire, and train a new employee. That’s expense that you don’t need to be putting out. Cost aside, if your goal is to attain a good base of loyal customers, how are those repeat customers supposed to feel if every time they visit your store, they are greeted by a brand new face? You can’t expect loyal customers if you don’t have loyal employees, so invest in them by providing ongoing training and a positive work environment where they can feel empowered and effective. Happy employees will provide better service which, as we already discovered, helps you maintain a loyal customer base.
The customer may not always be right. I don’t mean that you should argue over your customers over little things because of a misunderstanding. In fact, empowering your employees to make changes and concessions to improve customer service is something I highly recommend. What you do need to consider is that you and your staff are experts at what you do so it’s okay to advise a customer to follow a different path or choose a different product. I know this is a tough one to get past. It’s something that’s ingrained in our brains the moment we become consumers. But the truth is that you are the expert in your field and sometimes a little correcting is needed to get customers on right path. If you don’t, and they are dissatisfied with their purchase, their entire opinion of your store could be colored by that one negative experience.
This week, I encourage you to do something that I normally wouldn’t advise. Go check out the big box store competition. See the mistakes that they are making first hand, and find some inspiration to do things differently in your pharmacy. And then make the choice to do things a little differently and make your pharmacy stand above the rest.
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.