Improving the customer experience in your pharmacy

Improving the customer experience in your pharmacy phonesIf you ask someone what they do for a living and they tell you that they are in customer service, chances are that you’ll think of a retail setting, or maybe a call center.  But the truth is, we are all in some sort of customer service role.  Whether we interact directly with consumers, or whether our customers are actually employees, co-workers or business partners, we all provide some sort of service to other people in our jobs.  But just because we all do it, doesn’t mean that everyone is good at it.  Extraordinary customer service seems to be increasingly rare, and providing service that’s good enough for your customers to talk about to their friends and family is almost impossible.  At the same time, consumers are becoming better informed, and expect more than ever before when it comes to any shopping experience or business interaction. Word of mouth is perhaps an independent businesses most valuable advertising tool, but customers are more likely to share bad experiences than good ones. 

So what’s the recipe for providing a good enough customer experience to get people to share and talk? A recent article from Forbes provides a good structure for creating a memorable and exceptional customer experience.  Here are some ways to expand on this structure in your pharmacy.

Connect and Attract:  Put an advertisement in the local newspaper, or partner with doctors’ offices to have each other’s business cards or flyers in waiting areas.  If you’re on a main road, window displays can do a lot to attract new business.  Make sure you have a clear marketing strategy and brand that makes your pharmacy easily identifiable. Check out this article for some more ideas.

Orient: This is where a customer loyalty program can be a huge asset to your pharmacy.  Loyalty can be a simple “spend money, earn points, get money back” setup, or could be more advanced.  “Join the vitamin club to receive a special offer every Wednesday.”  Stores like REI or Barnes and Noble even charge for entry into their loyalty program and you can bet that when REI lets me know about a special event that my membership buys me access to, I’m there.  Here are some more ideas on building a loyalty program.

Transact, Extend and Retain: You can’t be there to run every transaction so you’ll need to rely on staff to help you make sure that each interaction is as positive as possible and meets the bar you’ve set for each customer experience.  Well trained staff who understand policy, procedure, and your technology are your biggest asset here.  Make sure to set aside some funds in your annual budget for training from technology vendors and other types of continuing education for your staff. 

Advocate and Share the Journey: Provide your customers with a place to talk with you and with each other.  If you don’t make it clear that you value their feedback, you could risk having customers walk out the door, never returning and you never knowing why.  If you don’t know what you are doing right or wrong, your efforts to improve the customer experience and turn your customers into raving fans is likely to fall flat.  Of course, opening yourself up to the world of customer feedback can be scary and overwhelming.  Check out this blog for some tips on how to manage and take advantage of consumer reviews.

“Make Every Touch Point Uniquely Yours”:  Do something that your competition can’t or won’t do. Especially if your biggest competitor is a big box store, you should be able to find something that is unique to your pharmacy.

“Focus on Your Core” and make that difference part of your customer experience as well as part of your competitive advantage.  Check out how one RMS customer took a completely different spin on independent pharmacy and is using her unique setup to its fullest advantage.

“Fight Through It”: While all of these changes can help you improve the customer experience and subsequently grow your business, none of them will be an overnight fix for your pharmacy.  Surround yourself with a solid, dedicated passionate staff and partners who can support you as you work to turn a simple transaction at your store into an experience your customers will be loving and sharing.  

 

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