This past weekend I visited our local BBQ festival. It was an amazing day sampling all kinds of delicious food. I’ll be working off the extra calories for weeks, and I got a little sunburned, but it was definitely worth it.
Yummy, BBQ aside though, something about the event left a sour taste in my mouth that’s had me thinking about the importance of knowledgeable staff all weekend. You see, the event staff was unable to answer even the most basic questions. And instead of being helpful, my friends and I were met with a deadpan “I don’t know” to every question. “How many tickets does each vendor charge for a sample on average?” received an ” I don’t know”. Even worse “Where can we find restrooms?” You guessed it.. they didn’t know.
Now there’s nothing wrong with not knowing the answer to a question. But leaving a customer hanging is never the right answer. Yet it can be tricky to navigate scenarios where a customer is asking a difficult or new question. There’s a desire to appear knowledgeable so you can earn trust. But there’s also fear of answering a question wrong and looking like you don’t know what you’re doing. So, here are a few tips to help your pharmacy staff deal with unknowns a little easier.
1) Never leave it at “I don’t know”. If you or your staff don’t provide a customer an answer to their question, they’re going to go somewhere else where they can get an answer. Try “I’m not 100% sure but I bet my manager knows so let me go confirm with her.”
2) Don’t provide an answer when you’re not sure it’s correct. We all know why this is detrimental. Especially in the pharmacy industry. But even something as simple as “Which aisle are bandages on?” can damage a customer relationship if the wrong answer is given. So if you don’t know, try “You know, I think they are on aisle 10, but I’m not sure so why don’t I go look with you.” Easy, simple, and personal.
3) Don’t make the customer run in circles. It can be really frustrating to a customer if they’re told to go talk to this person, and then that person. Try, if at all possible, to maintain the same point of contact throughout the conversation. They feel more comfortable, and you get to learn something new in the process.
Of course, the best way to deal with unknowns is to try to eliminate them as much as possible. Train your pharmacy staff on how to use the technology tools available and make sure they’re educated on processes, procedures and basic store information. In my situation this weekend, you can bet that event planners had the information their booth staff was being asked about. 15 minutes of training would have alleviated a good deal of frustration on both sides. Just remember that no one person has the answer 100% of the time. And part of being knowledgeable is knowing what to do when you just don’t know.