As an independent pharmacy owner or manager, you're required to wear many hats simultaneously to keep things running smoothly, including that of, conceivably, a pharmacist, a sales trainer, a manager, a motivator, a hirer/firer, an accountant and, perhaps most important, a dedicated pharmacy customer service expert. It's been determined through numerous studies that many pharmacy customers place your fast, friendly, personal service high on the list of reasons they choose to shop at your smaller, independent pharmacy rather than at the various big-box, chain store pharmacies at their disposal. In a study conducted by Drug Store News, it was found that, besides price, the two top criteria for choosing a pharmacy are service and location. As a neighborhood independent drugstore, you can offer both.
Kindness is King
Superior pharmacy customer service is responsible for not only keeping your customers happy but for growing your business. Happy customers spread the word about the excellent shopping experience you provide, and that brings their friends and family members into your store as well. This happens when you make serving your customers your number-one priority. When they walk through the door, they get a big smile and a warm, personal greeting from you or your staff member, using their name if you know it. If you don't know their name make it a point to learn and remember it. It's been proven that a person's name is like music to their ears, and who doesn't like music?
When they need assistance finding an item, rather than telling them which aisle it's in, take the time to walk them over to the item. This provides you the opportunity to give the kind of personalized attention most shoppers crave. It also gives you a chance to answer any questions they may have about a particular product and to recommend companion products that might go along with what they're already buying (up selling).
Chain-Store Versus Independent Community Drugstore
The reason many customers give for frequenting big-box pharmacies is cost savings on their medications but, in reality, there's little or no difference in the cost of prescription medicines between chains and independents. In fact, with many patients carrying insurance that simply requires a flat co-payment, chains and independents come out equal on cost.
The reasons many customers give for frequenting their local community pharmacy are many, however, and include:
- Shorter waiting times for prescription fills
- More services available
- A greater level of customer service
- Individual attention
- Higher customer satisfaction due to staff members being more knowledgeable and accurate
It's just the opposite when it comes to dealing with large chain-store pharmacies. Customers have come to expect long wait times and poor pharmacy customer service. Because of this, every single personal detail you can cover will add to your store's level of customer service. While big-box drugstores lure in customers through the use of large-scale advertising, sales coupons, reward cards, loyalty points, etc., small independents rely on service, both fast and friendly, to keep their competitive edge. Their use of word-of-mouth advertising becomes very effective and also saves money, allowing store owners to keep prices under control.
There are numerous factors to consider in building a profitable, successful pharmacy business. Every effort taken to create a customer shopping environment that's warm, inviting, easy, enjoyable and personable is important, but nothing really trumps sterling customer service.
Every little bit of extra effort will pay off, not only in making your customers feel needed, appreciated and valuable but also in making you and your staff members feel good about what they're providing day in and day out.