October 19, 2015
Your patients choose your independent community pharmacy because of the high level of customer service and patient care that you and your staff provide.
Even if your pharmacy has a strong reputation for customer service, there are always ways to improve it to gain new patients and retain current ones.
Use these 31 tips to continue to wow your patients by taking their customer service experience to the next level.
Put your simple, clearly stated customer service policy in writing. Make sure every employee understands his or her responsibilities when it comes to interactions with patients, so your excellent service will be consistent from employee to employee.
Anticipate problems and train your employees to solve them before issues even occur. This way, when a problem does arise, it’s solved as fast as possible (if not instantly) for optimal patient satisfaction.
In order for your employees to provide excellent patient care, they need to understand why customer service is important, and derive their own satisfaction from helping patients.
Offering a money back guarantee on your front-end items will make your patients feel more comfortable with their purchases—leading many to make a purchase that they otherwise wouldn’t have made. And if you pride your pharmacy on offering quality products, products will seldom be returned.
Objectively define what outstanding customer service is for your employees, so your expectations are not left up to interpretation.
A simple smile can go far toward creating an excellent customer service experience. Your patients will know you’re happy to see them, and happy to be their community pharmacist—something they aren’t likely to see from a national chain whose employees are overwhelmed with volume.
Your community comes to your independent pharmacy for the genuine patient care they can’t find elsewhere. Identify customer service weaknesses your patients have experienced at national chains or other independent pharmacies, and make those your customer service strengths.
Make it easy for patients to find out more about you! Clearly explain your scope of services, hours and location on your website, and have educational literature readily available in your store. Most importantly—make sure you or your employees are always available to answer questions.
Not only can over-promoting desensitize your patients to your product and service offerings, but it can be plain annoying, too.
Your employees are the ones delivering your pharmacy’s customer service, and their thoughts are invaluable. They can tell you why a certain customer service policy might not be working, problems they’re having resolving patients’ concerns, and ideas to improve customer service and patient care.
There is no bigger turn-off for a patient than being treated as less than intelligent. Your patients are coming to you for guidance concerning their medication, but there is a good chance that they could provide you advice on a different topic. Be tactful in the way you explain instructions, and be sure do deliver them without patronizing.
Not only will taking the time to really listen to your patients make them feel valued, but their thoughts will also reveal weaknesses in your customer service that you can address. Even if you think you know what they need, let them tell you anyway. They’ll appreciate you taking the time to listen.
If you or your employees don’t know the answer to a question or the solution to a problem—find out. If you can’t solve a problem right away, let the patient know. But also tell the patient that you’ll work to figure it out. Going the extra mile for a patient, even if it’s spurred by a problem, can create a loyal patient.
Customer service can’t stand alone. It needs to be backed up the quality products you offer. Don’t cut corners here; only stock quality front-end products that you believe in and that your patients will want to use.
Knowing how to cross-sell properly can put products in the hands of those who need them, and prevent you from bothering others with items they’re not interested in.
If you or an employee notices a patient having a particularly hard time, make it a point to send a special note in the mail to the patient. In the note, let the patient know that you appreciate her coming to your pharmacy and that you’re there for her. This small extra touch will take your customer service to the next level.
Your patients will know that you care about their health when you have a brief check-up phone call, or even leave them a voicemail. And, this additional point of contact and extra effort is likely to increase referrals.
A calming environment will put your patients at ease, whether they’re just picking up a regular prescription, or if you’re discussing a more sensitive, stressful matter. Be tidy, but not barren. Have minor, welcoming décor, but not clutter. And one of the easiest ways to instantly up your pharmacy’s ambiance is with proper lighting.
Make all of your patients feel welcome in your pharmacy. Offer services and events for children, be mindful of different cultures and make sure your pharmacy is accessible for elderly patients or those with a disability.
Make sure the first thing your patients experience when they walk in your door is a friendly greeting from you and your staff. Often at large chain pharmacies, techs and pharmacists are too busy to even make eye contact with their patients during transactions, much less when they enter the store. A helpful “hello” comes at no cost to you, yet heightens your patients’ entire experience.
A clean pharmacy is an important part of excellent customer service because a clean environment feels orderly and cared for—just like patients want their health to be.
When your patients do have to wait a few minutes while you fill their prescription, make your waiting area is comfortable.
Talk to your patients—especially ones that you see frequently—about what they like about your pharmacy’s services, products they’d like to see added, or other services they’d benefit from. They’ll feel valued, and you could find your pharmacy’s next big idea.
Make your pharmacy’s website easy-to-find, and ensure the information on it is clear and concise. If your website isn’t easy-to-use, prospective patients will think your pharmacy isn’t easy-to-use, either.
You and your staff should be available both by phone and in-person. Make it easy for patients to schedule synchronized pick-up times and counseling appointments. Don’t forget to also allot time throughout the day to counsel walk-in patients.
Reach out to patients to create positive interactions outside of your normal communication concerning refills and medication questions. Send patients birthday or holiday cards, and consider giving your handful of most loyal patients a phone call to wish them a happy birthday. Also, give veterans a thank you call for their service on Veterans Day.
Be a source of quality health information for patients. Whether that’s through a blog on your website, literature available in your pharmacy or classes for the community. Free educational classes are also a great way to build credibility.
Make sure your patients know that you are grateful for their time, and for their business. Consider sending handwritten thank you notes to new patients, and tell them you’re excited to see them again during their next visit.
After a mistake or inconvenience from your pharmacy, a verbal apology is a great place to start, but also tell your patients what you’re going to do to resolve their problems. Here are some ideas to make your apology count.
When you make a promise, keep it. Follow through on that money-back guarantee. Have prescriptions ready on time. Most importantly, have a realistic view of what you’re able to offer your patients in special circumstances. You want to go above and beyond for your patients, without stretching you and your staff too thin.
When your staff is eager to provide excellent customer service, it will be genuine. Help your staff understand the fulfillment that comes with providing quality service to your patients, and they will be pleased to do so.
Deliver more than what your patients expect with superior customer service in your pharmacy.