July 2, 2020
Inside: Patient feedback can help your pharmacy meet community needs, build loyalty, and boost revenue.
Your digital analytics and data from your POS system can tell you a lot about your patients — but sometimes, the best way to find out what they want is to ask for feedback.
By asking patients for feedback, you can not only determine what areas you excel at, but which areas have room for improvement. Armed with that data, you can improve your customer service, your product selection, and more.
Not only that, when you ask for your patients’ opinions, you show them that you care about their personal experience and value their input. That alone can increase patient satisfaction.
Here are a few ways you can gather feedback and keep patient satisfaction high at your pharmacy.
Email and text message surveys are a cost-effective way to collect useful information from your patients.
Since patients receive loads of emails every day, it’s important that your survey email stands out with an engaging subject line.
Once you’ve convinced patients to open the message, keep the body text short and to the point. You can entice more people to fill out the survey by offering an incentive like an exclusive discount. Assure them that the survey will only take five minutes out of their day, and that it’s an easy way to help the pharmacy.
If you have patients’ phone numbers on record, SMS surveys can be a more effective way to gather feedback than email. Patients open texts 98 percent of the time, while they only open email 20 percent of the time.
Not all of your patients regularly use a computer or smartphone. For your less tech-savvy patients, use a paper survey to gather information about customer satisfaction. You don’t want to miss out on valuable information from a crucial demographic like senior patients because they’re not comfortable with a computer.
Even though some patients might find them easier to use, paper surveys do have their downsides. In order to analyze the data, you have to input all the survey answers into the computer yourself. You also have to contend with messy handwriting and rushed answers.
Because you’re handing the survey directly to the patient, it’s difficult to maintain anonymity, and the person filling out the survey might hesitate to be honest. Still, some feedback is better than no feedback.
The way you write survey questions will affect the quality of the feedback you receive from patients. It helps to have a clear goal in mind when you create your survey and design your questions around it.
Keep these best practices in mind when writing surveys for patients:
If your survey is too long or the questions are confusing, people will be less likely to complete it. A concise, well-written survey will give you the most useful results.
Let your patients know that you’re eager to hear their thoughts even when you’re not actively sending out surveys by having a suggestion box.
By seeking suggestions all the time, you can catch problems you may not have asked about in a survey. You can go old school, where patients can write suggestions on a slip of paper and put it in a physical box in the pharmacy, but a high tech feedback box can be especially helpful in improving your web presence.
If a patient is browsing on your website and isn’t able to find exactly what they are looking for, let them tell you without leaving the site. On the bottom of every page on your website, ask, “How can we improve?” The question should link to a suggestion form that patients can fill out anonymously.
When it comes to feedback, there are things that patients may not be willing to say to your face but they feel perfectly comfortable posting online.
Make it a habit to check in on what patients are posting on review sites and social media. If patients leave criticisms on review sites like Yelp or Google, respond quickly and try to resolve the issue. Hopefully, that patient will walk away satisfied and other online visitors will be impressed that you made an honest effort to remedy the situation.
Respond to the positive reviews, too, thanking them for their business and kind words.
You should also look at social media sites to see what people are saying about you. Patients may not tag your pharmacy, so search your name to see if anything pops up. Negative feedback that is posted on a public forum can scare away potential new patients, so it’s important to keeps tabs of what people are saying online.
After a poor customer service interaction, you may wish you could go back in time and do everything over. Until someone invents a working time machine, the next best thing is reviewing recorded calls and chat logs.
By reading through transcripts of live chats with patients or listening to recorded calls, you can identify points of confusion for patients or frequently asked questions. From there, you can create more resources, train staff members on talking points, and create an overall better customer experience for patients.
Timing is everything when it comes to gathering feedback. If you send an email survey to a patient who hasn’t visited in several months, they won’t be likely to fill it out, and even if they do, their input may not be relevant.
The best time to ask for feedback is soon after a patient has been into the pharmacy to buy products or use one of your services. That way, the experience is fresh in their mind and they can provide specific, actionable details.
If patients are using a pharmacy app or website for services like delivery or refills, you can ask them to rate their experience immediately after they complete the transaction. Integrating feedback to become part of the buying process means patients aren’t as likely to get distracted by something else.
There are many high tech ways to collect information and feedback from your patients, but don’t discount the benefits of in-person communication.
When patients come into your store, give them your full attention. Answer questions promptly and listen to any points of frustration.
You don’t have to interrogate people with a list of qualitative questions, but you can casually inquire about their experiences in the store. Slip questions like this into your conversations with patients:
These one-on-one conversations can tell you a lot about how patients are using your pharmacy and how you can better serve them.
PBA Health is dedicated to helping independent pharmacies reach their full potential on the buy side of their business. The company is a member-owned organization that serves independent pharmacies with group purchasing services, expert contract negotiations, proprietary purchasing tools, distribution services, and more.
An HDA member, PBA Health operates its own NABP-accredited (formerly VAWD) warehouse with more than 6,000 SKUs, including brands, generics, narcotics CII-CV, cold-storage products, and over-the-counter (OTC) products.
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