March 13, 2015
Your patients already value the customer service your independent community pharmacy provides. That’s why they come to you—for the personal attention and individualized solutions you offer them.
Good customer service will satisfy your patients, but an outstanding customer experience will make them truly enthusiastic about your pharmacy.
“The pharmacist can come to the rescue, not only by providing medical expertise, but by just being the nicest person that patient has spoken to all day,” said John DiJulius, customer service expert, author and consultant. “The pharmacist wearing the white jacket can also be superman wearing the cape.”
DiJulius spoke with us about why it’s important for independent community pharmacies to provide world-class customer experiences to their patients, and how standout customer service can transform a pharmacist into a hero—and a friend.
You hear a lot today about the expanded role of the pharmacist in health care. Pharmacists don’t just fill prescriptions anymore. They offer vaccination services, provide screenings, counsel on diet and nutrition, and more.
As you work to expand your pharmacy’s services, don’t forget about the other role pharmacists have (and have had for decades.) Being someone who your patients trust and rely on.
“Pharmacists are there to do three things,” DiJulius said. “Be a health expert, make an emotional connection and give people hope for tomorrow.”
Only one of those is directly related to health care.
Remember that a huge part of the pharmacist’s role in patients’ lives has nothing to do with dispensing medications or providing services. In this realm, it pays to focus more on being someone who cares.
And while it’s important to stay professional, DiJulius warns of coming across as too professional—and cold.
“Don’t be so consumed with filling scripts,” DiJulius urged. “Be someone who makes patients smile and feel good. Physically and emotionally. Be a friend who cares about them.”
Some ways to do this include addressing your patients by name, asking about their families and recommending products based on your interactions. If you engage with your patients, show that you care and build their trust, then you’ll gain their loyalty.
Part of showing you care means getting on the same level.
“Speak patient talk, not the technical jargon,” DiJulius said. “Think about all the things the patient could be going through, including the worst case scenario. Have empathy and compassion.”
“Everyone in your pharmacy who interacts with a patient needs to show them they’re someone who cares,” he said.
Discuss your patients’ symptoms and solutions with them in simple terms, and put yourself in their shoes. Work with them to improve their health, or even just their day, and you’ll find that your patients look forward to interacting with you each time they return.
When you come up against a customer service issue, how you handle the experience can set the tone for how patients’ view your business.
Unhappy patients create a prime opportunity to put your customer service skills to work. “If a patient’s insurance doesn’t cover a particular medicine or the prescription needed isn’t in stock because it’s so rarely requested, none of those are the fault of the business, but they are your problem,” DiJulius said. “Every business has to understand that and be prepared to handle those situations.”
“These scenarios repeatedly happen, so why do so many businesses act like a deer in headlights when they occur?” he said. “Know that they are going to happen, and be prepared for them.”
Put protocols in place to address common issues that occur. Then, when they do happen, you can focus on showing your patients that you empathize with their situation, and explain how you’re going to help them find the best solution.
“The vast majority of the time the patient is going to be appreciative,” DiJulius said, “and so much more loyal because of it. Problems are just opportunities for you to be a hero to your patients.”
“When people come to a pharmacist, they are at their most vulnerable state. That is a golden opportunity to own the customer for life,” DiJulius said. “You come to the rescue, solve their problem, make them realize it will get better because you care, and that tomorrow is going to be better because you provided them with a plan. In doing so, you become a friend who cares about them.”
When someone approaches the pharmacy counter, greet the person within three seconds, suggests customer service expert, author and consultant John DiJulius. As you begin to interact with the patient, be sure to incorporate the five E’s.
John DiJulius is the founder and CVO (chief visionary officer) of The DiJulius Group, a customer experience consulting firm. As a speaker, author, entrepreneur and customer service authority, DiJulius teaches companies around the world about the importance of delivering a world-class customer experience.
DiJulius is passionate about redefining customer service, and firmly believes that it can be a business’ greatest advantage. Well-known organizations across America use his philosophies to mold their customer service models, yet DiJulius is dedicated to the small business, as well. Recently, DiJulius published his new book, “The Customer Service Revolution,” which is available now.