Your pharmacy offers patients the over-the-counter (OTC) products, expert advice and prescription medications they need. But what your independent community pharmacy is really selling is a high level of personal customer service.
Customer service sets you apart from the big national chain pharmacies, and it’s what your pharmacy is likely known for. But, maintaining a high level of customer service requires constant upkeep—and review.
Fortunately, there are tools available to help. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) understands how important providing top-notch customer service is to the ultimate success of small businesses, and it has designed a webinar that can help you understand the components of excellent customer service, tips for the best customer service practices, and ways you can further improve your pharmacy’s current customer service.
Here are some takeaways from the SBA webinar on customer service.
Why customer service matters
If your customer experience is poor, it could cost you patients and business.
Customers who had a negative experience could complain, or just not come back to your pharmacy. And, if they share their unhappy experience on your website, social media pages, or on review websites, such as Yelp, their negative reviews could drive away potential new customers, as well.
Providing good customer service is essential to helping your small business compete. As a small business, it can be next to impossible to compete with large national chain pharmacy competitors when it comes to purchasing power and pricing. This makes it even more important for independent pharmacies, like yours, to offer patients personal care and excellent customer service to gain a competitive edge.
Plus, patients are willing to pay higher prices for a higher level of service. According to the SBA webinar, a 2011 American Express study found that 70 percent of consumers were willing to pay higher prices at a business that offered good customer service, and 81 percent of consumers already believe that small businesses offer better customer service than big businesses.
Establishing good customer service
Establish excellent customer service by putting a plan in place to address all of the various aspects of customer service, including first impressions, ethics, effective communication, building relationships and customer complaints.
If the first impression your pharmacy makes on a patient is negative, that interaction can set the stage for all future interactions. It’s essential to make sure your first interaction with patients is a positive one. Make sure your employees are especially kind and responsive to new patients, so the relationship starts off on the right foot.
Establish ethical standards you want your pharmacy employees to follow. Having these core values in place can help ensure that your reputation as a credible, honest, and quality-focused business remains intact. Plus, these guiding values will provide a framework for your high expectations of customer service.
Great communication starts with being responsive. Make your pharmacy’s communication personal, and be sure to regularly collect customer feedback and respond to it. It’s also important to make sure your nonverbal communication is open and welcoming.
The SBA also recommends following the 30/30 rule, where you greet patients within 30 seconds and 30 steps of entering your store.
Creating a strong relationship with each of your customers is the foundation for good customer service. Get to know your patients by asking questions and listening to them. Don’t forget to share information about your business, or yourself, to cement those bonds.
If you receive a customer complaint, the SBA recommends following a simple process to fix the issue. First, identify the root cause of the problem. Then, rectify the situation. Work to restore the relationship with the customer, and finally fix the problem. To fix any customer complaint, you or an employee, has to be available to the customer, and be able to diffuse tension. Remember to apologize for the issue, and to never leave an issue unresolved.
Ways to improve customer service
Take these steps today to improve your pharmacy’s customer service.
Train your employees
The SBA recommends that you start by training your employees on how to provide the best possible customer service. Your employees are the face of your business, so make sure that they’re always representing your pharmacy well. Incentivize good customer service with rewards, and provide regular feedback to employees.
Be active on social media
Establishing a social media presence that actively responds to reviews and ratings can also help improve your customer service. Designate an employee to regularly check your social media profiles and to respond to any positive or negative comments left by patients in a timely manner.
Establish a loyalty program
The SBA recommends establishing a loyalty program. These programs show customers that you value them. It can also help you gather information about your patients, and encourage repeat business.
Access the full SBA webinar for free.