How to Provide Great Customer Service in Your Pharmacy

How to Provide Great Customer Service in Your Pharmacy by Elements magazine |

Inside: Discover the top traits of great customer service. And learn how your pharmacy can master them all.

How does your independent community pharmacy set itself apart if more than 90 percent of your business comes from the same prescription products that every other pharmacy sells?

There’s a way that doesn’t cost you anything but could gain you everything.

In one survey, consumers rated great customer service as the most important aspect of retailers, even over prices and products.

That especially rings true for pharmacy. Because pharmacies have little control over the prices of prescriptions.

So, if you set your independent pharmacy’s customer service apart, you’ll also set your business apart from the competition.

The Top 7 Customer Service Categories to Master

Prosper Insights & Analytics, an independent agency that evaluates businesses’ customer service each year, asks thousands of customers to rank retailers based on customer service.

Its findings revealed a list of keywords that consistently show up as the most important to consumers.

Customers use these words most often to describe great customer service.

And all of them make a difference in where people choose to shop.

The seven most important customer service keywords are:

1. Helpful
2. Easy
3. Quick
4. Problems
5. Shipping
6. Friendly
7. Knowledgeable

Master customer service in each of these categories and you’ll set your business apart from your competitors. And capture new customers.

1. Helpful

Helpfulness hinges on your pharmacy staff.

Eighty percent of shoppers never return to businesses when the staff acts indifferent.

When a patient walks in the door, make sure someone greets him or her.

The first thing a patient should hear is, “Hi. How are you?”

At the same time, shoppers don’t want to feel hounded. No one wants to feel like they’re walking into a used car lot.

A 2018 survey found that 95 percent of shoppers want to be left alone while shopping, unless they need a store associate’s help.

So, find a balance between helpful and overbearing.

If patients say they don’t need anything, let them browse. But always remain available if they need anything.

The only way to ensure patients receive the help they need when they need it is to always have enough staff available. When a patient has to wait for her question to get answered, she may move on or become irritated.

2. Easy

How easy is it for your patients to get what they need from your pharmacy?

Whether patients need a product or a service, they expect to get it without a hitch.

If your pharmacy creates obstacles for patients, then it doesn’t offer great customer service.

Ask yourself these questions to reveal how easy it is for patients to use your pharmacy:

  • Is the front end layout logically arranged?
  • Does the signage make it clear where every product is located?
  • Is a staff member available to help?
  • Are the most popular products at eye level on the shelves?
  • Do you offer prescription delivery?
  • Can patients get prescriptions through a drive-thru or curbside pickup?
  • Do patients have to provide unnecessary information to get their prescription?
  • Do you provide medication synchronization, so patients can get their medications at once?

3. Quick

For pharmacy patients, convenience is king.

Sorry to break it to you, but most patients want to spend as little time as possible at your pharmacy.

What does your pharmacy provide to help patients get in and out quickly?

Strategies to make your pharmacy a quick stop for patients:

  • Hire enough cashiers and pharmacists to reduce wait times
  • Implement an efficient pharmacy workflow to have patients’ scripts ready when they arrive
  • Invest in top-of-the-line POS systems for speedier checkouts
  • Offer a drive-thru or curbside pickup
  • Use electronic, online prescription services for quick refills and efficient information sharing

4. Problems

Do you have a team dedicated to handling customer complaints?

No matter how great your pharmacy is, problems always arise. Sometimes, a problem develops that you couldn’t foresee. Other times, patients merely perceive a problem.

The way you deal with the problem makes the difference between poor and great customer service.

Patients want to feel that they’re being heard and understood.

And they want the problem addressed quickly and fairly.

Make sure your pharmacy creates policies to address patients’ problems. Policies create a consistent approach and ensure that every patient gets the same great treatment.

Dedicate a staff member to handle all complaints.

When a staff member specializes in customer problems, he can learn how to navigate issues on the spot. And, he’ll have the answers that patients need without needing to ask someone else.

5. Shipping

The prevalence of online retail has created new expectations. More and more online retailers are providing shipping for free or at a low cost.

In fact, free shipping is the number one incentive customers cite as their reason to shop online over brick-and-mortar stores.

Even if shipping isn’t free, customers expect shipping to be available for a price.

With online pharmacies vying for more of the pharmacy market, independent pharmacies need to adapt.

Offer to ship or deliver prescriptions to your patients’ homes or workplaces to provide great customer service.

6. Friendly

Friendliness sounds like a simple way to provide great customer service.

Most of the time, it is.

But when customers are difficult, being friendly is one of the hardest traits to exercise. Sometimes patients act mean, impatient, or flat out rude.

It takes sacrifice to maintain composure, to smile, and to speak nicely.

Remaining a friendly pharmacy comes down to who you hire and how you train your staff.

When you hire genuinely friendly and patient people, you know they’ll act friendly to patients even during difficult interactions.

Otherwise, you need to train them to do so. And, create a culture that fosters and rewards friendliness.

You’ll also need repercussions in place for any staff members who don’t meet those standards.

7. Knowledgeable

Patients often come to your pharmacy confused and anxious.

Maybe they’ve received an unexpected diagnosis. Or perhaps their doctor prescribed something they’ve never heard of. Maybe they’re looking to relieve symptoms but don’t know where to start.

Your pharmacy staff should answer all their questions and put them at ease.

Make sure your staff is trained on your front end including where products are located and what each product does.

They should have enough knowledge to answer questions about the most popular over-the-counter (OTC) products.

And, your pharmacists need to make themselves available to answer any medication questions.

Now that you know how to offer great customer service, what changes will you make to your independent pharmacy today?


A Member-Owned Company Serving Independent Pharmacies

PBA Health is dedicated to helping independent pharmacies reach their full potential on the buy-side of their business. Founded and owned by pharmacists, PBA Health serves independent pharmacies with group purchasing services, wholesaler contract negotiations, proprietary purchasing tools, and more.

An HDA member, PBA Health operates its own NABP-accredited secondary wholesaler with more than 6,000 SKUs, including brands, generics, narcotics CII-CV, cold-storage products, and over-the-counter (OTC) products — offering the lowest prices in the secondary market.


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Elements is written and produced by PBA Health, a buy-side solutions company.

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