Customers increasingly dissatisfied with mail-order pharmacies

October 1, 2013

The level of customer satisfaction with mail-order pharmacies continues to decline well below that of brick-and-mortar pharmacies, according to a study by J.D. Power and Associates.

The level of customer satisfaction with mail-order pharmacies continues to decline well below that of brick-and-mortar pharmacies, according to a study by J.D. Power and Associates.

The study measured customer satisfaction with brick-and-mortar pharmacies across 5 areas-prescription ordering and pickup, store, cost competitiveness, non-pharmacist staff, and pharmacist. With mail-order pharmacies, the study examined customer satisfaction with cost competitiveness, prescription delivery, prescription ordering, and customer service.

Scores were based on responses from 12,700 pharmacy customers who filled a prescription three months prior to the survey period of July and August 2012.  Mail-order pharmacies averaged a 792 overall satisfaction score (on a 1,000 point scale), 14 points lower than the previous year.

By contrast, brick-and-mortar pharmacies averaged an overall satisfaction score of 814, 4 points lower than the previous year. Customer satisfaction scores declined in each of the 4 areas examined in mail order.

“The erosion in customer satisfaction with mail-order pharmacies may foretell challenges to their business model, as prior to 2011 customer satisfaction was more equivalent to the brick-and-mortar experience,” said Rick Millard, senior director of healthcare practice at J.D. Power and Associates. “Acceptance of mail-order programs grew by offering customers convenience and lower costs. While this has been a successful approach, the mail-order business needs to continue to adapt to meet customers’ increasing expectations.”

Customers cited location convenience and customer services as the key factors in selecting a brick-and-mortar pharmacy. “Customer service is becoming an increasingly important advantage of the brick and mortar pharmacy experience,” Millard said. “The pharmacist is at the heart of that customer services. While the majority of customers don’t speak with a pharmacist in person, their presence may help draw customers to stores.”