Consumers have many options when it comes to their pharmaceutical purchases. Keep them coming back to you.
With all the competition your pharmacy faces, it’s more important than ever to leverage your pharmacy’s unique ability to meet and exceed expectations and strike the right customer experience (CX) balance.
Two-thirds of the 15,000 respondents to PwC’s “Future of Customer Experience Survey 2017/18” felt that companies have lost touch with the human element of CX. Three-quarters said they want more human interaction, not less, and an equal number indicated that a positive experience is among the key drivers that influence their loyalties.
They are even prepared to pay more for better CX. “People are increasingly loyal to the retailers, products, brands and devices that consistently provide exceptional value with minimum friction or stress,” PwC stated in a report on the survey.
1. Get Your Employees on Board
Liz Tiefenthaler, president of Pharm Fresh, a marketing company, says a well-trained staff is critical to improving customer loyalty. One pharmacy owner learned that the hard way. “She had a really crabby pharmacist on her staff, and before she realized it she’d lost 20% of her business in six months,” says Tiefenthaler. “Customers were leaving because they couldn’t stand this woman, so she had to fire her.”
Tiefenthaler recommends regularly scheduled sessions with staff to discuss operational issues, solicit feedback, and brainstorm proactive ways to improve things. “You get the buy-in from your staff, you work towards a better solution for patients and staff, and you’ve found a way to build loyalty in your patient base,” she says.
2. Perfect a Personal Touch
“Building customer loyalty really goes back to our professional role and rapport, developing the ability to relate positively to patients,” says Stephen Giroux, RPh, owner of a chain of pharmacies in western New York State.
Giroux personalizes the Prescribe Wellness patient engagement system’s prerecorded birthday call by singing the greetings himself. The response has been great. “Everything from, ‘What did you do with the money your mother gave you for singing lessons?’ to patients coming in to thank me, some in tears, because it was the only call they got on their birthday,” he says.
Pharmacists can enjoy the loyalty and repeat business they can develop with just a little creative and thoughtful effort, he says.
3. Tap into Digital Media
Justin Wilson, PharmD, relies heavily on a social media presence to promote his seven pharmacies in Oklahoma. He outsources it to professionals to create and manage the social media accounts for his stores.
“We do a mix of fun posts, educational, and informational posts, and some marketing mixed in,” he explains. “Outsourcing helps us keep up consistency with our messaging, but also can alert us when patients have issues or questions through those platforms.”
NCPA’s senior director of Store Operations and Marketing Gabe Trahan says it’s not so much the media as it is the message. People choose a pharmacy, he says, “by how much you can convince them it’ll be a better experience in your store.”
4. Expand Clinical Services
Vaccinations, MTM, blood pressure monitoring, and similar services can help your patients get the best possible treatment and outcome at the lowest cost. The fact that you’re also building better rapport and loyalty is a bonus.
Don’t forget to promote the clinical services you offer, says Katherine O’Neal, PharmD, MBA, and associate professor in the Department of Pharmacy at the University of Oklahoma. “If patients aren’t aware of it, they don’t know to ask for it,” she says. She also encourages pharmacists to remain competitive by staying current with new technologies and initiatives, including CMS Star Ratings.
5. Reward Customer Loyalty
A customer loyalty program establishes a relationship between your pharmacy and your regular customers by offering rewards like special products, promotions, or pricing based on purchases.
Are loyalty programs worth it? Consider that the cost of acquiring a new customer can be five to 10 times more than selling to a current customer who spends, on average, 67% more than those who are new to your business.