3 key tips to help you become a more intuitive, customer-focused pharmacist
On the surface, for many pharmacists meeting a customer’s needs might mean filling an Rx accurately with the appropriate counselling, but the more important benefit is not necessarily the patient’s stated purpose.
By Gerry Spitzner
Patient services are about applied health benefits, not just features.
Patients always seek to fulfill some intention beyond just a pill. While pharmacists often focus on the effects of disease and medication, patients focus mainly on the outcomes. In other words, they are seeking the applied benefit of your patient service.
Applied benefits are the outcomes patients expect beyond the prescribed medication. For example, take a newly diagnosed child with asthma. While the patient service you deliver may show how to optimize the use of the medication and the effective use of the metered dose inhaler (“puffer”), the real need the child’s mother wants fulfilled is not waking up in the middle of the night hearing her child screaming because of problems breathing. She wants her child to have a restful sleep and not wake up scared.
Applied health benefits are what customers ultimately want to achieve with both prescriptions and OTC medication. The value and benefits of the services you provide to customers and patients are in the applied benefits they seek to have fulfilled. Distinguish between features and benefits for patient services because when it comes to health services customers always “buy” applied benefits.
Learning how to deliver applied benefits starts with considering perspectives that differ from our own.
We all have bias that we bring to conversations and everyday situations. It’s only natural, we don’t often see the other side as clearly as we see ours. It’s worth taking some time to consider what the other person’s perspective is.
Here are my 3 key tips to help you become a more intuitive, customer-focused pharmacist:
#1. Consider the customer journey for a moment and visualize the pharmacy experience from the patient’s perspective. Since you have no idea what people are dealing with in their personal lives you must first understand the “why,” rather than the “how” and “what” in your interactions with them.
#2. Really listen to your customers. Find out what they really want and need versus simply giving them what you think they want.
#3. Ask them about their desired outcomes and help them figure out the best way to see tangible results.
On the surface, for many pharmacists meeting a customer’s needs might mean filling an Rx accurately with the appropriate counselling, but the more important benefit is not necessarily the patient’s stated purpose. There is always something in their lives other than simply filling the Rx that brought them to the pharmacy in the first place. For patients, the real value will always be in what a patient service delivers to them.
Gerry Spitzner is the founder and principal consultant of pharmacySOS.ca, a Vancouver-based business management consultancy providing strategic operations services focused on drug stores and pharmacies.