What keeps customers coming back to your pharmacy?
By Gerry Spitzner
The biggest challenge of every retail pharmacy business in today’s hyper-competitive market is finding the right formula to attract customers and keep them.
Many businesses believe that the key to success is customer service satisfaction. But just satisfying customers doesn’t cut it anymore. Satisfied is somewhere just slightly above unsatisfied, but far below inspired, delighted and pleased. Satisfied is not where emotional connection, brand loyalty and creating, delivering and communicating compelling value take place.
Every business and every service offer a customer experience; when a customer visits a pharmacy they go through a journey. And that path to purchase comprises a set of experiences. And that journey is crucial to maximizing value from your customers' perspective. Those experiences shape how customers will react as you deliver your marketing messages and offer them additional services.
In this new era of retail pharmacy, what experiences are consumers looking for and how can you safely and effectively integrate them into your business strategy for growth?
The difference between "Customer Service" and “Customer Experience"
“Customer service" is the action of helping customers, and "customer experience" is the long-lasting emotion the customers take away with them, the emotion that makes them come back and the emotion that makes them rave about you and your pharmacy, to trust you and to refer you – which is now more important to retail pharmacy success than ever.
Think about the last time you had a really great experience as a customer — remember the ways that experience left you feeling. Now do the same for the last time you had a poor experience as a customer.
The way you think about customer experience has probably had a profound impact on how you look at the product or service and the business as a whole. This is just one reason why creating and obsessing over a great customer experience is so important.
Customer experience isn’t what you do, it’s how you make people feel
It’s much more than improving service ratings or decreasing wait times. Or how quickly a phone is answered, what hours you’re open, delivery times, etc. How customers feel is based on their perception of their total experience with your pharmacy.
A positive customer experience is crucial to the success of your business because a happy customer is one who is likely to become a loyal customer who can help you boost revenue. The best marketing that money can buy is a customer who will promote your business for you — one who's loyal to your pharmacy, promotes your business through word-of-mouth marketing, and advocates for your brand and your patient service(s).
Serve people, rather than just simply provide customer service
Your perspective should be to serve people-not service-customers. When you serve customers as people, it’s a positive feeling they get, they have, and they remember. And over time that feeling builds a deep lasting emotional connection.
Put the experience in the customer’s perspective and think about the customer as a “real” human being. Put yourself in your customers' shoes and help everyone on your team understand who your customers are and obsess about their needs.
Service experience has more impact on customer loyalty than any other function of a business
People always “buy” you first. Customers come back or stay with a pharmacy and often a specific pharmacist because of what it's like to work with the person providing the service.
The is particularly true in a patient service-based business model, where "you actually become the product." You are selling your knowledge and the time it takes to deliver it, so the customer gets the promised results and benefits. And since you are the product, the most value is face to face with the client.
Studies have found that 89 per cent of customers switch brands due to a bad customer experience. Service-related problems are behind most customer losses, not the price of a product or service. In fact, customer experience as a loyalty factor is the key brand differentiator now and into the future and makes the biggest difference in where people bring their vital repeat business. This is why the customer experience in retail Pharmacy matters.
People always remember emotional experiences
In today’s world, all business is built on relationships. While customers may first buy from you for a rational or cognitive reason such as price, location or selection. The decision to continue to buy anything from you is an emotional one. Trusted relationships are the new currency in the marketplace, and they are always built over time. Rarely on a single transaction.
Success in retail pharmacy boils down to the relationships you build with customers and if used wisely can be a huge competitive advantage. There is nothing that differentiates one pharmacy retailer from another more than the ability to engage customers and patients in a caring relationship. And there aren’t many better ways to develop a relationship with patients than through a prescription for a medication to treat an illness. So, in order to build the patient relationship, learn to turn your interaction with them and their questions into a health conversation.
Remember this important truism: the most profitable customer experience lies in the repeat business they provide, not in the first or any single transaction. When your patient services deliver a consistent meaningful customer experience, over time that will lead to a long-term loyal customer and an advocate for the pharmacy. The financial rewards will follow.
Finally, ask yourself this question: How will they talk about me and my team afterward to others? The answer will help to set up your pharmacy business!