For the pharmaceutical industry, finding balance in the ‘new normal’ can be challenging. Since the pandemic overwhelmed public health services across the globe, the last few years have seen key workers experience much higher volumes of work.
As the healthcare industry was already an understaffed workforce, the pandemic has meant that there have been limited resources and services available to customers.
To find a balance that assists in building a top-tier customer experience and maintains or increases your customer base, this blog post is dedicated to revealing different ways to improve customer services for pharmacies through:
- Increasing flexibility
- Embracing new methods
- Making a lasting impression
1. Flexibility is key
There are multiple ways to provide flexibility to customers. By expanding your current offerings with digital elements, you can create useful, lasting solutions that streamline your services, retain current customers, as well as bring in new customers who are looking for those conveniences that your flexibility provides.
Online medical consultations
One of the most time-consuming aspects for customers is physical GP visits. Coordinating busy schedules, paired with the COVID-19 health risks of leaving home that the pandemic brought on, made in-person consultations an inconvenience. These often came with an unspecified waiting period for service or receiving prescriptions, which put patients with increased health risks at a higher disadvantage.
Offering customers online medical consultations provides a quicker and more flexible service that eliminates those physical consultations and makes their lives easier. It creates an easier customer experience of getting what they need at their convenience – saving time by collecting their items directly from the pharmacy, rather than spending time travelling to their GP and then their local pharmacy.
Prescription Delivery Locker
Our last blog post provided tips on how to improve prescription deliveries to keep up with higher demands and changes in customer behaviour. One of the useful takeaways included implementing a click-and-collect locker system.
Having self-service pharmacy lockers for prescriptions that were approved online creates a smoother delivery process where staff can easily dispense the correct medications into smart lockers. Customers can then pick up their orders through QR codes at their own schedule, allowing for further flexibility, and in-store employees can spend less time finding and dispensing prescriptions and put more focus on providing better services to customers who need their full attention.
2. Embracing new methods
Being open to developing new methods of dispensing and providing care options is another key to providing better customer service. As well as providing new ways to stay on top of competitors in a growing market, embracing new methods to improve customer service for pharmacies also sets you apart as industry experts.
Online-to-offline care is a growing topic in the industry, opening the doors to move the patient journey to being fully digital. Changing healthcare delivery to be fully virtual would transform the way pharmacies operate and assist in improving patient outcomes for those with chronic diseases by lessening the stresses that comes with physical care.
The partnership of the Walgreens Boots Alliance and Microsoft is another example of this, with the two companies collaborating to provide virtual healthcare options to take their customer service to a higher level and make the buying experience not just more pleasant, but faster and more efficient.
To keep things fast and efficient and enable pharmacies to focus on clinical tasks, hub-and-spoke dispensing is a method to be considered. Its official description states:
“Hub and spoke dispensing is where parts of the dispensing process are undertaken in separate pharmacy premises. Typically, there are many ‘spoke’ pharmacies to one ‘hub’ pharmacy. The concept is that the simple, routine aspects of assembling prescriptions can take place on a large scale in a ‘hub’ that usually makes use of automated processes. This means that pharmacists and other staff in the ‘spokes’ are free to provide more direct patient care. Currently, it is only possible when the hub pharmacy forms part of the same retail business as the spoke pharmacy.”
If this form of dispensing is approved, an efficient delivery practice is key, and would allow for more services to be delivered, supports pharmacies by giving staff more time to provide patients with improved face-to-face customer experiences, and increases efficiency overall.
3. Making a lasting impression
Last, but certainly not least, impressions matter. Training employees to handle various patient scenarios and adapt to stressful situations is key, however, being a friendly face for customers to see when they arrive and welcoming them to a space where they need assistance with their health and wellbeing, is crucial.
Making sure they feel valued and heard is essential; however, national chain pharmacies and independent pharmacies alike can make the most of personalising customer service initiatives. To make a good, lasting impression, it can be as simple as creating a friendlier, automated ‘thank you’ email for online orders, or calling a loyal customer to update them about a purchase with a delayed collection time.
In summary, no matter the size of your business, there are various ways to improve customer service for pharmacies. Choosing the right method depends on professional goals and budget, but in general, these include:
- Increasing flexibility for customers, to improve customer satisfaction and retention through online consultations and prescription delivery lockers
- Embracing new methods of service to stay competitive and offer alternatives, such as virtual shifts and hub-and-spoke dispensing
- Staying on top of employee training for different customer situations to ensure customers feel valued and their pharmacy needs are in safe hands
Interested in Vpod Prescription Lockers to implement a click-and-collect solution?