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How Pharmacies Can Focus on Customer Service

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How Pharmacies Can Focus on Customer Service
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How Pharmacies Can Focus on Customer Service
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Higher customer satisfaction increases company success.

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Higher customer satisfaction increases company success.

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News By Profession

Pharmacy

Higher customer satisfaction increases company success

By Lindsey Nolen

Regardless of the type or number of medications that people are prescribed, chances are they pick up their scripts at a pharmacy of choice. Yet no matter which pharmacy a person chooses to use, it likely is utilized by many other patients, has varying hours of operation, accepts certain insurance policies and includes a variety of additional components that contribute to its reported rates of customer service. To ensure that customer satisfaction is optimized, pharmacies should constantly consider how to improve their services.

How Pharmacies Can Focus on Customer Service

Be Patient with Patients

Patients who arrive to seek medication from a pharmacy may already be sick or experiencing undesirable conditions that require treatment. For this reason, patients may be cranky and impatient as they enter pharmacies -- especially when long wait lines are present. To best accommodate these patients and their needs, pharmacists should develop strategic line and crowd control routes and listen carefully to each patient's needs. After waiting in line, all patients rightfully expect to have all of their questions answered thoroughly.

"Often, patients do not understand their medications or insurance plans and may have a lot of questions. Pharmacists should keep this in mind and display patience," said Joy Greene, PharmD, professor of pharmacy and assistant dean of experiential education at High Point University. "Going the extra mile to answer questions is a big part of serving others, and pharmacists should make it their goal to clear up any confusion a patient has about their medication. A pharmacist's job is to provide their expertise to patients to ensure medication safety, effectiveness and compliance."

Also in terms of going the extra mile, if a pharmacy does not offer a certain medication that a patient needs, or does not accept that person's insurance, the pharmacist should still make an attempt to help resolve the issue. A helpful resolution may be to find another pharmacy that does carry the medication, or to find an alternative medication capable of producing similar results. Patients will recognize the extra time spent assisting them, which will increase the probability of their return. 

Communicating with Concern

As with most places of business, possessing strong communication skills is critical. Pharmacists must be able to phrase medical-related terminology in a way that their patients can understand; otherwise patients may become both frustrated and confused.

"A pharmacist should avoid using medical jargon when talking with a patient about their medicine or health concerns. Pharmacists should seek to be good communicators who can not only explain things well, but also listen well. Seek first to understand, then to be understood," explained Greene.

Another important element of customer retention, pharmacists should always demonstrate that they care deeply about the general well-being of their patients. This includes maintaining a friendly, approachable attitude and providing all patients with the advice and guidance necessary to fully assist them.

Pharmacists who are able to openly display kindness, empathy and compassion will help make their patients feel comfortable and appreciated. Being concerned about the health and progress of all patients will also make otherwise challenging conversations, such as those about insurance policies that are not accepted, less difficult. Patients who feel as though they are genuinely cared for and appreciated tend to be more understanding of these potentially testing circumstances.

Develop Trust

Establishing a sense of trust within patients is another way a pharmacist can work to ensure customer satisfaction. Of utmost importance in an industry related to health and medication, patients must be certain that the services and products they receive are of the highest quality.

When working to develop trust and reliability, pharmacists should focus on maintaining a sense of integrity in combination with professionalism at all times. Exhibiting personal touches, like learning returning patients' names or asking them how they are doing upon each visit, can also help build positive and long-lasting relationships founded on trust.

After a healthy patient-pharmacist bond based on trust is established, asking for feedback can become another extremely advantageous tool. Inquiring about potentially inadequate areas of service, or about what a pharmacist could be doing better, allows patients to voice their input and further demonstrates a pharmacy's overall commitment to excellence.

Lindsey Nolen is a freelance writer.

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