As an independent pharmacy owner, what sets your pharmacy apart from your competition more than anything else is customer service.
When customers visit your store, the service that they receive will ultimately be a primary driving factor in how they feel about their experience as well as how likely they are to return and to recommend your pharmacy to their friends. For a matter of such high importance, training your staff well in the area of customer service is a worthy investment in your business.
Fortunately, customer service skills can be taught. With the cost of hiring new employees reaching into the thousands each time that your business needs to replace one of your staff members, retaining your team with appropriate training can save your business a pretty penny. Instead of spending money on recruiting applicants, new employee background checks, onboarding, and employee referral fees, when you focus on training your current staff you can build employee loyalty, increase morale, and save money while improving the overall customer experience for your clientele.
Let’s look at a few customer service trainings ideas that you may want to consider with your pharmacy staff:
1. Step into your customer’s shoes through role play.
Role playing can build empathy, and empathy is an invaluable customer service skill. When your staff can see the world through the customer’s eyes, it provides them with better insights – and empathy – for dealing with those who may be sick, scared and/or stressed. Provide them with examples of real-life types of situations and have them act as the customer and then also in their own role. Use this opportunity to train your staff on how to use positive language with each interaction to reframe problems as opportunities and provide excellent service to their customers.
2. Encourage collaboration across your staff.
Customers may interact with any combination of your team of pharmacists, technicians, retail staff and others within your business when they visit your store. When each department works together to provide optimal customer care and service, the full customer experience can be dramatically improved as well.
3. Teach your staff how to utilize stress reducing techniques.
It may sound simple, but taking a deep, cleansing breath, encouraging mindfulness and overall wellness can make a huge difference in how your staff manages their own stress. And as their leader, learn to take a deep breath yourself – and coach your management team to identify opportunities to break the stress appropriately with short breaks or a group stretch moment. The team will be better equipped to engage in high-stress customer situations with a positive perspective and problem-solving attitude.
4. It’s all about how you recover …
Nobody is perfect, and customers will sometimes have a bad interaction with one of your team. By recognizing situations that might not have been addressed ideally the first time and acknowledging a need to improve, you may be able to win back the trust of that customer. Humility and a desire to improve going forward can go a long way toward building an even stronger customer relationship and increasing customer loyalty.
So, what are the top customer service needs to focus on in your pharmacy?
1. Preparing customer’s prescriptions on time. This is a make-or-break customer service situation for many customers. They expect that when they submit their prescription and you quote their pick-up time that you have already confirmed that the prescription is in stock, that insurance clearance has been completed, and that you have all other necessary information from them in order to complete and fill their prescription prior to their arrival.
2. Establishing a good working relationship with local doctors. When you have a strong rapport with the doctors in your community, they are more likely to respond to your calls quickly when you have questions or need to address a concern regarding one of your customers and their patient’s prescriptions. By eliminating any delays in this regard, you are ensuring your pharmacy’s ability to provide the service that your customers expect.
3. Going the extra mile to serve your customers. This doesn’t have to be elaborate, but taking the time to follow up with insurance and addressing questions and concerns for the customer demonstrates you care for them as individuals. This is important and can mean the world to a customer. These efforts don’t cost a thing, but by showing care and concern for your customers, you might just earn a customer’s business for life by winning them over with solid service.
Where can you find help to train your staff?
There are many resources at a variety of price points, including consulting companies, self-study video courses and more. There are also sources for free training programs and resources through places like your public library. Not all courses will be a fit for your team, so do your research to see what is the best fit for your needs.
As you work with your team to strengthen your pharmacy’s customer experience and offer a higher level of service to each customer, discuss with your advisors any additional areas that your business might address in order to provide top notch service each and every time they visit your pharmacy.
And don’t overlook the basics when training your team. If your team is more comfortable texting than talking on a phone, something as simple as basic phone skills can help improve the service for your customers when they call.