There is no doubt that pharmacy is a service business. As independents, our relationship with our patients is our most valuable asset. Yet no matter how hard we try, sometimes our patients have problems. Perhaps they need a prior authorization, or their doctor needs to be called for refills. Or maybe there is a store problem that becomes the patient’s problem such as an out of stock item or not having a full amount to fill their prescription. We see these types of things as routine and no big deal but to an elderly patient it may be frightening to hear “you are out of refills on your prescription”. They may think they are not going to receive their medicine and panic sets in. That leads to the first tip for great customer service.
Never start an interaction with a patient by telling them they have a problem, always start with a reassurance.
For instance, we do not want to say “Mrs. Jones you have no refills today” but instead say something like “Mrs. Jones we will have to do a little extra for you today but we are going to be sure you get your medicine”. Then you can tell her she is out of refills.
That leads to the second tip for great customer service-
Never tell a patient about a problem unless you give them the solution
A continuation of our conversation with Mrs. Jones might go something like this, “You are out of refills today so we are going to call your doctor for you and as soon as we hear back we will let you know. And don’t worry if you can’t make it back, we will deliver it for you.”
Here is one last tip for great service
Do your best to never let a patient walk into the store only to find out for the first time they have a problem.
This is how little issues become big issues. Sometimes patients travel a good distance to get to your store or perhaps they rely on family to bring them. Can you imagine their frustration when they arrive only to hear they will not be receiving their prescription today? Always do whatever you can to make a call or a text to let the patient know you are resolving a problem and will let them know when the prescription is ready. If they are out of the medicine offer to loan them a few until the problem is solved. Likewise, if a patient is waiting in the store or drive thru, do not make them wait their turn to hear about a problem. Let them know as soon as it arises.
Make sure to train your staff with these simple tips. You will be amazed at how much it improves your interaction with the patients and how it keeps small problems from becoming big problems.