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7 Holiday IVR Tips for Navigating the Year-End Rush at Your Pharmacy

Last updated Nov 20, 2023 | Digital Pharmacist Products, Pharmacy Management

The holiday season is upon us, and with this time of year comes an influx of pharmacy calls. As patients seek medication refills before they travel and inquire about vaccinations before their holiday gatherings, it’s crucial for pharmacies to optimize their Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems. A well-thought-out IVR menu and efficient call routing can significantly enhance the customer experience and streamline operations during the busy holiday period. In this blog post, we’ll explore essential tips to make sure your IVR systems are holiday-ready.

1) Update & Communicate Your Store Hours

First things first –  you will want to make sure to adjust store hours on your pharmacy’s IVR dashboard so patients are informed you are closed when they call in on a holiday.

You might even take it a step further and send out an automated alert to your patients reminding them you will be closed for the holiday so they can take care of any urgent needs beforehand. 

 2) Optimize Pharmacy Call Flow

Your pharmacy IVR menu can make or break your patient’s experience calling into the pharmacy. Arrange your menu options with your patients’ seasonal needs in mind by starting with crucial info like store hours and vaccination availability, and then smoothly transition to year-round options. Be sure to keep your menu prompts clear and concise guiding callers to the information they need without unnecessary navigation.

3) Include Emergency Information

The holiday season can be unpredictable, and emergencies may arise. Ensure that your IVR system includes clear instructions for patients facing urgent situations – especially when you are closed for longer periods of time than normal. Offer information on after-hours emergency services if that is available and be sure to guide them to call 9-11 in the case of a medical emergency. 

4)  Offer Self-Service Options

Your patients are likely as busy as your team is this season running around getting ready for the holidays and remembering to refill their prescriptions might fall through the cracks with everything else they are juggling this season.

Give them self-service ability with your IVR options so they can call in and request prescription refills at times convenient for them – even if your pharmacy is closed.  Not only does this ease your team’s workload, but it gives patients the ability to take care of these tasks at times that are most convenient for them.

5)  Personalize Your Holiday IVR Greetings 

Who says IVR messages have to sound like robots? Give your messages a personal touch by recording them in-house with a voice patients are familiar with. A “Happy Holidays!” greeting will go a lot farther from a warm, personable voice rather than an auto-generated greeting. If you do prefer a text-to-speech option to record your greetings, make sure it still sounds natural and inviting to give the patients calling into the pharmacy. 

6) Add Seasonal On Hold Music/ Messaging

‘Tis the season for cold, flu, and health inquiries of all kinds. Your phones are likely extra busy and it is inevitable that you will have to put a patient on hold every now and then this time of year.

Make the most of your on-hold greetings with some seasonal tunes that keep spirits bright while they are waiting. You can also use your IVR for on-hold messages for seasonal reminders, holiday marketing, or cross-promoting your pharmacy services. For example, you might want to remind them that the Medicare Open Enrollment deadline is quickly approaching or to come in for a flu shot before their holiday gatherings to keep themselves and their families healthy.

Quick Tip: Set yourself a reminder to change any holiday or seasonal messages down once they are no longer relevant to help keep your messaging up-to-date year-round. 

6)  Monitor Holiday Call Patterns

Take time to analyze data to identify peaks, FAQs, and trends from last year’s holiday season. Team members are going to want to take time off around the holidays, but not at the expense of their teammates. Looking at the numbers can help you staff your store accordingly and maybe even see where you can afford to shave pharmacy hours down during the holiday to give the whole team extra time to recharge.

In Conclusion

In the midst of the holiday whirlwind, your pharmacy’s IVR system has the ability to make your patient’s experience a bit merrier and keep spirits bright among your team members. Taking some time now to make sure your IVR menu and messaging us are up-to-date and optimized can save everyone so much time not only during the holidays but into the new year and beyond! ✨

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