There is no doubt that 2020 has brought unprecedented circumstances to the world around us. In fact, the demand for a quick and convenient pharmacy experience has never been higher. With the rise of large-scale retail pharmacies like CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid, many patients do not feel like their needs are being properly met. For most of these bigger pharmacies, providing their patients with personalized care and service is secondary to their financial metrics. This lack of concern has many of their patients looking elsewhere to get their prescriptions filled. As such, small localized pharmacies that specialize in providing personalized customer service can attract new patients with the proper tools and resources.
Below, we discuss some pharmacy business best practices that will help you stand out from the national chains.
These best practices include:
- Customizing the pharmacy experience
- Becoming an expert
- Getting online
- Adopting new technologies
- Creating a unique brand
- Giving back
Customizing the Pharmacy Experience
When it comes to attracting new patients, it’s important to understand why a patient would consider leaving their current pharmacy in the first place. These potential patients might want a pharmacy experience that offers them more personalized care, or they simply might want a pharmacy that offers prescription delivery. Whatever their reasoning might be, it’s vital to distinguish your pharmacy from the national chains by showcasing your ability to give patients a unique experience that they can’t get anywhere else.
As patients shop around for a new pharmacy, they’re usually looking for an experience that is tailored to their needs. Independent pharmacies can devote more time to individual interactions, building relationships with their patients (greeting them by name when they step up to the counter), and finding out what is best for each person that walks through their doors. This type of customer service is nowhere to be found in the big chain pharmacies, making it easier for independent pharmacies to use these items to differentiate their brand. As long as you feature your superior customer experience in your store, convincing new patients to transfer to your pharmacy should be effortless.
Becoming an Expert
One of the most important business best practices a pharmacy can implement is to tout your own expertise. Patients want to connect with a pharmacist who they know is practicing at the top of their license. They want to build a relationship with their pharmacist who can give them the medical recommendations and instructions that personally suits them. Too many times patients have been buried in the stack by the larger chain pharmacies, as the lack of expertise or care has been lost to them.
Building your patients’ trust by showcasing your own depth of knowledge and expertise, by highlighting your ability to truly care about each individual that steps into your store or does business with your pharmacy will propel your company forward. People are leaving reviews online and others are using those reviews to determine whether or not to do business with a particular company. If you let your expertise be known, word will travel quickly and the number of new customers you have will increase.
Regardless of where you’re located or the demographics of your customers, if your business isn’t online, you will only ever reach the people who already know about you. Business best practices state that having a website is as important as having a sign for your storefront.
In addition to having a website, it’s important to control the narrative of your brand by being where your potential customers are. Using social media and other online platforms such as Google or Yelp is commonplace for people who are interested in finding a business near them offering the services they are looking for. Your potential customers do not want to visit a place of business that has a poor online reputation (or no reputation), making it very important for local pharmacies to monitor any digital correspondence from patients.
Pharmacies can use these online reviews and comments as tools to improve their pharmacy experience. Any feedback given through these online platforms is essential for your pharmacy’s growth, positive or negative, and it can help you understand how your patients are feeling about their experiences in your pharmacy.
Adopting New Technologies
Another pharmacy business best practice that is important to adopt revolves around implementing new technologies as they become available. Patients want an experience that is convenient and quick for them. Something as simple as adding a mobile app to the ways your customers can interact with you can make a big difference in terms of customer acquisition.
Other technologies to consider are chatbots, call tracking, artificial intelligence, and pharmacy automation. Even if implementing these tools are not feasible at the moment, learning about them and building their adoption into your future business plans will ensure you’re always looking ahead to how to improve your pharmacy.
Creating a Unique Brand
Your brand is more than choosing a few colors and creating a logo. Your brand is what your company stands for, what value you bring to your customers, and what things you do that no one else does. Simon Sinek gave a fantastic TED Talk a few years ago based on his book Start With Why. Creating a unique and powerful brand doesn’t start with what you do, it starts with why you do it. The better you can define why you do what you do, the more likely new customers are going to be drawn to you and more likely existing customers will stay with you.
As a pharmacy, helping people is part of the job, and giving back to the community is such a vital part to being a community pharmacy. Some ways you can give back to your town are as follows.
- Volunteer for events in your area
- Educate your community on health issues
- Donate to local charities or nonprofits
- Host/organize events in your pharmacy
Giving back will not only help spread awareness of your pharmacy, but it can also positively impact the people around you in the process.
It would be foolish to think that the national chain pharmacies are going to disappear anytime soon or lose their momentum, but that’s why it’s absolutely critical to set your pharmacy apart from the rest of the competition. With the number of patients from these national chains continuously leaving dissatisfied, your pharmacy — with the right tools, resources and mindset — could be the perfect place for them to transfer to.