Ever find yourself asking why your pharmacy can’t quite keep repeat customers? Why people are opting for the competition down the street? Was it something you said? Or, rather, was it how you said it?
All of these factors and so much more make up the essence of customer relationship management, a vital tool in helping prolong your independent pharmacy’s success.
One of the most basic ways to ensure your business remains up and running is to develop a relationship between you and the customer: handling their medications, being the mediator between them and their doctor, and fielding all questions and concerns they may have about a new medication.
It’s a job of immense responsibility and it’s essential to have the proper tools — verbally and software-wise — to ensure your customers that they are in good hands.
Customer relationship management tools work to empower both client and consumer, creating a unique, personalized experience for people with equally unique medicinal needs.
What is Customer Relationship Management?
Customer relationship management is defined as “the combination of practices, strategies, and technologies that companies use to manage and analyze customer interactions and data throughout the customer life cycle.”
It aims to improve customer service relationships and assure customer retention. In short, it serves to improve and maintain sales while creating customer loyalty.
A common misconception about customer relationship management is that it’s a synonym for customer service.
Though not entirely wrong, “customer service” barely scratches the surface of what customer relationship management truly entrails. There’s certainly an element of customer service: you and the rest of the pharmacy staff give customers their medicine in a safe, ethical manner. It’s an in-the-moment, finite interaction.
However, customer relationship management goes beyond that experience by looking at the aftermath of your interaction.
The relationship goes beyond the swiping of a credit card or processing an insurance claim: it’s about knowing the customer’s specific medical needs and ensuring they have the necessary tools to live a healthier lifestyle.
It’s about making them feel heard and informing them of what exactly they’re taking. It’s making sure they’re taking their medications as prescribed (adherence).
Benefits of Customer Relationship Management
Repeat customers build a loyal customer base. It’s no secret that a loyal customer base will help your independent pharmacy stay afloat.
Going beyond what’s expected and going that extra mile will encourage customers to keep their business with you and to tell others about you, too.
Word of mouth can make or break an independent pharmacy. Word often travels quickly through a community. You’ll want to make sure the word on the street is a glowing endorsement of your services and not a condemnation for not having a drug in stock.
Positive word of mouth is essentially free marketing and publicity for your independent pharmacy where your exceptional services and treatments of the customer are the labor cost. Do your job well and people will come, simple as that.
If a customer is comfortable coming to you to fill medications that will literally save their lives, it makes sense that you should be familiar with them.
Through customer relationship management tools, you can have the foresight to fulfill their needs in a more efficient and timely manner.
Does this patient require brand or generic? Are we able to fill a 90-day supply as they usually request? Do we have their — or the insurance’s — preferred manufacturer? Are their other medications filled now so they can pick them up at once and not make more possibly inconvenient trips to the pharmacy?
Doing these things may take more time than a standard fill, but will undoubtedly go a long way in earning the patient’s trust and loyalty.
Catering to these ultra-specific needs will also make you think on your feet quicker and deliver personalized service at a brisk pace, making even the most impatient customers satisfied.
The Software is Always Right
Your pharmacy software system is your right-hand man in countless ways. As a pharmacy manager, you will hopefully have chosen software that fulfills and caters to your specific vision.
While your pharmacy software may do a stellar job on the clinical side, it also needs to help on the customer side of things.
A patient profile should be a comprehensive snapshot of the customer: their basic information, their current medications, and up-to-date dosages with their doctor’s contact information easily accessible at a moment’s notice.
Your software should also leave room for personalization, allowing you to leave specific notes about the patient that will make subsequent fills more streamlined and efficient. Those notes can also give new techs or floater pharmacists foresight on how to handle certain situations.
Having prior knowledge on how to interact with your customers naturally deescalates any potential conflict between you and them. You’ll know what they want/need before they even know to request a refill.
Efficiency is the name of the game, and pharmacy software that knows what that entails will do wonders for your bottom line.
Marketing Towards a Better Customer Relationship
Separate from your pharmacy software system, there is specific software dedicated to customer relationship management.
These programs serve to make sense of current market trends, your pharmacy’s foot traffic, and which modes of marketing will effectively reach the most eyes.
It goes a step beyond customer surveys and makes clear reports on what’s working in your pharmacy and what needs some fine-tuning. They’ll take a look at the customer journey — how your clients feel and do when interacting with your brand.
It’s that brand that is dependent on customer satisfaction, so having a customer relationship management system or software helps you level the playing field.
Some of the most well-known pharmacy-centered customer relationship management systems include:
Knowing how to effectively help your customers — and how to keep them — will make your independent pharmacy stand above the rest.
With the help of customer relationship management tools, your pharmacy can provide quality, unique service to those who need it — and all patients need it.
Be open to feedback and adaptable to change, and your pharmacy will become a healthcare staple of the community.