A loyal customer is one to be highly treasured. Loyal customers view themselves as having some sort of mutually beneficial exchange, even a bond with the organization they patronize. Rather than merely being satisfied with the business, loyal customers are likely very or extremely satisfied. They will often overlook a small service mistake in the short-run, may extend their shopping to varied goods and services that they could easily find elsewhere perhaps at a lower price, and are likely to recommend the business to their relatives, friends, and peers.
A past Tip discussed distinctive competencies in community pharmacy. In this Tip, we provide the results of a study by Castaldo et al, who constructed a social model of customer loyalty for community pharmacies.1 In this model, store environment (layout/merchandising, cleanliness, comfort), assortment of goods (array of goods offered, their quality), and communication (reliable, clear, complete) factors all accurately predicted satisfaction with the store, itself. Satisfaction along with trust in the pharmacist (inspiring trust and providing good advice on OTCs) together resulted in trust in the entire store (the pharmacy keeps its promises). Trust in the entire store then resulted in intentional loyalty. Finally, intentional loyalty actually resulted in greater customer expenditures at that store as measured through “share of wallet”, or the proportion of a consumer’s budget spent at that store. Many of these relationships were predicted, but in addition to these, it was observed that trust in the pharmacist not only promotes trust in the store, but also engenders consumer satisfaction with their entire experience; thus, trust in the pharmacist has both a direct and an indirect effect on store loyalty.
Preventing major service errors will keep most patients at least relatively satisfied, but engendering LOYALTY takes a bit more effort. Doing so requires a constellation of factors including the basic look and feel of a store. The trust a patient places in the pharmacist, which is derived from providing good advice and “inspiring” those patients, will go a long way toward creating loyalty, and the meaning of such loyalty greatly transcends the norm of a patient merely being relatively satisfied.
Additional information about Customer Service, Merchandising, Organizational Structure and Behavior, and Applications in Independent Community Pharmacy can be found in Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 4e. If you or your institution subscribes to AccessPharmacy, use or create your MyAccess Profile to sign-in to Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 4e. If your institution does not provide access, ask your medical librarian about subscribing.
1Castaldo S, Grasso M, Mallarini E, Rindone M. The missing path to gain customer loyalty in retail pharmacy: The role of the store in developing satisfaction and trust. Res Social Adm Pharm. 2016;12:699-712.