Spread the Word (of Mouth)!

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Marketing takes on many forms and methods. Among the more effective and inexpensive forms of marketing is word of mouth (WOM). The recommendation of others is now an entire industry, wherein persons look for global ratings and individuals’ testimonies on services such as Yelp! and Tripadvisor. Direct, interpersonal WOM is powerful; a friend, colleague, or family member who knows your preferences and dislikes makes a recommendation for you to partake or avoid a particular good, service, or experience.

Hsu undertook a comprehensive evaluation of WOM for outpatient healthcare services.1 He investigated the relationships among service encounters, service value, patient satisfaction, and WOM intention from the viewpoint of interactive marketing.  The notion of value was conceptualized as involving a trade-off between what a customer gains from the service and what the customer offers to obtain it. In short, a customer is presumed to make a purchase decision on the basis of “value”, which also underlies the notion of “cost”. Data were collected using a questionnaire survey of outpatient clinic patients. The study proposed seven hypotheses, with all but one being at least partially supported. These were: hospital service personnel significantly and positively affect service value; hospital service personnel significantly and positively affect satisfaction; hospital facilities significantly and positively affect service value; hospital service value significantly and positively affects satisfaction; hospital service value positively affects WOM; and satisfaction with the hospital satisfaction positively affects WOM. In summary, they found that service encounters indirectly affect WOM through service value and satisfaction. Therefore, service value and satisfaction play a crucial role in linking service encounters and WOM. As has been discussed in other Tips, satisfaction came more into play when the patient was very highly, or extremely satisfied.

A business aims among other things to get the customer to recommend the business to others. That is often why you will see a question of this sort on many customer satisfaction surveys. A person is more likely to provide positive word of mouth when they have been highly satisfied (rather than merely satisfied) and especially when they perceive value. Think about how frequently someone mentions to you “it was such a good deal” or “it was so good for the money”. Pharmacy managers should aim to get customers/patients to perceive value and use WOM. It would appear as though the service encounter with the pharmacy’s staff is very critical for that to happen.

 Additional information about Marketing Applications and Customer Service in Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 5e. 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, 5e. If your institution does not provide access, ask your medical librarian about subscribing.

1Hsu LC. Investigating effect of service encounter, value, satisfaction, on word of mouth: An outpatient service context. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018;15(1):132. 

Shane Desselle

Professor of Social and Behavioral Pharmacy, Touro University California

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Shane Desselle about 1 month ago

How likely were you to see a movie, eat at a particular restaurant, or partake in s service because of a recommendation from someone you trust? This is very powerful!