Providing good customer service is intricately tied to patient care and gives an organization a competitive advantage. Providing good customer service is sometimes easier said than done, especially in a busy pharmacy. It is challenging given that patients purchase pharmacy goods and services generally because they have to rather than want to. Pharmacy patrons are often experiencing illness and might not be in the best of moods, yet have high expectations for service.
Malewski et al examined various facets of customer service in suburban and urban community pharmacies.1 The facets they examined included counseling, patient perceptions of the relationship (with the pharmacist), patient/pharmacy interaction, advice given, and “overall service”, which included the degree to which the patron perceived that the pharmacist enjoyed their job. These things are all interrelated and further evince the strong relationship between good clinical care, counseling, and service-minded attempts to buoy patient satisfaction. Patients who believe that the pharmacist enjoys doing what they do and who attempt to enter a trusting relationship with the pharmacist are those likely to become HIGHLY satisfied, rather than just satisfied. And those who are highly satisfied are more likely to become loyal patrons and even spread positive word of mouth about the pharmacy. The study here found patients to be trusting of the pharmacist’s expertise and satisfied with the pharmacy’s hours and convenience but not quite as satisfied with assurance of privacy, the pharmacist attempting to develop a relationship with them, and the pharmacist being understanding. Patrons of suburban pharmacies in this study were more confident that the pharmacy provided the correct medication, that the pharmacy’s location was convenient, and that service was prompt. Meanwhile, patrons of urban pharmacies were more likely to seek the pharmacist’s advice.
There are various facets of customer service, many if not all of which are tied closely with effective clinical practice. Pharmacists need not conduct a publishable study to get a read on the expectations and satisfaction of patients, which can be done simply by asking, placing surveys in patients’ medication bags, or even small, informal focus groups.
Additional information about Customer Service 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.
1Malewski DF, Ream A, Gaither CA. Patient satisfaction with community pharmacy: Comparing urban and suburban chain-pharmacy populations. Res Social Adm Pharm. 2015;11:121-128.