Why a Personal Connection with Your Pharmacist is Important for Customer Service

To someone on the outside of the healthcare industry, all pharmacies look the same, however if you’re on the inside, you know how different pharmacies can be. Retail pharmacies are not the same as hospital or long term care facility pharmacies. The needs and structures are different, and so is the relationship between pharmacy and customer.

Though there is much variability, there is one thing that long term care pharmacy vendors should learn from the retail pharmacies: personalized customer service. Many vendors just don’t have that personalized touch that older independent pharmacies used to have.


Big Box Store Pharmacies

Many Long Term Care pharmacy vendors try to offer a one-size-fits-all solution to facilities. If your facility meshes with their model, that’s great. However, how often does that happen in practice? Think about the last time you switched vendors. How long did it take you to work out all the communications issues and the medication protocols? Did your staff have to learn how to call in an order all over again?

These “big box store” pharmacies can harm more than they can help. If you’d like to change this model, here are two suggestions for improving your customer service.


Dedicated staff

The first thing is that the people taking the orders from the facility should be the same people who fill the orders. This keeps communication errors down. The order takers should be deeply familiar with every aspect of the order fulfillment process, and be empowered to fix any problems that they encounter.

Also, each facility should get a dedicated group of staff. That way, your facility will quickly learn who they need to talk to in case of an emergency. If you currently have to hop through a phone tree or a long line of people to get your question answered, you may be dealing with a pharmacy that is too large to give you personalized customer service.


Regular audits

The only way to truly know what a customer needs is to ask them directly. Send representatives out every 2-3 weeks to your facilities as auditors to find out what is happening. Talk with the nurses and staff to find out how everything is working, check the pharmacy dispensing systems, and to talk about any upcoming changes at the pharmacy. By having regular communication with everyone, problems can be nipped in the bud, and suggestions can be taken from the nurses.

By bringing in a retail pharmacy mindset to long term care facilities, vendors can differentiate themselves in a way that larger big box store pharmacies cannot.