Running a profitable business is as much about customer retention as it is about acquisition — if not more. As one study points out, it is five times as expensive to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. Consumer expectations continue to rise across sectors, including pharmacy, so investing time and money into creating great customer experiences is essential to cultivating loyalty. That said, keeping your pharmacy customers coming back is not exactly easy. If patient retention is a goal for your pharmacy this year (and it should be), here are four tactics to help improve customer engagement.
1. Focus on customer service
In a time when traditional pharmacies face increased competition, providing high levels of customer service goes a long way to retaining patients. Having a physical pharmacy location offers the advantage of building interpersonal relationships with patients, which can be a differentiating factor when it comes to choosing a pharmacy. Cultivating connections and trust with patients is particularly important if you’re an independent pharmacy choosing to opt out of participating in preferred networks this year. As this move may result in higher copays for some patients, setting yourself apart with impeccable service will be invaluable.
2. Invest in technology
A seamless pharmacy workflow is a huge part of ensuring you provide a positive experience for your patients. According to the 2019 Pharmacy Times Salary and Job Satisfaction Survey, 30% of pharmacists said that patient interactions contribute to their job satisfaction. However, 54% blamed heavy workloads for job dissatisfaction. If managing your pharmacy workflow has been a challenge, consider investing in technology to help simplify the process. Access the needs of your pharmacy to determine which tools would work best for you — whether it’s dispensing technology, workflow automation software (such as Amplicare), or digital health services. Investing in the right tools will also free up the time normally spent on administrative tasks so you’re able to consult and interact with patients.
3. Expand the clinical services you offer
One of the trends we predicted will grow this year is the continued expansion of the clinical services pharmacists provide. Many states in the U.S. classify pharmacists as providers, which gives Medicare patients access to clinical services pharmacists provide and reimburses pharmacists for providing this care. There are many areas where pharmacists already offer additional care services beyond prescriptions, including providing immunizations, drug therapy management, and opioid counseling. But research suggests that there is room for broader implementation as well as to educate patients about existing services. On average, patients visit the pharmacy 35 times a year compared to four visits to physicians. This provides an opportunity for you, as a pharmacist, to offer services that help cement your role as a key part of the healthcare team. Besides boosting patient retention, broadening services also helps you develop new profitable revenue streams for your pharmacy business.
4. Automate your communications
Automating communication is in line with investing in technology, but it’s worthy of its own point because communicating with patients is key to keeping them engaged. For example, automated phone calls and texts are used by many pharmacies as part of a refill reminder solution that helps patients stay adherent to their medications. In addition to this, they provide an easy way to keep your patients up-to-date on other relevant information related to their health or your pharmacy. Plus, the ability to add personal touches helps you provide the personalization that patients seek without having to manually make each call.