by Julie Bonnell for our 99 Ways to Make a Positive Difference in Your Pharmacy blog series

In my visits to independent pharmacies, one thing that always stands out for me when I stop and talk to customers is the personal relationship they have with the pharmacist. When asked, “why do you come here?” the response almost always starts with a variation of “I’ve known Bob for years, in fact…” or “Melissa has taken care of my family…” This personal connection keeps them coming back.

So how do you build on that goodwill? The most important thing to recognize is they feel a personal connection to you. So look for ways to recognize them as people not just customers.  Here are a few ideas:

1) If you have any sort of loyalty program, review your records to create a list of customer names and birthdates. Perhaps cross reference with your script log to make sure you are only focused on current, repeat customers as this will make the list manageable. Then, either monthly or quarterly, schedule time to address birthday cards for the upcoming schedule time to address birthday cardsmonth. Write a quick note wishing them well for the coming year and thanking them for their business. In the world of automated personalization, taking the time for a human touch has great impact.

Don’t have a loyalty program? Consider starting one or check and see if your community has a small business loyalty program you can join. Many communities have started programs and by joining one you leverage the existing infrastructure, as well as have opportunities to be seen as part of a larger vibrant small business community.

2) Build your relationships with repeat customers by giving them a front-end product sample you have received. Ask them to try it and let you know what they thought of the item and whether you should stock it.

3) Last but not least, remind your staff to take a moment to greet a face they have seen before with “it’s good to see you again!” It’s such a simple thing but can have great impact. Knowing someone recognized them from a prior visit makes that person feel special.

Regardless of which idea you run with, or if you try something completely different, remember, a personal connection to the patient will set you apart as their preferred choice for their health and wellness needs.


Julie BonnellJulie is HRG’s Director of Operations and a member of the senior management team. She directs and guides our Client Services, Fulfillment, Category and Product Research & Analysis, Data Assets and Visual Assets teams. She also participates in business development activities and the product development strategies required to support them

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