by Tom Boyer for the Lasting Impressions blog series

Perhaps the one element that can have the most impact in leaving an impression with any given customer is how they are treated by you and your staff. Because this is an area where independent pharmacies tend to excel, there may not be a lot that you’re missing in this regard, but it never hurts to be reminded of some of the simple things you can do on a daily basis to make sure your customer service level remains top-notch.

I touched on this in an earlier post and we’ve written about this for our 99 Ways series, but making sure you greet your customers when they enter your store is very important. They should be greeted within 10 seconds of entering. Acknowledging their presence with a friendly hello is an instant way to make them feel welcome. Recognize that in some cases, patients are coming in because they are ill or recently had surgery, thus a “healthy” greeting and sincere interest in their well-being will go a long way.

Staff should also be visible and within 10 feet so a customer can request help or ask a question without searching for someone to assist them or shouting across the store. You or your associates can ask shoppers if there is something you can assist them with, but do train your staff to be considerate and sensitive to those patients that may appreciate discretion (such as this shopper).

Since your counsel is likely a main reason customers prefer your store, try to be aware of where customers are in your front-end so you can be available to give them the benefit of your expertise. This is where you have the advantage over chains – being able to more freely engage one-on-one with your patients.engage one-on-one with your patients

Finally, don’t underestimate the final engagement with a customer in-store – whether it’s at the point of purchase or if someone is leaving with their need unmet, you want that parting interaction to leave the shopper satisfied with their overall experience. How can you make sure they are satisfied if they didn’t find what they were looking for? Hopefully you were able to offer an alternative, order what they wanted, or at least leave them with the impression that you did your best to meet their demand and told them you hope you can help them with their other healthcare needs.

If the last interaction is a sale, how is the engagement at the point of purchase? What is the associate’s disposition? How do they close the sale? With this being the final touchpoint, make sure they thank every customer and offer a kind last sentiment, such as “Enjoy your day!” I know I appreciate it when an associate makes it personal, saying, “Thank you, Tom.”

You and your staff can have the biggest impact on the perception of your store. Your friendliness, availability, and sincere interest in helping customers feel better makes a great difference over a large store where they aren’t recognized or paid any special attention. This requires little effort, no money, and can offer a big return.

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