Resolution: Identify my customers’ expectations and how to meet them

June 30, 2017By Focus on the Pharmacy Front End Blog, Independent Pharmacy, Resolutions for Independent Pharmacies

By Kathy Hagen, data assets specialist, for the Resolutions for Independent Pharmacies blog series

In thinking about how to identify customer expectations, I thought it best to first establish that expectations are different from needs. You can’t determine a customer’s needs until the customer is in your store. That’s when you’ll know if they need a prescription medication, an over-the-counter medicine, or just what they require. Your customers’ expectations about shopping at your store could cover a wide range of possibilities.

The good thing is that you can be proactive in creating a shopping experience that will meet and even exceed expectations. There are a few basic things you can do to create a pleasant environment. A well-lit and clean store may seem like common sense, but these can be easily overlooked, especially if you don’t make a point to “shop” your own store from time to time. Another essential of store upkeep is if you have bathrooms that are open to the public, they should always be clean.

Going a step further to the task of shopping itself, keeping your shelves well stocked should be a priority. Customers don’t want to be faced with limited choices or no options because the item they were looking for isn’t on the shelf.

I personally don’t enjoy shopping, so I don’t approach it with a positive attitude. There have been enough times that I’ve had difficulty finding a store associate to help me, or when I do, the associate is borderline rude. Train your staff to be welcoming and available to your shoppers. Customers that have had a bad experience can spread it quickly in this age of smart phones and social media.

To go a little deeper and learn about individual customer preferences, the best thing to do is ask! It can be as simple as approaching random customers while they are shopping to find out what their expectations are of your store. It’s a BIG advantage to be able to speak to them while they are in the store – make the most of the opportunity.Identify your customers expectations

Before you approach, take a few seconds to read the shopper’s body language. If their demeanor indicates that they are relaxed and in a good mood, tell them you’re collecting feedback and ask them if they would mind answering a few quick questions. Bring a pen and paper so you can jot down the good and the bad.

You should also train your staff to ask for feedback when they are ringing up a sale. There’s a restaurant my husband and I go to regularly and the manager always stops and asks us how our meals are. You can train your staff to ask a question or two at the checkout. It seems like every store nowadays asks whether you found everything alright, but for purposes of understanding your customers’ expectations, tweak that to ask, “How was your experience in the store today?” It’s not a yes or no question, thus you should gain some valuable feedback.

You may also try to conduct surveys via phone, email, your website, or social media sites to gather expectations from your customers. If you do choose to use one of those mediums, be sure to ask open-ended questions, like the example in the previous paragraph. In most instances, you can learn a lot more from these types of questions where you give the respondent the opportunity to provide their insights in their own words and with the ability to elaborate as much as they’d like.

Because expectations and needs aren’t the same thing, it’s important to always be aware of both. Always strive to meet or exceed expectations. Any time you or your staff have the opportunity, check in with your customers to find out how you’re doing at keeping them satisfied. You likely have opportunities every day – make the most of them!