October 8, 2014
Pharmacist Interaction Key to Having Satisfied
Pharmacy Customers

Westlake Village, CA—Whatever the business model, customers are more satisfied and likely to buy more if they have interaction with pharmacists, according to a new survey.

The J.D. Power 2014 U.S. Pharmacy Study found that overall satisfaction with chain drug stores (840 on a 1,000-point scale), supermarket (843), and mail order (822) pharmacies increased in 2014 by 12, 8, and 25 points, respectively. Satisfaction with mass merchandiser pharmacies (830) was similar compared to 2013.

Overall, according to J.D. Power, customer satisfaction remained much greater—a gap of about 25 points—with brick-and-mortar stores as opposed to mail order pharmacies.

Among all segments, however, satisfaction improved significantly when pharmacists explained the potential side effects of medication as well as offered information on costs and savings. In addition, customers who interacted with pharmacists generally spent more in the drugstore.

“For brick and mortar pharmacies, ensuring pharmacists are directly interacting with customers is one of the keys to delivering a satisfactory experience. For mail order pharmacies, it's critical that customers have easy access to a pharmacist through such channels as a phone number that is easy to access and online chat,” said Rick Johnson, director of the healthcare practice at J.D. Power.

“However, only 1 in 25 customers initiate a conversation with a pharmacist in a brick and mortar store, so it's essential for staff to ask customers if they would like to speak with a pharmacist. In the mail order segment, just 1 in 10 customers interact with a pharmacist, and satisfaction is high among those who use the chat feature.”

Satisfaction was highest in pharmacies where customers:

• Collaborated with the pharmacist to help ensure that they did not miss a dose of their medications, particularly those with a 30-day supply. Across pharmacy segments, the percentage of customers who report running out of medication before they can refill it is 13% for chain drug stores; 14% for supermarket pharmacies; 15% for mass merchandisers; and 10% for mail order pharmacies.

• Benefitted from the pharmacist providing a detailed explanation of risks and side effects of their medications, both in writing and verbally. Brick-and-mortar stores meet that key performance indicator 33% of the time.

• Had access to an in-store clinic or wellness center. Offering that kind of service increased satisfaction with brick-and-mortar pharmacies by 42 points. It also increased the likelihood that customers will say they “strongly agree” that they are loyal to their pharmacy by 6% and led to a larger basket of goods purchased in the store by 8%.

Additional store purchases also were fueled by customer interaction with a pharmacist. Among customers who spoke directly with a pharmacist in a chain drug store, 29% purchased an OTC medication and 59% purchased an additional nonpharmaceutical product to go with their prescription. More than a fifth (21%) of customers indicated that the pharmacist was responding to a cost-related question.

J.D. Power reported that satisfaction with pharmacists is highest in chain drug stores (883), followed by the supermarket (877) and mass merchandiser (864) segments. Satisfaction with nonpharmacist staff is highest among supermarket pharmacies (847), followed by chain drug store (841) and mass merchandiser (820) pharmacies, according to the survey.

Top rated in the chain drugstore segment was Good Neighbor Pharmacy (884), with Sam’s Club (865) highest in the mass merchandiser segment and Publix (886) leading the supermarket segment. Kaiser Permanente Mail Pharmacy (865) got the highest score among mail-order pharmacies.

The 2014 U.S. Pharmacy Study is based on responses from 13,951 pharmacy customers who filled a new prescription or refilled a prescription during the 3 months prior to the survey period.

Customer satisfaction with brick-and-mortar pharmacies is measured across five factors: prescription ordering; store; cost competitiveness; nonpharmacist staff; and pharmacist. Satisfaction with mail-order pharmacies is measured across four factors: cost competitiveness; prescription delivery; prescription ordering process; and customer service experience.

This year’s study, which is in its seventh year, was conducted between June and July 2014.

U.S. Pharmacist Social Connect