Trust in pharmacists is the key to customer loyalty
Paying special attention to the operational and financial success of the pharmacy should not come at the expense of the quality of patient care.
As pharmacy continues to evolve towards a more patient-centered practice, we must not lose sight of the fact that pharmacy is a business, as is medicine and other health professions. If the pharmacy is forced to close due to mismanagement, it will obviously never offer patient-centered services again.
Paying special attention to the operational and financial success of the pharmacy should not come at the expense of the quality of patient care. In fact, the best pharmacists are those who know how to merge the business and clinical aspects of practice. A successful business depends on the loyalty of customers and patients. Simply put, loyalty refers to a series of actions that promote the intention of customers to have a relationship with a particular company. Loyalty transcends patronage and encompasses the desire to engage with that store (or even that person, such as a technician or pharmacist), spread positive word of mouth, and continue to visit that store even if a meeting or a visit. particular transaction is less than optimal or if a competitor offers a good or service at a reduced price. As such, customer loyalty is not born out of simple satisfaction, but out of extreme satisfaction and positive confirmation of expectations.
Castaldo et al. examined the use of various marketing strategies deployed by community pharmacies to retain stores.1 This study involved the analysis of responses to 735 questionnaires collected by telephone from patients at several community pharmacies, with elements related to potential determinants of loyalty that were derived from previous literature and qualitative data. The results of the study revealed the importance of relationships. The study also found that factors such as modern pharmacy layouts, display of merchandise, and an enjoyable shopping experience (which the researchers said would play an important role in patient retention) n ‘were in fact not significant determinants of customer loyalty. The development of relationships fuels the formation of trust. A person is more likely to develop feelings of loyalty to someone or even something they trust, thus lessening the temptation to move their patronage elsewhere. That being said, there were indeed other aspects of the store that boosted loyalty, such as creating a warm environment and the availability of a wide variety of items for sale that help them meet their needs. or help solve their own health problems.
Pharmacies and pharmacy managers must balance the difference between providing services that simply facilitate satisfaction and those that breed loyalty. Clear, caring, and genuine communication with patients, in addition to kind gestures such as learning a patient’s name, can help stimulate the development of bonds that lead to trusting relationships. This does not preclude the need to stay on top of operational aspects and ensure that patient needs are met. This ensures the integrity of supply chains and control of items in stock. Trust is eroded when a business or store is continually unable to meet the needs of patients, especially those who are endemic to the customers you serve. Loyal customers will keep coming back to your store and might be healthier and happier as a result.
Additional information on Merchandising and value creation and management can be found in Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 5e.
Sina Hosseini is a PharmD candidate at the University of Touro in California.
Shane P. Desselle, PhD, is professor of social and behavioral pharmacy at the University of Touro in California.
1. Castaldo S, Grosso M, Mallarini E, Rindone M. The missing path to customer loyalty in retail pharmacy: the role of the store in the development of satisfaction and trust. Res Social Adm Pharm. 2016; 12 (5): 699-712.