Improve your patient retention and keep patients coming back with these tips.
Pharmacies have a unique opportunity to form relationships with their customers and patients that can last for years. However, many pharmacies lose these valuable customers by not employing the right retention strategies. In this blog post, we will discuss some of the best ways to keep patients coming back for years to come!
Here are 7 tips to help you improve patient retention and keep patients coming back to your pharmacy.
1. Develop a rapport with your customers.
One of the best ways to keep customers coming back is to develop a rapport with them. Get to know them on a personal level and let them get to know you. This way, they love coming to your pharmacy and can’t imagine going anywhere else.
Ensure your front-end staff makes a point to learn your patients’ names and something about them. I recommend you keep a calendar or notebook in the cashier area so employees can document tidbits they learn about your patients. Employees can keep track of when Mrs. Smith is leaving on vacation or when another patient’s daughter is having graduation. Knowing this information allows them to have personal, relevant conversations. This personal touch will go a long way in making your pharmacy their preferred choice. This is one reason I tend to pay more for cashiers than the typical pharmacy. Having exceptional employees interacting with your patients the most is always a good thing.
2. Always Make Them Feel Valued
When customers come into your pharmacy, make sure they always feel valued. Greet them with a genuine smile and interest in their day. Treat each patient like they are your only customer of the day. No matter how hectic your day is, your customers shouldn’t be negatively impacted.
Tell them thank you, often. Thanking customers can seem repetitive to your employees, but that is not the way your customers see it. Your patients want to know you value them as a customer. You can get creative with a Thank You Card program or hold customer appreciation days/events.
Another great way to ensure customers feel valued is to ask for their feedback. Actively encouraging customers to provide feedback, both positive and negative, shows that you value their opinion and you are always looking to improve the customer experience.
3. Solve Their Unknown Problems
Surprise and delight is a popular business strategy to increase customer retention through a loyalty program (which we will get to next). As a pharmacy, you can bring this to fruition by predicting the future. Your uncanny ability to understand your patients’ needs will surely keep them coming back for more. How are you predicting the future? With your knowledge of medications and conditions and the side effects they cause.
If a patient is picking up an antibiotic, you know stomach issues are around the corner. Or if a mom is getting medication for a virus, you know a fever is coming up. Offer patients solutions to these problems before they even realize it is a problem. Talk to them about the downsides of the medication or their condition and offer a solution. Even if they don’t buy from you this time, they will know that you took the time to educate them and they will be more likely to buy from you the next time.
4. Create a loyalty program
You can also offer loyalty programs that give customers rewards for their continued business. This will show that you appreciate their patronage and want to give them something back.
Loyalty programs are a great way to keep patients coming back, as it makes a patient feel like they get something for nothing. I have used the loyalty program from Repeat Rewards in my pharmacies. You can set up the rules for point accumulation and redeeming qualifications. I would recommend checking out Axe Rx’s loyalty and pricing programs.
You also don’t have to use any fancy software or systems. Special discount days are always welcomed by patients. At my original pharmacy, we also did seasonal events. We had very hot summers. So, we kept free bottles of water outside of the pharmacy with some quirky signs to let patients know we love them and care about them.
Another loyalty idea we used is giving out free balloons to kids. We had a helium tank onsite and always had balloons ready to go when a little patient came in. Those kids became very loyal!
5. Offer unique products and services
You cannot compete with Walmart or Amazon. In fact, you are in a completely different business than they are. They are in the business of turning everything into a commodity. You want and need to be different. People will flock from all over to experience a ‘Purple Cow’. Your success is not hinging on how many band-aids you can sell. It will be dependent on offering the products and services your community wants.
It helps to offer products and services you are passionate about. If diabetes doesn’t get you excited then don’t do it! However, if adrenal fatigue is your jam, then shout from the rooftops and create a program to boost your patients’ energy with your knowledge.
Create A Bundle
You can turn a product (such as a supplement) into something unique by layering on services and additional products. Instead of just selling a weight loss supplement, offer a complete package. You could easily add on:
- Weekly group zoom calls
- Monthly measurement tracking
- Local eating out guide
- Discount on Rxs for weight loss
- Pairing with an accountability partner
When you bundle your supplement(s) with these services, now you have a unique combination that is ONLY provided by you. This uniqueness allows you to charge more than you would for just the supplement and helps your patients be more successful too.
6. Make it easy to do business with you
Keep patients coming back by offering convenience. This might mean you offer a delivery service or a phone app for refills. A great way to find out what convenience factors your patients want is to ask them. Surveys can be a great tool to determine if they want you to close at 6:30 instead of 6 pm.
A place where many independent pharmacies are lacking is your website. You are a busy pharmacy owner, not a digital marketing specialist. When is the last time you looked at your website with fresh eyes?
- Is your phone number and hours prominently displayed?
- Can patients submit refills online at any time?
- Are your most popular supplements available for purchase online?
- Can someone fill out new patient forms online?
If you make it easy for them, you will keep patients coming back.
7. Keep your promises
If you say you’re going to do something, make sure you follow through. This goes for both big and small things.
For example, if you tell a customer you will check to see if you can order a certain OTC, make sure the employee checks and calls the customer back.
Or if you say you will give a patient a call when their prescription is ready, make sure you do it.
It’s the little things that matter, and if you keep your promises, customers will be more likely to trust you and come back.
Consistency creates loyalty. I learned this early in my pharmacy ownership career. Consumers crave predictability, even if it isn’t the best. Here’s a little scenario for you. Which pharmacy are patients most likely to return to?
- A pharmacy that is sometimes fantastic and sometimes terrible.
- A pharmacy that consistently has poor service and long wait times.
Our logic says they would go to #1. You would be wrong. Consumer psychology proves that the typical consumer will pick #2 because they know what to expect and can plan around it, even if it is bad service. I bet if you think of past restaurant experiences you will find that you made similar decisions. I know I have.
It Takes A Village
To keep patients coming back you need to focus on their needs and wants. Empower your employees to go above and beyond when possible and ensure they always follow through. These are just a few tips on how to keep pharmacy customers coming back. By following these tips, you can create a loyal customer base that will keep patients coming back for years to come.
If you need any support on improving your pharmacy’s profitability, please reach out to the DiversifyRx team at firstname.lastname@example.org or join our free Facebook Group. We also offer Pharmacy Badass University if you are ready to dramatically improve your profits.