Higher Expectations at Pharmacies

Customers are expecting more from the pharmacist and staff, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2011 U.S. National Pharmacy Study. And overall they are least satisfied with mass merchandiser pharmacies and most satisfied with supermarket pharmacies.

For instance, on a 1,000-point scale, satisfaction drops from 836 for customers who wait less than three minutes to give their information to staff to 783 among those who wait more than three minutes. In 2010, wait time before a significant decrease in satisfaction was up at seven minutes.

“Customers are expecting more from their brick and mortar pharmacy — not just in terms of wait time, but also in terms of contact with the pharmacist and pharmacy staff,” Rick Millard, senior director of the healthcare practice at J.D. Power and Associates, said in a statement. “In fact, brick and mortar pharmacies are able to better differentiate themselves by offering additional services from the pharmacy staff. These personal contacts may help distinguish the store experience as satisfying for pharmacy customers.”

The study measures customer satisfaction with pharmacies in brick and mortar and mail-order segments, each of which has its own factors to determine satisfaction. In the brick and mortar segment — including chain drug stores, supermarkets and mass merchandisers — there are five factors: prescription ordering and pick-up process; store; cost competitiveness; non-pharmacist staff; and pharmacist. The mail-order segment has four factors: cost competitiveness; prescription delivery; prescription ordering; and customer service.

Satisfaction for mail-order pharmacies had declined from the previous year. According to the survey, the factors with the primary decreases in satisfaction were prescription ordering and prescription delivery.

“In an era when online retailers like Amazon and Zappos have set new standards for speed and convenience, customers are looking for more efficiency in their pharmacy transactions, as well,” Millard said. “There’s a clear opportunity for mail-order pharmacies to improve on the logistical aspects of the transaction.”