During uncertain times, communicate!
When in a crisis, communicate with customers.
- Because of COVID-19, many patients are scared, anxious and uncertain
- Even when juggling lots of responsibilities, during times of uncertainty, communication is critical
- Provide patients with basic, timely information
- Learn from pharmacies that are taking the lead to communicate with their customers
In a crisis, don’t forget to communicate
Most independent pharmacists have experienced some type of crisis. It could be a major snowstorm, a flood, a tornado, a fire or some other natural disaster.
But, in most parts of the country, it seems that the worry and disruption related to COVID-19 surpasses anything we’ve ever previously experienced.
Everyone is being bombarded with constant information, statistics and stories. For many, life has been drastically altered. Our patients and customers are anxious and uncertain.
At this moment, we all have a million conflicting priorities. We must deal with operations and purchasing. We have to fill prescriptions and keep our staff members safe.
In trying to help our customers, run our pharmacies and take care of our families, we can lose track of the need to engage in basic communication with our customers and our community.
Communicate clear messages in multiple ways
When communication is critical and urgent — as it is at the moment — follow these guidelines:
- Reinforce the basics. Even if it’s “business as usual” at your pharmacy, customers need to know that, especially in an environment where so many retail stores are closed. In all of your communications, reiterate clear messages:
- Confirming that your store is open
- Stating your hours, phone number and address
- Informing customers about your services such as delivery, curbside pickup and med sync
- Telling customers where to find more information, including your website and Facebook page
- Keep your website and Facebook page updated. Many organizations have created a special page or section for the latest COVID-19 information. Update this page or section frequently. See Creswell Health Mart Pharmacy in Oregon’s Facebook page.
- Add visuals. Pictures grab attention and help your messages stand out. See the example from Taylor Drug’s website.
- Respond quickly. People expect fast answers. If no one responds quickly to an email or a question on your Facebook page, people will seek answers elsewhere. Have one staff member be responsible for responding. Better yet, anticipate questions and send out information before people ask.
- Reach out in new ways. Dennis Song, owner of Flower Mound Pharmacy, posted a 10-minute video on the store’s Facebook page educating customers about COVID-19. He recorded a longer message with his perspective on Spotify.
- Overcommunicate. Don’t expect one message to be enough. Reach out multiple ways at multiple times through multiple communication channels. Use your website and Facebook. Send emails. Have bag stuffers. Record a new voicemail message. Consider using technology to place outbound calls. Be interviewed by the local newspaper.
You be may extremely busy and spread very thin. At such a time, focusing on communication may be the last thing on your mind. But, consider your customers’ perspective. They want to know that your pharmacy is on top of things, is continuing to operate and will be able to serve them.
With all the things you have going on, don’t forget to take a few minutes to continue to communicate.