SMART RETAILING RX BLOG

Is your phone system stuck on hold in the last century?

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Tweak your IVR to make it faster, easier and more personal

In brief:

  • A well-designed phone system allows your pharmacy to serve customers more efficiently, without sacrificing your personal touch.
  • Several missteps can annoy callers, so take the time to carefully script messages and monitor results.

Good and bad phone experiences strongly impact consumers.

  • Nearly 80% of U.S. adults said a positive phone experience increased their loyalty as a customer.
  • 75% said a negative phone experience caused them to do business with a competitor. 1

So, is your phone system helping or hurting your pharmacy’s business?

Independent pharmacy owners differentiate themselves by providing consistent outstanding service. An inefficient phone system hurts the customer’s experience and tarnishes your service-first reputation.

With proper planning, an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system delivers efficient and personalized service, even if reserved for after-hour calls.

Program your phone system with these guidelines in mind:

  • Say it yourself. Record messages from you or a staff member with a great voice to reinforce the personal connection between patients and your team. If no one on your staff fits the role, hire a professional to customize the messages on your phone system to differentiate your business.
  • Make a great first impression. Don’t use, “Thank you for calling our pharmacy!” because many businesses use that same line.Instead, consider a brief, unique greeting that reinforces your brand. For example, “Backed by four generations, our pharmacy continues to keep families healthy in Townville. Here are three options to allow us to serve you.” Make a great first impression by showing your warm, engaging personality. Be fun and make people smile. Your exclusive greeting creates a positive impression and will generate positive word of mouth.
  • Limit the options. Keep it simple to avoid confusion and frustration. Track why people call your pharmacy most often and design your phone menu based on that info. Offer the most frequently requested option first, and offer just three or four choices. For example, “To refill a prescription, press 1. To speak with a pharmacy staff member, press 2. Or for our store hours and location, press 3.”
  • Think like a caller. Give directions in the order that most callers will need them. Don’t start with the action first, such as “Press 1 to ….” Once you plan your messaging, select a few employees or friends to test the voice prompts to ensure accuracy and ease of use.
  • Don’t trap anyone. For people who make a mistake in the process, provide simple options so they can continue their call, other than hanging up and calling back. During business hours, always provide your customer with the option to opt out of the menu and speak with an on-site staff member. For calls received after hours, guarantee a call back in the morning (and make sure to deliver on it).
  • Update often. An effective phone system provides the opportunity to interact and build relationships with your customers. For example, “Your prescription will be ready after 1 p.m. When you come in, please ask about our planned pickup option to receive all your monthly prescriptions at the same time.”
  • Check the results. If your system provides data on popular options and at what point customers hang up, leverage that data to improve your system. This also provides an opportunity to adjust staffing during peak call hours, typically between noon and 1 p.m. No one wants to hear, “Your call is important to us!” repetitively while on hold, so limit wait times to keep your credibility intact.
  • Try new features. IVR phone systems continue to evolve, so look for options that suit your ever-evolving business. Could you satisfy more customers with a multilingual voice system? Would entering information by voice be more convenient than by keypad? Can your system recognize incoming calls from providers and route them automatically?

Use your phone system to enhance, not replace, customer contact and ensure positive experiences, build customer loyalty and uphold your reputation.

Automated birthday calls?
Pharmacy owners proudly claim their customers enjoy receiving a simple “Happy Birthday” phone call through their IVR system.

Insincere discount coupons push customers away instead of recognizing their loyalty.

A genuine “Happy Birthday” call asks for nothing in return. Think of when you receive a birthday text or Facebook post from a friend.

“Report: Bad Phone Experience Will Send 74 Percent of Consumers to a Competitor,” Greg Sterling, Marketing Land, Nov. 12, 2015. LINK
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