Ireland’s pharmacy sector has experienced increased pressures over the last number of years. Many environmental pressures are driving community pharmacists from the market with 22% of respondents to the Fitzgerald Power survey considering selling their pharmacy (2015 Fitzgerald Power Limited). Most of these are independent pharmacy outlets.
The Pharmacy sector is very competitive. In the last three years, there has been a rise in competitive threats such as the increase in supermarket in-store pharmacies, access to medicines online and access to medicines from international markets.
These threats coupled with customers dictating what they want, when they want it, leave pharmacies with little choice but to embrace innovation and improve efficiencies if they want to remain competitive.
We take a brief look at how Loyalty can assist innovation and differentiation for within the Pharmacy sector.
Consumer trends in Pharmacy indicate medical card holders and the elderly tend to be more loyal but younger customers are more likely to drift. Majority “drifters”, said that price was not the main factor and poor customer service would make them move to another pharmacy. Other research has shown women use pharmacies more often than men. Women are a very important demographic for the pharmacy sector. Many customers say that there needs to be greater improvement in patient orientated services, for example, advice. Even small snippets of information about your customers can shape your understanding of your customer and in turn your service offering.
Understanding your customers is a key aspect of a good Loyalty programme. Understanding leads to improved customer experience and increased customer loyalty. Businesses don’t have to engage in price wars. After all, a 2% increase in customer retention has the same effect as decreasing costs by 10% (Social annex, 2016).
The best way to gain real-time customer data is invest in a system that can harness your customer data and relay it to you in a usable fashion. Using data to identify patterns will enable pharmacies to understand their customers and in turn, help to understand what customers expect from them. Surveys show 73% of shoppers think loyalty programmes should demonstrate how loyal a company is to its customers. Offer your loyalty customers something they will appreciate because meeting your customers’ expectations is a clear demonstration of your loyalty to your customers. So whether it’s a savings club, % discounts on their favourite products or an additional service, for example, loyalty members get free medicine use reviews, shorter prescription waits or a free basic health check. Understand what it is that your customers expect from you and deliver.
Constantly gaining insights into your customer behaviour means you can connect with them effectively and personalise interactions with your customers. The right communication or reward to the right customer will lead to a true connection between your customers and you and in turn greater customer loyalty. A good Loyalty programme could engage the 24-34 age group that, currently, are a key challenge for the Irish pharmacy market.
In summary, try to understand your customers by using their data. With this data, offer a strategic customer experience, personalise interactions and offers and exceed your customers’ expectations.