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Your customer is changing. Are you keeping up?

In an increasingly digital world, your customers’ expectations are constantly evolving — and your pharmacy needs to evolve with them.

Here are five ways your customers are changing, and what these changes mean for you.

08 Sept 2019

5 ways pharmacy customers are changing

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When a customer steps into your pharmacy or engages with you online, they’re not just comparing you with competing chemists anymore.

Customer relationship software company Salesforce recently surveyed more than 8,000 consumers globally for the latest edition of their ‘State of the Connected Customer’ report, and found that 73 per cent of respondents said an extraordinary experience with one company raises their expectations for all other companies.

Similarly, 75 per cent of respondents to Econsultancy and Adobe’s ‘Consumerisation of Healthcare’ survey said they expected the same level of service from healthcare providers that they receive from other businesses.

What this means for you is that, as far as your customer is concerned, you are in competition with every other company, regardless of industry. When a company such as Amazon improves the convenience of their customer experience, they aren’t just raising the bar for online retailers — they’re raising the bar for pharmacists, too.

This is important because customers no longer base their loyalty solely on price or product range — rather, Salesforce found that 84 per cent of customers said the experiences provided by a company were at least as important to them as that company’s products and services. That’s up from 80 per cent in last year’s survey, pointing to the increasing power of customer experience as a brand differentiator.

And even if the experience you offer measures up to your customer’s increasingly high expectations 99 out of 100 times, that one time it doesn’t could be fatal — one in three respondents to Pricewaterhouse Coopers’ ‘Future of Customer Experience’ report said they would leave a brand they love after just one bad experience.

Your customers aren’t just comparing you to other pharmacies

62%

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With such a high premium being placed on the customer experience, it’s important to understand their expectations.


Today’s consumers expect a high degree of personalisation and convenience, and they want to be able to pick the time and place that they interact with you — whether that’s in-store, over the phone, or online.


According to the Salesforce report, 40 per cent of customers simply won’t do business with a company if they can’t do it via their preferred channels, while 55 per cent of customers — including a staggering 68 per cent of millennials and Gen Z-ers — prefer digital channels to traditional ones.


In other words, if you’re not online, you’re turning off more than half of your potential customers — and more than two thirds of your potential customers below the age of 40.


The same report states that 62 per cent of customers now expect you to adapt to them based on their actions and behaviours, and 64 per cent expect you to tailor your engagement with them based on your past interactions (so, for instance, you don’t continue to show them ads for products they’ve already purchased).


To be able to offer that level of personalised service, you now need to be able to track your customer’s activity across multiple platforms, with 64 per cent of customers claiming to have used multiple devices to start and complete a single transaction at some point.


There seems to be significant room to improve here, with only 47 per cent of the respondents to the Salesforce survey reporting that companies are actually living up to their expectations — meaning there are plenty of dissatisfied customers out there who are looking for better, more convenient solutions.



Your customers expect you to engage with them on their terms

According to Salesforce, 75 per cent of customers expect companies to use new technologies to create better experiences, and 54 per cent think companies need to fundamentally transform how they engage. The pressure is on to get ahead of the digital curve.

A quarter of a century has passed since the internet was popularised, and 12 years have gone by since the introduction of the iPhone. At this point, it’s not enough to simply have an ‘online presence’ — your customers are expecting you to innovate and provide cutting-edge experiences.

Customers are increasingly open to artificial intelligence, and the role it can play in customer service and commerce. Sixty-two per cent of customers are now open to the use of AI to improve their experiences, up from 59 per cent just a year ago.

Fitness apps and wearables are also on the rise — a GfK study found that 55 per cent of respondents are using tracking devices to monitor their physical state in a bid to improve their health.

The way a company uses technology is increasingly being seen as a proxy for that company’s overall quality, while a failure to innovate is seen as a sign of apathy towards the customer. Two thirds (67%) of customers now believe the way a company uses technology is indicative of how it operates in general, while 61% of customers believe companies that fail to adapt to changing expectations don’t care about them.

It’s probably time to stop using that Geocities site, then...

Your customers expect innovation

Econsultancy and Adobe’s ‘Consumerisation of Healthcare’ report found that 84 per cent of consumers aged 35-55 and 55+, and 85 per cent of consumers aged 18-34, will always research a diagnosis online.

It will come as no surprise to anyone who has worked in a pharmacy recently that customers are increasingly taking it upon themselves to research their symptoms and treatments online.

This DIY mindset is applicable to customers across virtually all industries, as Salesforce found that 68 per cent of people would rather help themselves through self-service instead of waiting to be served, but it’s particularly relevant to the healthcare industry.

Econsultancy and Adobe’s ‘Consumerisation of Healthcare’ report found that 84 per cent of consumers aged 35-55 and 55+, and 85 per cent of consumers aged 18-34, will always research a diagnosis online.

Where someone who felt unwell would once have gone to a doctor for a diagnosis and then headed straight to a pharmacist to buy what the doctor prescribed to them, that person is now just as likely to hit up a search engine to investigate what might be wrong, or to look for a breakdown of their prescribed medication’s ingredients and potential side effects.

Rather than feeling threatened by this development, however, pharmacists should see this as an opportunity to establish trust with their customers.


Your customers are taking matters into their own hands

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By populating your digital channels with trustworthy advice on common illnesses and concerns, and making your website a one-stop shop for pharmacy information, you can build a rapport with your customers that enhances their experience and keeps them coming back for years.

#FakeNews

Trust is the bedrock of any relationship, but this is especially true of customer relations. But today, in the era of #FakeNews, establishing that trust is particularly challenging — 54 per cent of respondents to the Salesforce survey said it’s now harder than ever for companies to earn their trust.

At the same time, 73 per cent of customers say trust in companies matters more than it did a year ago, and 65 per cent have stopped buying from companies that they believe are untrustworthy.

Combined with the aforementioned knowledge that customers are increasingly doing their own research into their health online, and placing as much of a premium on the customer experience as they do on products and services, this presents an opportunity for a pharmacist to position yourself as an authority by creating content that answers your customers’ questions and helps to establish trust in your brand.

Your customers’ expectations might be changing, but as a pharmacist, you still have a better handle on the type of information and advice they’re looking for than anyone else — and giving the customer what they want will always be a good idea.
 

Your customers’ trust is harder to earn than ever 

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