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New Trends in Pharmacy Management Workshop 12 -13 March 2011 Customer Service Techniques For Pharmacist Lara Abbasi
COURSE OVERVIEW: n This course is designed to help pharmacist and Assistant pharmacist to improve their customer service effectiveness. This course will focus on tackling difficulties of effective customer service by sharpening staff’s telephone and face-to- face customer service skills.
OUTLINE: Objectives n Introduction n Customer Service Mission Statement n Interacting With Customers n Face-to-Face Customer Service n Telephone Customer Service n The Difficult/Angry Customer n Conclusion n
COURSE OBJECTIVES: By the conclusion of this course, participants should be able to … n · Identify invaluable skills for interacting with customers n · Identify appropriate face-to- face customer service practices n · Explain the standards for telephone customer service n · Describe approaches for handling difficult/angry customers
Introduction Customer- A person or group with whom a business has dealings with, i. e. paying customers, insurance companies/agents, doctors, pharmacists, distributors (vendors).
n Customer service- The act of serving a customer; everything you do to add value to your core product or service. Customer service is everything you do to add value to your core product or service. Good customer service can set one business apart from other competitors (Fisk, 1995). It can result in increased sales from existing customers and bring in new customers through good word of mouth.
n According to Orvel Ray Wilson (1996) in “A Crash Course in Customer Recourse”, If someone has a good experience at your place o they will tell at least three people, while a disgrun customer will tell twelve people about an unpleas unplea experience with a company.
Who pays our salaries? * The customers do. n Without customers, you wouldn’t have a job. In a sense, customers are your employers and you must do all you can to keep these individuals or groups satisfied to the fullest extent; therefore, your real job is to instill in the customer the highest level of end-result satisfaction. n
n In some work settings, customer service only becomes an issue when a complaint is received. Then customer service functions are implemented to resolve the problem; only after it has already occurred. The best approach to avoid any discontent invoked by the initial problem is to practice good customer service from the start.
“Helping people spend their time, effort and/or money efficiently is what good customer service is all about and what business is, and has always been, about”
GENERAL CUSTOMER SERVICE MISSION STATEMENT All customers are entitled to be treated in the following manner… n With quality products and services n With full focus and attention n With the freedom to ask questions and receive appropriate feedback n With the right to file a complaint if the company/employee has made an error n With respect, fairness, and courtesy
Invaluable Skills for Interacting With Customers Whether helping customers face-to-face or speaking with them on the phone, it is important to use good manners and enthusiasm. To win a customer over, you need to establish a rapport early on. This can be done by letting them know you genuinely care and want to help.
n Have a good attitude. Service begins with attitude. If you have a positive attitude, you’ll find being friendly and helpful comes naturally. Only about 20% of your customers will give you a tough time. So why let such a small percentage of them ruin your entire day? Customer service is 80% attitude and 20% technique: 80 + 20=100% service
n Make a lasting first impression. Customers will form an initial impression and make judgments about you in the first three to four seconds after they meet you or talk to you on the phone. Make eye contact and smile. If you can’t help a customer right away, let them know you will be with them as soon as possible. What ever you do, don’t ignore your customers.
n Go for the quick fix. Customers don’t like to wait, especially when they have a problem they need you to solve. Begin trouble shooting with the customer right away. A prompt partial solution is better than a full resolution that takes a long time.
n Always follow up. If you promise to look into something for a customer, do so, and do it promptly. Keep the customer updated. Such thoughtfulness will score you big points
Talk the talk. Make sure dialogue is as effective as possible. Choose your words carefully. Choose words that reflect a service attitude. The very way you say something is important. For example, “May I help you? ” does not sound as friendly or complete as “How may I help you? ” Other service friendly phrases include: “I apologize for the inconvenience. ” “Thank you for taking the time to let me know. ” “I don’t know the answer right now, but I’d be happy to find out for you. ” n
n Show some empathy! Empathy is more than sympathy. It means understanding the needs of your customers. Your customers will be more impressed by how much you empathize than by how much you know. No one likes having their questions met with an apathetic or rude response. A little human concern goes a long way; especially when you are trying to win over customers.
n Heed customer criticism. If customers constantly make the same complaints, it’s a sign that your service system needs improvement. Make sure this feedback gets in the hands of the proper policy makers.
n Let them down easily. If you have to decline a customer request to uphold company policy, do so in a gentle way( Not Giving discounts) Briefly explain, without being defensive, why the policy exists and how it protects the customer, i. e. “we established this policy to protect customer confidentiality. ” When possible, offer the customer an alternate solution. Avoid being excessively apologetic to the point your apology sounds defensive or false. Express your disappointment at not being able to meet the customer’s needs.
n All’s well that ends well. Last impressions are just as important as first ones. Make sure customers leave or hang up the phone on a positive note. Stay friendly, maintain eye contact (if in person), and remember to say “thank you”, “come/call again”, and “goodbye”
Quality Face-to-Face Customer Service Customers will remember the way you treated them for a long time. Their first impression of you and the business for which you work will determine whether they will bring their business to you again.
When a customer comes in person to drop off a prescription, pick up a prescription, or for any other reason, you must be aware of the customer’s expectations of his/her visit to your work setting. Employees should make special effort to take note of people who enter their place of work. It is important to immediately make the customer feel welcome.
let’s discuss what experiences a customer would wish to steer clear of during a visit. Consider the following: n Being forced to wait in a long line n Being ignored n Being waited on by a poorly informed staff member n Being treated in a casual manner or as if you are an unimportant customer
The following appropriate standards for face-to-face customer service should be practiced at all times.
n Never ignore a customer. Acknowledge anyone who the pharmacist encounter swithin 30 seconds. Thank customers who have waited, no matter how long the wait.
n Greet customers with a smile and eye contact. Even if you don’t feel like smiling, get in the habit of doing it anyway. Believe it or not, smiling can help you relax and can positively influence your mood. Any smile (even a half a smile) is more appealing than a grouchy mood, shrug, or sigh. It is also important to maintain eye contact with your customers when greeting and speaking to them, for drifting eyes indicate a drifting mind.
n Keep an open eye on customer service areas. There is nothing worse for a customer than waiting on employees to approach the customer service area after socializing or chatting with other co-workers. Make sure to be at or near the customer service areas at all times.
n It’s all in the name. If you think you might be doing business with a customer again (and it is hoped that you will), try to remember the customer’s name and any special information about their needs. Customers feel important when you show that you remember them from a previous visit to your work environment.
n NOTE: It is always best to address a customer by their last name (i. e. Mr. , Mrs. , Miss Smith), unless the customer requests otherwise.
n Actions speak louder than words. When a customer asks for directions (e. g. , location of a product), do not just point toward the appropriate area. , take the initiative to walk the customer to where he/she needs to go.
n People first, paper second. Rather than answer customers’ questions by handing them a brochure or information card, take the time to personally help them. Walk the customer through the brochure, pointing out important information. Instead of immediately asking for information to fill out your paperwork, i. e. “What’s your date of birth, etc? ”, take the time to foster a relationship with the customer.
n NOTE: Remember to always ask customers before they leave the prescription counter if there any questions about their medication(s). All questions specific to prescription and over the counter medications should be directed to the pharmacist or assistants. Cashiers should not answer any customers questions.
n When you go the extra mile for the customer, you can’t go wrong! Follow the golden rule as it relates to customer service; “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. ”
Standards for Telephone Customer Service Inevitably, the phone will ring while you are involved in another activity. As a result, many employees view the phone call as an interruption; something that should be dispensed with as quickly as possible. But telephone customer service is just as important as any other activity that you might be engaging in on a dayto-day basis. Let us begin our investigation into telephone customer service standards by defining what should be avoided.
The following are telephone service problems the caller wishes to avoid: Waiting while the phone rings continuously n Being greeted in a cursory or rude fashion n Being transferred to someone who is not available or to someone who cannot help them n Being placed on “hold” for a long period of time n Getting the call transferred several times n
Good telephone customer service consists of the following: n Answer the phone promptly. The customer is calling for some sort of assistance. The longer you let the phone ring, the more impatient the customer gets. Answering the phone quickly (preferably by the second ring) shows your concern for the customer on the other end, and it also portrays you as efficient.
n Identify yourself and the pharmacy name immediately. In addition to this being the polite and professional way to answer the phone, it confirms to the customer that they have reached the number that they intended to call.
n Be friendly. Sounds simple, but this is often forgotten. Start with a helpful and friendly attitude. Practice if you need to, but always make it a practice when you pick up the phone. When you’re on the phone, your voice always sounds exactly like your face looks. All the more reason to keep smiling- it relaxes your vocal chords!
n Have all your resources available. When your customer calls with a question or a problem, the last thing they want to do is wait for you to be prepared to help them. Being unprepared gives the impression that you don’t know what you are doing.
n n Indicate your regret when applicable. There are times when the customer needs reinforcement from you. It may be due to frustration with the problem they are calling about. It is important to recognize when you should express regret, and do so in a genuine manner. The following are some typical guidelines: If the customer was disconnected from an earlier call If the customer claims that somebody made a mistake If the customer has been on hold a long time
n Use the caller’s name. When ever possible, use the customer’s name on the phone. Calling the customer by his/her name shows that you are interested and attentive to him/her.
n Don’t interrupt. Interrupting a customer only sends the message that you are not polite or sensitive to what the customer needs. It also implies that you are not listening and that you might be missing a critical piece of information. Wait until the customer stops talking and then get the information that you missed.
n Get as much information as quickly as possible. Request information as soon as possible. Ask for prescription number or customer’s date of birth, telephone number and any other pertinent information as soon as you can.
n Speak clearly to make yourself understood. If you are trying to help solve a problem with a customer, speak slowly to be sure you are not misunderstood.
n n Transfer a call only when absolutely necessary. Try to resolve the customer’s concern yourself. If you need to transfer a call, follow this protocol: Explain the need to transfer and why. When transferring, announce the call to the person you are transferring to and make sure the caller has the correct number to call if they are disconnected for any reason. If you have to transfer an upset caller to a coworker, be sure to “warn” your coworker. If you can, explain the customer’s situation to your co worker to save the customer from repeating the story and getting upset again.
n Hang up gently. There is nothing worse than hearing a phone slammed in your ear! Let the customer hang up first. Wait one second, and then hang up the phone gently.
Handling The Difficult/Angry Customer n It is inevitable that you will come into contact with customers who are frustrated, angry, and purely unpleasant to deal with; however, it is essential that you are able to respond to even the most difficult customer in a way that not only addresses the customer’s problems efficiently, but will also direct them toward reasonable solutions. Your first response to any customer that complains to you should be to thank him/her for advising you of the situation and apologize
n When you apologize, you acknowledge that the customer has had an unpleasant experience and you express your personal concern. It doesn’t mean you are accepting blame for the situation. Remember, you cannot correct problems unless you are aware of them. Respond as quickly as possible to resolve the problem. A customer who has their complaint satisfactorily resolved is five times as likely to buy from you again! (Wilson, 1996)
What is your view for handling a tough customer? Do you (Check off any of the items below that match your personal philosophy)… n View a customer with a problem as a pain in the neck? n Believe that the customer isn’t always right, and sometimes you need to tell them so! n Believe only a saint could avoid letting a moment filled with angry customers get the best of them. If you checked even one of the above items, it’s time to transform your ideas about conflict resolution.
The following is a list of approaches to take when dealing with the difficult/angry customer n Let the customer explain. Simply listen. People need to air their frustrations before they are ready to hear what you have to say, and you need to fully understand their problem before you can help.
n Investigate the situation thoroughly. Gather all the facts so you know what’s happened-and what actions you need to take. Ask the customer to repeat any relevant information if necessary. Stay neutral and avoid being defensive.
n State that you want to help. Make a positive statement such as, “I’d like to help you take care of this…” Let your customers know that you understand their needs and that their situation is worth listening to.
n Talk in a calm, sincere manner. Control your tone without being falsely calm. Let your warmth and concern shine through. Focus on the customer’s concerns. Avoid blame or insinuation.
n Empathize with the customer. View the situation from the customer’s perspective. Listen for feelings and perceptions, not just words.
n Neutralize the atmosphere by remaining positive. See a conflict as an opportunity to help someone rather than a problem. People don’t always mean to be difficult and demanding, but sometimes situations get the best of them.
NOTE: If the customer is upset due to a discrepancy with his/her medication (i. e. wrong prescription was filled, incorrect amount of pills in the bottle, etc. ), immediately direct the customer’s complaint to the Chief pharmacist. All of these pointers/tactics for dealing with the angry/difficult customer is a way of putting yourself on the customer’s side so you can start to work together to solve the problem. n Do not blame your co workers for the mistake. One of us mistake is everyone’s mistake. n
CONCLUSION n Friendly, enthusiastic, and courteous customer service is an essential for dealing with all types of customers in the pharmacy setting (and any setting); whether the customer is a difficult one or a pleasure to serve. Good customer service is not something that should be practiced every once in a while; it is an ongoing, long term commitment to all those you come into contact with during your work shift. When good customer service is put to practice, everyone wins. Good customer service builds a sense of trust and satisfaction among your customers, while presenting your work environment as professional and credible. These are the qualities that will retain existing customers and make new customers loyal ones.
n n Now that you have completed the “Customer Service Training Course For Pharmacist”, you will find that applying the skills that you have learned will help you consistently meet your customers’ needs and exceed their expectations. Remember, a satisfied customer will remain a loyal one, so make the commitment and effort to build lasting relationships. “Continued good service goes hand-in-hand with continued good business”