West Corporation

Posted on August 25, 2016 by West Corporation 

4 Customer Service Lessons Starbucks Can Teach Retail Pharmacies

By Mike Snyder, Director, Interactive Services, West Corporation

Let’s face it, the healthcare industry is far behind other industries when it comes to customer service best practices. Other industries, even traditionally regulated ones such as telecommunications and aviation, have long since reoriented their operations with a core focus on the needs of the customer. More recently, retail businesses have focused intently on creating customized interactions via live calls, self-service contact center connections, and interactive mobile apps and web portals.

The good news for retail pharmacies is that among healthcare organizations, they are best positioned to take on this transformation. Their roots are in retail, giving them a leg up on customer experience and lifecycle, versus healthcare providers who have only recently begun to take metrics like patient experience ratings into account. Retail pharmacies now have a window of opportunity – when consumers with more skin in the game financially are seeking a go-to healthcare hub to deliver the same experience provided by the commercial world.

The caveat, however, is that even as retail pharmacies continue their march into more core provider services, such as case management for chronic conditions, they must look outside of the healthcare industry for best practices approaches to engage and delight the modern healthcare consumer.

In fact, retail pharmacies would do much better to take a page from the book of a retail giant like Starbucks to modernize their customer service operations. Here are four innovations from Starbucks that can help retail pharmacies marry integrated services to improve healthcare outcomes, such as medication adherence, while elevating their level of customer service.

1. Create an Express Store
Last year, Starbucks decided to open its first express store across from the New York Stock Exchange. Starbucks calls it the “espresso shot” version of the store. The idea is to streamline the experience for customers who know exactly what they want by shortening their wait time. There’s a benefit to Starbucks too; the store takes up a smaller footprint than a normal store in a very high-rent district.

Retail pharmacies can also incorporate this “express” theme into their connections with their customers. By enabling self-service and using data to predict why a customer may be contacting you, you can simplify the customer experience (while reducing your own operating expenses). By listening to consumers to learn their most popular “orders” – perhaps “questions about drug side effects” instead of “venti vanilla soy latte” – retail pharmacies can design the user experience to help get most frequently asked questions handled more quickly.

2. Partner to Add Value
Starbucks recently inked partnerships with music streaming service Spotify and the New York Times to allow Starbucks customers to have access to music and news content free of charge, enhancing the store experience. In the case of Spotify, the partnership also allows customers to influence the playlist in a particular store, personalizing the experience themselves.

Retail pharmacies can also partner to increase customer satisfaction, whether it is with primary care providers to simplify and streamline care coordination, with labs or urgent care facilities to increase retail clinic options, or with pharmaceuticals to sponsor targeted adherence programs. Some pharmacies are even coordinating with health insurers to best manage step therapy approaches to certain chronic illnesses. Retail pharmacies can become a crucial healthcare hub, creating a more seamless journey, and eliminating breakpoints by sharing information among healthcare organizations to improve outcomes.

3. Go Digital
As of April, 21 percent of U.S. Starbucks purchases were made via the smartphone app. The app allows patrons to order and pay for drinks, and then skip the line and head right to the pick-up counter. Starbucks has succeeded where other mobile pay platforms such as Google Wallet, haven’t gained much traction. That’s because in the case of long coffee lines, there is a significant benefit to self-service.

The same is true when it comes to healthcare. Retail pharmacies that enable end-to-end self-service options, can decrease wait times and speed up processes. By offering self-service options by phone, web portal, or mobile app, retail pharmacies can both increase customer satisfaction and free up valuable pharmacist time to focus on patients with more complex queries.

4. Meet Customers Where They Are
The best retailers are proactively engaging customers beyond store visits or calls into their contact centers. In the case of Starbucks, this means coffee delivery. Last year some lucky patrons who work in New York’s Empire State Building were the first to have Starbucks delivered through a program called the “Starbucks Green Apron Delivery Service”. Starbucks plans to expand the service to a soccer field near you, among other places, through a partnership with on-demand delivery service Postmates. It’s currently available in places like Seattle, Washington and Berkeley, California.

Cutting edge retail pharmacies are reaching out to customers proactively via reminder texts to refill prescriptions or to stay on track with chronic disease management. Retail pharmacies need to start tapping into internal information, known preferences, and even social media data to better understand how, when, and what to communicate with their customers.

Leveraging technology for customer service gains
Pharmacy chains that follow the lead of the best retail players—like Starbucks—will have the opportunity to deliver personalized healthcare through a combination of automation and the pharmacist touch. Retail pharmacy should engage technology partners with broad retail experience to help streamline processes to fill prescriptions, maximize workflow, monitor performance, and track medication adherence.

It’s almost unheard of for a healthcare organization to be named among the best companies for customer service, but that’s about to change. Retail pharmacies have deep experience in retail and occupy a unique hub in healthcare. The time is now to leverage technology to optimize the patient experience.

The next Starbucks just might be a retail pharmacy chain.

Mike Snyder is a leader in consumer engagement. For over a decade, Mike has helped Fortune 100 companies across all industry verticals develop strategies to better engage their customers, drive down cost of service, strengthen loyalty, and increase revenue.

West Corporation

Posted on August 24, 2016 by West Corporation 

Machine Learning: You Can Take it to the Bank

Greg Ablett, a senior vice president at West, explores the vast customer experience (CX) opportunities that machine learning is opening up in the competitive, security-centric world of banking in his guest blog post for ABA Bank Marketing:

“Machine learning has great potential to improve the CX at today’s banks by taking advantage of the data already at their disposal. When deployed correctly, this technology can predict and actively address customer questions and concerns before they arise. As a result, customers can dodge common annoyances like navigating unwieldy banking websites or complex phone support menus. Let’s look at interactive voice response (IVR) as an example…”

Click here to read Greg’s entire discussion.

West Corporation

Posted on August 18, 2016 by West Corporation 

5 Strategies of Successful Retail Pharmacy Chains

By Robert J. Dudzinski, Pharm.D., Executive Vice President, West Corporation

Customers have long turned to their trusted pharmacist for advice about managing their medications and their health conditions. But as consumers take on more financial responsibility for their healthcare, they need to engage even more with their pharmacists. To that end, pharmacies have an unprecedented opportunity to enhance their status as a valued provider.
Read More >

West Corporation

Posted on August 16, 2016 by West Corporation 

Going for CX Gold

Olympic athletes like Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt make their respective talents seem simply effortless don’t they? The reality is that the world’s best honed their crafts through lifetimes of dedication. But they all started somewhere.

In every industry, the idea of overhauling any type of operational framework is a fleeting one, riddled with bouts of panic and quickly swept under the rug. This is especially true when it comes to brainstorming ways to deliver a better customer experience.

Luckily, providing customers with more fulfilling interactions doesn’t actually have to be a slash-and-burn process. It just involves more proactively chasing your vision. You have to begin by beginning. Read More >

West Corporation

Posted on August 11, 2016 by West Corporation 

Automating Resident Communications? 5 Pitfalls to Avoid

By Sean McCarthy, User Experience Designer, West Healthcare

Long-term care providers are bracing for a myriad of challenges in the next five years, not the least of which will be the exodus of experienced workers. According to researchers at Georgetown University, the United States is facing an imminent nursing shortage, predicted to reach a deficit of 93,000 registered nurses (RNs) by 2020. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, employment of nursing aides and orderlies is projected to grow 17 percent between now and 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations.

As the population ages, and millions of Americans seek long-term care, it is of paramount importance to automate routine tasks in order to free up staff to provide personalized assistance when most needed. One of the first places to look for efficiencies is the contact center. The contact center should be able to quickly and clearly answer simple questions, and route residents and family members to the right department when their questions are more complex.

The challenge is to deliver a high-tech and highly personal customer experience to a demographic that may be wary of change. Here are five pitfalls to avoid.
Read More >

West Corporation

Posted on August 5, 2016 by West Corporation 

Geographic Information Systems in the PSAP: Strategic Planning for Data Integrity

By Charles Van Hoose, Sr. GIS Analyst at West

The importance of mission critical Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data for call- and dispatch- mapping in the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) cannot be overemphasized. Accurate data combined with tactical mapping is critical for locating incidents, callers and devices, for dispatching appropriate resources, and for communicating situational awareness to first responders.

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West Corporation

Posted on August 4, 2016 by West Corporation 

Top 3 Resources for Retail Pharmacists

Retail Pharmacy: Upping the Engagement Game
Pharmacists have long been a trusted source for advice on medication, however, the role of the pharmacist has evolved. They are no longer simply dispensing drugs — they are becoming providers. With this evolution, comes a plethora of opportunities. Pharmacies can be the healthcare nexus for patients in an ecosystem that can feel impersonal and fragmented.
Check out our top 3 resources for retail pharmacists, and visit us at NACDS Total Store Expo to learn more about how West helps retail pharmacies up their engagement game.
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West Corporation

Posted on August 3, 2016 by West Corporation 

Communication that Supports a Community in Crisis

When a shirt doesn’t fit quite right, or the cable bill is steeper than in the past, customers expect reliable communication to rectify the inconvenience. But what if a person’s well-being depended on a brand’s ability to deliver timely interactions? Often, keeping customers connected is not only a luxury, but a necessity.

That was the case when a devastating flood hit West Virginia and an entire community was left without power and easy access to the pharmacies on which they relied for essential prescriptions. In the midst of this disaster, one pharmacy opened a mobile pharmacy to ensure folks in need were able to get their medications. Read More >

West Corporation

Posted on July 28, 2016 by West Corporation 

Post-Discharge Communication Tips To Help Patients Avoid Readmission

By Fonda Narke, Director of Product Integration, West Corporation Healthcare Practice

Experienced healthcare professionals know that effective communication with patients is key for successful care transitions between the hospital and home or rehab. Time and again, patients stop adhering to meds or abandon therapies altogether if follow up from providers isn’t consistent. As such, a number of communication best practices are recommended for today’s care transition management (TCM) programs, spanning from prior to discharge, to the focus of this article, after the patient leaves the hospital. Read More >

West Corporation

Posted on July 21, 2016 by West Corporation 

One Size Won’t Fit All When Connecting With Customers

Proactive Tip SheetEvery brand is unique, every division within a business is unique, and each customer reaching out to each division is particularly unique.

It’s easy to see: With unique goals and preferences, customers don’t want to be “talked at.” They want to be heard.

Implementing a communication strategy without an inside look at their wants and needs is like convincing a toddler to eat broccoli because “it’s good for them.” Read More >

West Corporation