Pharmacy is a healthcare business that aims to meet patient needs while providing scientific advice and health solutions.
In this context, the importance of effective customer communication with the customer is essential. Today, the buying behavior of the consumer has changed.
He is now well informed and spends more carefully, looking for "value for money".
Effective customer communication is the key to this endeavor.
Communicate with a customer means:
- I accept the customer’s personality, status and views,
- I recognize what interests him and makes him aware, and
- I recognize his personal peculiarities.
The most common barriers to effective in-pharmacy communication are:
- Fear that the health advisor will be personally committed to the advice he/she gives.
Pharmacy sales team must be sure about the solutions and products they propose and this is achieved only with up-to-date information and full knowledge of the available products and the health or beauty needs they meet.
- Lack of time.
Often there is not enough time for the "health advisor" to deal individually with the customer.
But he/she can ask him to wait for a while, until the other customers who have priority are served or to meet him later in the day.
- Lack of privacy.
The pharmacy is not always suitable for direct communication.
A private corner, a remote counter or an isolated table with a chair, help the privacy and confidentiality that communication sometimes requires.
- The inappropriate vocabulary and the sophisticated questions.
The "health advisor" must recognize the limits of any communication.
The reason must correspond to the general educational level of the customer and the questions should never put him in a difficult position. Interest does not mean curiosity.
Routine is the enemy of effective communication.
The "health advisor" must adapt to the ever-changing needs and behaviors of his/her customers. This is a challenge!
So the pharmacist must overcome the above obstacles, shaping the pharmacy space and work accordingly.
In addition, the entire pharmacy team should be aware and conscious that communication is not just words.
The customer receives a series of scattered messages during communication, related to all of his senses.
Therefore, attention should be paid equally to verbal, as well as non-verbal communication.
The words, the vocabulary, the way of expression and verbal sentence, the tone of voice should be consistent with the external appearance, the body language, the distance of communication with the customer and the general degree of intimacy.
The key lies in the pharmacy "health advisor's" ability to employ the right verbal and non-verbal tools, depending on the level of communication sought with the customer.
4 BASIC STEPS FOR EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION AND SALES
The pharmacy team can rely on a simple model of communication and advice for successful sales that includes the following steps:
1. CUSTOMER RECEPTION
The first contact with the customer is often the most important. This means that the "health advisor" must:
- Take time to understand customer's needs
- Show interest to gain his trust
- Has a suitable posture that indicates that he is "available"
- Let the customer express himself freely
This step requires patience and persistence. The customer should be given time to clearly express his problem and his needs, to be fully understood
2. INVESTIGATION OF A PROBLEM OR A NEED
After the first contact, the "health advisor" must thoroughly investigate the customer's problem or need.
So he should:
- Keep confidentiality by ensuring that no one else is listening
- Discover the profile of the customer (conservative, modern…) and communicate verbally and non-verbally at a similar level
- Understand the customer's problem / request and make him feel unique.
He should then ask a series of questions that will help him better understand his problem or need, while at the same time enabling him to highlight additional needs or problems.
After the first two steps and after the customer's problem or need has been fully understood, it is necessary to summarize the customer's problem/need, which in turn will lead to the customer's consent.
This is achieved by RESTATEMENT.
"So you told me you'd like a product that would give you the desired right action?"
This step of restatement, essentially paves the way for the final consent of the customer, the product proposal and the effective closure of the transaction.
4. PRODUCT PROPOSAL AND SALE CLOSURE
Only at this stage the "health advisor" presents the product/s, not earlier.
The customer should not feel that we are trying to "sell" him something he has not agreed to.
So we first present the benefits and then the characteristics of the products, justifying our recommendation.
Sell “the benefits” not “the product”.
We also mention the price of the product and emphasize the price-benefit ratio and why this is the best suited for the customer.
Our suggestion could be:
"In order to have the desired result, I suggest you … [mention the benefits of the product to him and then its characteristics and actions].
The price is X Euro and so you will have … [mention another action or benefit]. So what do you say about it?
The customer must leave the pharmacy happy of the choice he made, not your choice.
So we have successfully completed a sale, while at the same time showed interest and devoted time to the customer.
This way, it is likely he will come back and eventually become a loyal customer.