Pharmacy Times

Mail-Order Pharmacy Customer Satisfaction Declines

Author: Aimee Simone, Editorial Intern

Customer satisfaction with mail-order pharmacies declined again in an annual study by J.D. Power and Associates.

Customer satisfaction scores for mail-order pharmacies continue to decline, falling short of those for brick-and-mortar pharmacies, according to the results of the 2012 U.S. Pharmacy Study conducted by J.D. Power and Associates.
 
The study, released on September 27, 2012, scored customer satisfaction on a 1000-point scale and was based on responses from more than 12,700 pharmacy customers who filled a prescription during 2012. The average score for mail-order pharmacies was 792, while the average score for all brick-and-mortar pharmacies, which include chain pharmacies, supermarket pharmacies, and mass merchandisers, was 814. (Compared with the 2011 study, the average score for mail-order pharmacies was down 14 points and the average score for brick-and-mortar pharmacies was down 4 points.) The average score for all supermarket pharmacies was 822; for all mass merchandisers, 798; and for all chain pharmacies, 799.
 
Customer satisfaction with mail-order pharmacies was measured in 4 areas: cost competiveness, prescription delivery, ordering, and customer service. The study found that satisfaction decreased in each category, especially cost competiveness, which is generally seen as the main advantage of mail-order pharmacies.
 
The decline in satisfaction is most likely tied to customer service, according to Rick Millard, senior director of the healthcare practice at J.D. Power and Associates.
 
“Customer service is becoming an increasingly important advantage of the brick-and-mortar pharmacy experience,” Millard said in a press release. “The pharmacist is at the heart of that customer service. While the majority of customers don’t speak with the pharmacist, their presence may help draw customers to stores.”
 
Customer satisfaction with brick-and-mortar pharmacies was measured in 5 areas: ordering and pickup process, store, cost competiveness, non-pharmacist staff, and pharmacist. The researchers found that, after location, customer service was the most important factor to consumers when choosing a particular pharmacy.
 
The study found that 37% of customers who use in-store pharmacies are asked by the pharmacy staff if they want to speak with a pharmacist, a slight increase from 35% in 2011. Among the 23% of customers who speak with a pharmacist in person, 61% purchased additional OTC medications during their visit, compared with just 24% of those who do not speak with a pharmacist.
 
“Pharmacists, who are viewed as one of the most highly esteemed professional groups, are there to provide customer service, not just dispense prescriptions,” said Millard. “It’s surprising that more customers don’t utilize the opportunity, given that pharmacists provide free health advice, and you don’t have to make an appointment.”
 
Among chain drug stores, Health Mart ranked highest in terms of customer satisfaction, with a score of 848. Good Neighbor Pharmacy and the Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy tied for second, with a score of 843.
 
Sam’s Club ranked highest among mass merchandiser pharmacies with a score of 838, followed by Target (835) and Costco (819).
 
Publix ranked highest for the third consecutive year in the supermarket segment, with a score of 872. Wegmans ranked second (861), followed by Winn-Dixie/Bi-Lo (842).
 
Kaiser Permanente Pharmacy ranked highest among mail-order pharmacies for the fourth consecutive year, with a score of 847, followed by Humana RightSourceRx (805).

To read our article about the results of last year's survey, click here.