Pharmacy Service Trumps Price in Patient Survey

Good customer service is more important than cost in determining patient satisfaction, a new JD Power and Associates survey shows.

As patients pay higher out-of-pocket costs for their health care, cost awareness plays a larger role in customer satisfaction than in previous years, according to the results of the JD Power and Associates 2010 US National Pharmacy Study, released Tuesday.

Despite the increase, good customer service remains the determining factor in customer satisfaction, the survey found. The findings reflect responses of more than 12,300 patients who filled a new prescription or refilled a prescription during the 3 months prior to the survey, which was conducted in May and June of 2010.

“High performing pharmacies aren’t necessarily those with the lowest prices,” said Jim Dougherty, director of the health care practice at JD Power and Associates. “Rather, pharmacies that are focused on service garner the highest levels of satisfaction. Customer service still trumps price, even in an environment where cost has become increasingly important.”

For brick and mortar pharmacies, the payoff for delivering excellent service comes in the form of patient retention and referrals. Patients who reported high satisfaction levels were 3 times more likely to say they “definitely will” return to the pharmacy and 10 times more likely to say they “definitely will” recommend their pharmacy to others, compared with those who reported low satisfaction levels. The survey estimates that each satisfied customer could bring in $227 in additional revenue per year.

JD Power and Associates used the scores from the 2010 US National Pharmacy Study to rank leading chain, mass merchandiser, and mail-order pharmacies according to customer satisfaction. Networks of independently owned, locally operated pharmacies performed especially well, prompting a statement by the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) that stressed the importance of pharmacist-patient interaction.

"Pharmacy customer satisfaction is about the consultation that can make a world of difference in health outcomes and, of course, getting your prescription drugs on a timely basis," said NCPA president Joseph H. Harmison, PharmD.

The full report, including the rankings, is available here.

For other articles in this issue, see:

  • Following the Flu on Facebook and Twitter
  • House Expedites Bills to Prevent Rx Abuse and Diversion
  • H1N1 Tied to Risk of Seizures in Children