Mail-Order Pharmacies See Growth in Customer Satisfaction, But Lag Behind Brick-and-Mortar Counterparts

September 25, 2014
Katie Eder, Senior Editor

Although mail-order pharmacies registered the most growth in overall pharmacy customer satisfaction from 2013, patients are still significantly more pleased with their interactions at brick-and-mortar pharmacies.

Although mail-order pharmacies registered the most growth in overall pharmacy customer satisfaction from 2013, patients are still significantly more pleased with their interactions at brick-and-mortar pharmacies, according to the J.D. Power 2014 US Pharmacy Study released today.

Based on responses from nearly 14,000 pharmacy customers who filled a new prescription or refilled an existing prescription in the 3 months prior to taking the survey, the eighth-annual report scored customer satisfaction with mail-order pharmacies and brick-and-mortar pharmacies—including supermarket pharmacies, mass merchandiser pharmacies, and chain drug stores—on a 1000-point scale.

Satisfaction with mail-order pharmacies was ranked across cost competitiveness, prescription delivery, prescription ordering process, and customer service experience, while satisfaction with brick-and-mortar pharmacies was measured according to prescription ordering, store, cost competitiveness, non-pharmacist staff, and pharmacist.

According to the report, overall customer satisfaction increased year-over-year by 12 points for chains (840) and 8 points for supermarkets (843) while remaining relatively stable for mass merchandizers (830) from last year’s results. Though overall satisfaction increased significantly by 25 points for mail-order pharmacies (822) from 2013, their brick-and-mortar counterparts still had a 25-point advantage in average customer satisfaction—a gap that remained stable year-over-year.

Among brick-and-mortar pharmacies, supermarket pharmacies received better marks on customer satisfaction (843) than chains (840) and mass merchandizers (830). Publix (886) ranked the highest in the supermarket segment for the fifth consecutive year, while Good Neighbor Pharmacy (884) earned top marks in the chain category, and Sam’s Club (865) scored the best among mass merchandizers.

“For brick-and-mortar pharmacies, ensuring pharmacists are directly interacting with customers is one of the keys to delivering a satisfactory experience,” said Rick Johnson, senior director of the health care practice at J.D. Power, in a press release. “However, only 1 in 25 customers initiate a conversation with a pharmacist in a brick-and-mortar store, so it’s essential for staff to ask customers if they would like to speak with a pharmacist.”

For the sixth consecutive year, Kaiser Permanente Mail Pharmacy (865) ranked the highest in the mail-order segment, once again followed by Humana Right SourceRx (862) and Walgreens Mail Service (844).

“For mail-order pharmacies, it’s critical that customers have easy access to a pharmacist through such channels as a phone number that is easy to access and online chat,” Johnson said in the press release. “In (this) segment, just 1 in 10 customers interact with a pharmacist, and satisfaction is high among those who use the chat feature.”