As talks of potential Covid-19 vaccines continue, and as the demand for flu vaccines increases throughout the country, pharmacies need to think carefully about the best approach they can deploy to manage customer care in a safe, efficient and engaging manner.
2020 hasn’t been an easy year for the retail sector, and despite their “necessary store” status, pharmacies are no exception. Footfall traffic is still noticeably down, and consumers are still largely hesitant to step foot inside pharmacies except when it’s absolutely necessary.
Going forward, pharmacies have a major challenge on their hands:
Providing a significant number of customers with flu and Covid-19 vaccines in an efficient manner while also offering a good experience and reducing their risk of catching Coronavirus in the process.
The service needs to be safe for customers and store staff – and it needs to be engaging, efficient and easy for everyone to use – pharmacies also need to factor their reputations and long-term relationships with customers into the equation.
While a Covid-19 vaccine might be an exception, our research shows that consumers aren’t willing to queue outside of pharmacies to receive service, and those that do are placing themselves at unnecessary risk.
Consumers would favour pharmacies that allow them book appointments to receive vaccines or other services ahead of time – here’s the proof:
Consumers are visiting pharmacies less than before the pandemic
Despite being classed as an essential service and, therefore, allowed to remain open throughout the lockdown periods, a large proportion of consumers are visiting pharmacies less often than they were before the Coronavirus pandemic took place, according to Qudini survey of 2,000 consumers that took place in September, 2020.
Before the Coronavirus pandemic, 65% of consumers said they visited pharmacies “often” or “sometimes”.
During the pandemic, 45% of consumers said they are visiting pharmacies less than they were before. Only 7% of consumers are visiting pharmacies more.
Most customers won’t queue at pharmacies for more than 10 minutes
The survey also highlighted how little consumers are willing to wait outside or inside of pharmacies to receive service or check out before walking out of store, with 15% willing to wait up to 3 minutes, 20% willing to wait between 3 and 7 minutes, and 25% willing to wait between 8 and ten minutes.
The top concern when waiting in queues is contracting Covid-19 (40%), while others are worried about weather conditions and not knowing how long they will have to wait (34%).
How pharmacies can efficiently deliver flu and coronavirus vaccines
In the coming months, the top challenge for pharmacies and healthcare providers will be delivering vaccinations to the masses in a safe and efficient way.
And while most consumers will be eager to receive vaccinations, pharmacies and healthcare providers should use this as an opportunity to build long-lasting relationships with consumers and encourage consumers to return for other healthcare, medical or beauty needs.
By deploying an appointment booking system, pharmacies and healthcare providers can:
- Allow customers to schedule appointments 24/7 over the web, by phone or on-site. Two appointments three weeks apart can be booked at once, minimising admin time for the business.
- Ask customers to complete a tailored questionnaire to find out if they are experiencing Coronavirus-like symptoms or request their GP’s details.
- Send SMS and email reminders to ensure customers don’t miss their appointments.
- Make it easy for doctors, nurses and receptionists to manage upcoming appointments.
- Reduce the amount of time customers spend in the clinic by having them arrive just before their appointment and leaving straight after, reducing the risk of contracting Coronavirus in the process.
- Access analytics to understand demand and demographics to plan resource levels and supplies.
Tesco’s flu jab customer booking journey
Earlier this year we worked with Tesco to allow customers to schedule NHS and privately paid flu vaccines at their nearest stores.
When completing their booking, customers were asked to fill out a brief and easy to complete questionnaire to check that customers are not experiencing Covid-19 or flu symptoms beforehand, and to ensure they don’t suffer from any allergies that may prevent them from receiving the flu jab.
With our help, the journey was safe, time efficient, engaging and professional.