How Virtual Queuing Improves the Pharmacy Experience
Why is Everyone Standing Around?
The act of standing in line at the pharmacy hasn’t changed much in decades. Your customers form queues for different reasons, some to submit their prescriptions, others to consult with pharmacists or see on-site clinicians, and still others to pick-up their meds. All of this waiting time could undoubtedly be better spent doing other things—like shopping for products (and increasing your revenue).
When it comes to modernizing your system, rarely will there be a more opportune time than now. With the upcoming rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, pharmacies will experience a tipping point for their queuing systems—one that can improve both your in-store operations and your customer experience.
We’re all familiar with physically queuing at the pharmacy: plant your feet and stay in line. We’re also familiar with what people now do when they stand in line: they take out their phones. And herein lies the paradigm change offered by virtual queuing: what if, instead of planting feet, you leveraged the smart devices in everyone’s hands?
Widespread adoption across sectors
Whether you’re the owner of an independent drug store or the chief operating officer of a chain, you’ve most likely experienced virtual queuing yourself. The technology is used widely across telecom, retail banking, healthcare and government agencies, including DMVs and passport agencies.
The process is remarkably simple: enter your contact information at a kiosk, scan a QR code or text your name to a number posted on a sign, website, or company app. Once name and phone number are entered into the system, you are part of a real-time ongoing conversation to get your needs taken care of and make your experience memorably positive.
The pharmacy setting is ripe for queuing innovation
It’s not uncommon for your pharmacy customers to spend time on more than one line. Consider the situation of someone who is prescribed a medicine that’s administered via injection—and it’s their first time using it. Not only do they need their prescription filled, but they also need a pharmacy professional to explain how the injection works, answer any questions, and provide peace of mind. This customer needs to stand on two lines: first to pick-up their medication, and again for the professional consultation. If the prescription wasn’t called in and they have to drop off the script in-store, it could even be three lines.
Virtual queuing removes friction and eliminates wasted time. There’s no waiting in front of a window, or waiting next to other customers (and their children) who could be ill and contagious.
Moreover, rather than assessing your customers’ needs at each step, queue management technology enables you to probe deeper into each customer’s specific needs right at sign-in: What are you here for? Will you need a consultation?
In fact, because queue management software facilitates all this information at the very onset of a store visit—and it’s all digital—you can segment your customers by their needs. Imagine a pick-up & consult window for those that need it, and an express window for those just picking up. Wisk those simple pick-ups quickly through, and thoughtfully and respectfully manage the time for those with more complex needs. Queuing management technology electronically notifies every customer exactly how long their wait will be so that they can plan their visit and their time accordingly.
Now, depending on wait length, some customers may decide to come back at a less busy time, wait in their car, or go for a cup of coffee. These situations are far from being considered a fail; they should be viewed as providing a more productive and transparent customer experience, one that engenders greater customer loyalty.
Creating more efficiencies at point of pick-up
The benefits of queuing technology go beyond just what happens with your customers. It creates efficiencies behind the counter too. Because clerks know exactly who is in the queue, they can gather all prescriptions at once rather than retrieving medicines one at a time, shaving minutes off each transaction.
From a revenue generation standpoint, knowing who is in your store enables you to effectively market to them. You can send Mrs. Jones a coupon for Halloween candy, alert Mr. Smith to the sale on men’s grooming products, and give every customer $2 off the purchase of salon-quality hair products. In doing so, you are rewarding your customers’ patronage and maximizing your profit per visit.
Leveraging data and analytics
Data is the engine behind all modern businesses, and its impact extends across the pharmacy setting. Rather than rely on gut or anecdotal reporting, queuing technology offers key data metrics: what’s the average wait time, when are peak and slow periods, how many customers bail?
As soon as customers enter your store and your digital queuing system, you can track their every minute. When were they called for service? How many times did they need to be called? How long did it take to complete service? Leverage this data for determining staffing levels, for analyzing staff performance, for uncovering training issues. What’s more, pre-set parameters can alert front-line service agents that the person who was just added to the pharmacy queue is a loyalty member VIP.
Perhaps the greatest benefit is not just looking at the data historically, but in real-time. If your data is telling you there are 12 people standing in line for their prescriptions, you know you need to take immediate action. If wait times are exceeding your targeted goal, you can go to your game plan, whether that means adding more staff, sending a discount coupon in gratitude for their patience, or some other strategy.
This is no time to just stand around. Lavi Industries’ Qtrac Virtual Queuing and Appointment Scheduling technology can help to optimize your pharmacy service and your customers’ experience.
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