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Kudos to Kroger

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If you’re trying to win a price war in pharmacy retail, you’re probably going down quickly. “The real battlefront for pharmacies,” according to Dr. Gary Edwards, chief customer officer at Empathica, “is in customer service and convenience.”

A recent Consumer Insights Panel surveying more than 1,500 U.S. consumers found that Kroger ranked highest in customer service among both mass and small chain pharmacies, receiving top marks in nearly all customer service categories.

The panel sought to measure consumer perceptions, attitudes and opinions toward the retail pharmacy experience. The top six pharmacies in terms of market share -- Costco, CVS, Kroger, RiteAid, Walgreen and Walmart – were all included. Three main factors were found to drive brand advocacy for pharmacy customers: Choice – “The pharmacist provides me with options”; Service – “The store associate provided great customer service”; and Trust – “I trust my pharmacist.”

More than half of the respondents expect their pharmacy to be more than simply a prescription-filling center. Consumers who rank pharmacies high on promotion, customer focus and staff are significantly more likely to make a recommendation to friends and family. Viewed as superior in customer service, four out of five Kroger customers agree or strongly agree that they would recommend their pharmacy to family and friends. Among users of the other brands, about 40 percent would advocate for their primary pharmacy.

Edwards insists that “all pharmacy retailers have an opportunity to better manage the key moments of truth on the customer journey. This includes providing more choices, offering superior service throughout the experience and promoting loyalty programs to create deeper relationships with customers. When customers experience exceptionality in these areas, regardless of price, it definitely builds brand advocacy.”