Ruth Del Rio, a Pharmacy Technician, has spent the last four years working at one of the largest and most successful pharmacy chains in the country. Ruth Del Rio believes technicians are the backbone of any successful retail pharmacy.
“Technicians manage the entire process of filing a prescription up until the final check from the pharmacist, which means they need to know everything about the patient’s medication all while interfacing with the customer,” said Ms. Del Rio.
“Pharmacy technicians are the unsung heroes of customer service,” said Ms. Del Rio
What’s so satisfying about being a pharmacy technician?
Ruth Del Rio: The satisfaction I get from the job is the gratitude from the patients. Sometimes I’ll have patients come into my store after having a bad experience at other pharmacies. On one occasion I worked with a gentleman who told me that a particular pharmacy didn’t treat him like a human being because of the medication he was attempting to fill. He’s just trying to get his medication and deal with his health problem. He told me: “You treat me with respect and as a human being. You didn’t treat me like a criminal or like I was doing something wrong. You told me upfront what to expect, and it made me feel seen.”
The satisfaction comes from my patients' appreciation and the long-term relationships I've built with them. Watching their health improve as I can gain their trust is the ultimate satisfaction. As a technician, you want to make a difference in your patients’ lives, even if that means doing something special for them. Whatever it takes, even the little things - if they need another vile, or need a few extra minutes to review a prescription - you see the gratitude in their face. It’s simple but so satisfying.
What’s one-thing customers or pharmacists often overlook or misunderstand about the job of a pharmacy technician?
Ruth Del Rio: The responsibility! A lot of people think the responsibility lies strictly with the pharmacist, but it doesn’t. Customer success relies a lot on the technicians because we handle most of the steps taken to fill the prescription. If a technician doesn’t want to or can’t handle that responsibility, the whole team will suffer, and the customer will suffer. It’s hard to work with somebody like that, which is why responsible and capable technicians are the secret to a successful pharmacy.
Often customers and even pharmacy staff overlook the importance of a technician. They’ll say things like: “you’re just a technician, what do you know? I need to speak with the pharmacist.” The irony is we do know what’s going on. Technicians have almost the same working knowledge [of prescriptions] as the pharmacists. We need to be able to answer our customers’ questions without waiting for the pharmacist. We have to face the customers and tell them, hey we can or can’t do something.
How do you show your customers that you care about them and their well being?
Ruth Del Rio: It sounds simple, but I take my time with every customer. My golden rule is: "don’t be in a rush." A lot of technicians are in a rush, which stresses out the patient. You need to take your time. Asking questions is a great way to show customers you care about them. It also gives patients who are otherwise shy permission to talk about their concerns or ask questions about the medications. So I always ask: “How can I help you?” or “What else can I help you with?” Doing so proves the patient is not just another customer in the line.
If I’m training a new technician, I advise them to take an interest in their customer's life and well being. Learn about your patients and what’s going on in their lives. Next time you see that patient ask them about their family or their dog. The patients see you care about them and that they mean more to you than just the value of their prescription. That’s how you make the connection which leads to long-term patient relationships