Throughout her four years as a pharmacy technician, Ruth Del Rio learned why she and her fellow techs are the “unsung heroes” of a retail pharmacy.
“Technicians manage the entire process of filing a prescription up until the final check from the pharmacist,” said Ms. Del Rio. “The entire pharmacy would crumble without a strong team of capable technicians.”
Though she is relatively new to the world of retail pharmacy, Ms. Del Rio thrived in the high-pressure environment. Del Rio developed essential skills that she claims separate strong technicians from weak ones.
“I’ve worked at multiple stores, and I’ve seen how an unskilled technician can hurt the pharmacy, and worse, the customer,” said Ms. Del Rio.
Here are the six skills which led to Ms. Del Rio’s success:
Don’t rush customers
“It sounds simple, but I take my time with every customer,” said Ms. Del Rio. “My golden rule is: Don’t be in a rush.”
In Ms. Del Rio’s experience, many technicians breeze through customer interactions, hoping to fill as many prescriptions as possible. She says an abrupt approach to customer service is never productive.
“When technicians rush, patients get stressed,” said Ms. Del Rio. “Technicians need to take their time.”
Ms. Del Rio takes her time by asking her customers questions, which she says is a great way to demonstrates customer care. “It also gives customers permission to talk about their concerns,” said Ms. Del Rio. “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.”
Take an interest in customers’ lives
Ms. Del Rio advises new technicians to take a genuine interest in each customer’s life and well being.
“Learn about your patients and what’s going on in their lives,” said Ms. Del Rio. “Then, the next time you see that patient, be sure to ask them about their family or their dog.”
Expressing concern about the patient’s life and well-being demonstrates they mean more to the pharmacy than the value of their prescription. “That’s how you make the connection which leads to long-term patient relationships,” said Ms. Del Rio.
Effective communication built on trust is needed when handling a person’s medication.
“You have to be very open with your customers to be a successful tech,” said Ms. Del Rio. “It’s your job [as a technician] to make the customer feel at ease because they are putting their health in your hands."
Treat every patient with respect
Technicians are privy to the most sensitive details of their patients’ health, which is another reason why earning a customer’s trust is essential.
One way to lose a customer’s trust and business is to treat them without dignity. Ms. Del Rio has seen that scenario play out countless times, and often receives new customers who had 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,” said Ms. Del Rio. “He told me: You treated 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."
Ms. Del Rio earned a customer for life just by being gracious. Patients often deal with health problems that can be embarrassing or scary. The last thing a customer wants is to feel less than human.
Embrace new experiences and skills
Capable technicians are the backbone of a successful pharmacy, yet some may overlook their importance.
“Customer success relies on technicians because we handle most of the steps taken to fill the prescription,” said Ms. Del Rio. “If a technician can’t handle that responsibility, the pharmacy and the customer will suffer.”
When it comes to medications, pharmacy technicians must maintain the same working knowledge as the pharmacists, while also mastering the pharmacy's day-to-day processes, all while delivering excellent customer service" As if that responsibility wasn’t enough, Ms. Del Rio says technicians must continue expanding their knowledge to be effective.
“Technicians need to answer a customer’s questions without waiting for the pharmacist,” said Ms. Del Rio.
Remain calm under pressure
Ms. Del Rio believes the ability to multitask and remain calm under pressure is an essential skill.
“Technicians have customers coming in from the left and right, and each [customer] deserves your full attention,” said Ms. Del Rio.
Unfortunately, some people violate the privacy of their fellow customers. For other patients, filling a prescription can be a stressful experience. Ms. Del Rio said there are a variety of reasons customers can become disgruntled and lose their cool - but that’s not an excuse for techs to lose theirs.
“Often, customers come up to the counter, while I’m working with another customer, and it stresses everyone out,” said Ms. Del Rio. “A technician needs to be the voice of reason and say: I’m concerned with your situation, and I’ll get to you in just a second, but right now I need to finish with this person in front of you.”
Pay attention to the little details; they make a big difference
The satisfaction of Ms. Del Rio’s job comes from her patients' appreciation and the long-term relationships she has built with them.
“Watching [my customers’] health improve as I can gain their trust is the ultimate satisfaction,” said Ms. Del Rio. “As a technician, you want to make a difference in your patients’ lives, even if that means doing something special for them.”
Ms. Del Rio suggests technicians do whatever it takes to deliver memorable customer experiences.
“Even the little things go along way,” said Ms. Del Rio. “It could be as simple as taking a few extra minutes to review a prescription with a nervous patient. You see the gratitude in their face.”
See how you can offer memorable experience to your customers through our new program for Pharmacy professionals, The FLAVORx Care Force!