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Publix Super Markets and Sam's Club took top spots on J.D. Power 2014 Pharmacy Study, based on responses from pharmacy customers who filled a new prescription or refilled one during the three months prior to the survey period.
Publix ranked highest in the supermarket segment, receiving a score of 886 on a 1,000-point scale, while Sam’s Club, with a score of 865, was first in the mass-merchandiser segment.
In the study's other segments, Good Neighbor Pharmacy came in first among chain drug store pharmacies, as did Kaiser Permanente Mail Pharmacy among mail-order pharmacies.
J.D. Power's survey found that overall satisfaction with chain drug store (840), supermarket (843) and mail-order (822) pharmacies grew in 2014 — up year-over-year by 12, 8 and 25 points, respectively — although satisfaction with mass-merchandiser pharmacies (830) remained relatively even with 2013. The gap in satisfaction between brick-and-mortar and mail-order remained stable year-over-year, at 25 points.
Interestingly, the importance of consumer interaction with a pharmacist increased across the four pharmacy segments in 2014; satisfaction improved considerably when pharmacists ensured a continuous supply of medicine, clearly explained the potential side effects of medication or any costs that might be incurred, and provided access to health-and-wellness resources. The study further found that in brick-and-mortar stores, speaking to a pharmacist boosted store spending.
"For brick-and-mortar pharmacies, ensuring pharmacists are directly interacting with customers is one of the keys to delivering a satisfactory experience," said Rick Johnson, director of the healthcare practice at Westlake Village, Calif.-based J.D. Power. "For mail-order pharmacies, it's critical that customers have easy access to a pharmacist through such channels as a phone number that is easy to access and online chat. However, only one in 25 customers initiate a conversation with a pharmacist in a brick-and-mortar store, so it's essential for staff to ask customers if they would like to speak with a pharmacist. In the mail-order segment, just one in 10 customers interact with a pharmacist, and satisfaction is high among those who use the chat feature."
Pharmacist satisfaction was found to be highest in the chain drug store segment (883), followed by the supermarket (877) and mass-merchandiser (864) segments. Non-pharmacist staff satisfaction was highest among supermarket pharmacies (847), followed by chain drug store (841) and mass-merchandiser (820) pharmacies.
Across pharmacy segments, the percentages of customers who reported running out of medication before they could refill it were 13 percent for chain drug stores; 14 percent for supermarket pharmacies; 15 percent for mass merchandisers; and 10 percent for mail order pharmacies.
Additionally, having an in-store clinic or wellness center increased satisfaction with brick-and-mortar pharmacies by 42 points, increased the likelihood that customers would say that they "strongly agree" that they feel loyal to their pharmacy by six percentage points, and led to a larger basket of goods purchased in the store by 8 percentage points.
Customer satisfaction with brick-and-mortar pharmacies was measured across five factors: prescription ordering, store, cost competitiveness, non-pharmacist staff, and pharmacist. The study, now in its seventh year, was fielded between June and July 2014.
Maria Brous, director of media and community relations at Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix, said, "Being recognized by our pharmacy customers in this manner validates our focus on the customer experience within our stores."
The grocer pointed out that it was the fifth straight year that its pharmacies ranked highest in overall satisfaction in the supermarket segment of the study, which also found that Publix outperformed or performed on par with 11 of 12 key performance indicators, with customers more likely to return, recommend and feel most loyal to its pharmacies.