I recently had an experience with a national retail pharmacy that got me wondering: would an independent pharmacy have handled my situation differently?
As a life-long, type one diabetic, I take an insulin shot every day, every time I eat. Without a shot, my body cannot function and it could prove fatal. I was going out of town the following week and noticed I was low on insulin. My insulin is not a stock item and usually takes a few days to fill because it has to be ordered from a wholesaler. I called the pharmacy’s IVR line on Wednesday and ordered a refill. I supplied a phone number in case of a problem and the IVR stated the prescription would be ready Friday.
When I went to pick it up Saturday, a pharmacy tech informed me that their distributor no longer carries the insulin and she could order it from another. I couldn’t help but wonder two things. First, why hasn’t this already happened? It doesn’t matter to me which distributor supplies medicine. My price is the same. And second, if there was a problem, why didn’t they call? They had my number. Regardless, I told the tech they could order it but I needed the insulin the next day.
At this, she said she couldn’t get the insulin until Monday because it’s not stocked and the wholesaler doesn’t deliver weekends. She offered to transfer my prescription to another pharmacy. Frustrated, because I’d ordered the refill in plenty of time to avoid this scenario, what happened next made the whole event worse.
Rather than make an effort to correct a customer service lapse, I felt patronized and it really struck a nerve.
This scenario is what sets independent pharmacies apart from volume-driven big box retailers. I work with independent pharmacies that take the extra step and understand, no matter how many customers they have, each one is important.
We all are human. Things happen. But it’s the consideration and value placed on another human being that makes a difference. If you go to a big box pharmacy, look behind the counter. If you were in an independent pharmacy, the person standing behind that counter is probably the business owner. And I’ll bet you a thousand $4 prescriptions, he cares if you come back to his pharmacy.