Customer centred pharmacies and quality service – “Farmacia news” 05/2006

Customer Centred Pharmacies and Quality Service –
What Being a Pharmacist Is All About

Article published in “Farmacia news”n°5/2006

Dr Giancarlo Calderara opened his pharmacy in 1992 and had is completely renovated and refurbished in the spring of 2005.

Dr Calderara, what principles informed the layout of your pharmacy, both when it first opened in 14 years ago and recently when you decided to renovate and refurbish it?

“Before open the pharmacy in 1992 I had worked as in management and marketing for two large pharmaceutical companies, dealing with cardiovascular drugs. The pharmacy was a product of both my experience as a manager and my profession. It combines both high quality products and services (with a particular emphasis on services dealing with cardiovascular problems) with good management and a dynamic marketing strategy. These underlying values have lead to the creation of a pharmacy that is a place where people can get access to health services and ask advice about all kinds of health issues, safe in the knowledge that all information comes from a trusted professional.

How did the renovation and refurbishment of your pharmacy make this a reality?

“Together with Sartoretto, we designed a rational and function layout for the pharmacy that transmitted a sense of professionalism and trust as well as being bright, well appointed and individual. The idea was to create a space where customers felt at ease and could speak with us in privacy.

I wanted a very customer centred pharmacy and I asked Sartoretto for a design that was very personalised, using materials and decorative elements that linked the pharmacy to the local areas. This was done splendidly as they used local stone and created a stained glass panel depicting a famous waterfall located nearby as well as a counter with a trompe oeil depicting my house and my family tree. I want my customers to feel at home when they walk in here and think of me as their “family pharmacist”. Such an approach is very popular and is vital in such as small town as ours. Everyone knows everyone and personal relationships are really important, making your ability to listen and give advice even more fundamental to making a pharmacy successful. However, you must also consider than our clientele is periodically a lot more varied as this area is very touristy too.

How your clientele’s diversity affected the pharmacy’s organisation?

“We need to find a compromise that satisfied both our customers who lived in this small rural town whom we had long-standing relationships and the passing customers who were always new faces and often very different.

First of all, we made sure that it is easy to find your way around pharmacy and get exactly what you are looking for without having to wander around or ask for help. All of the products sectors are spaced out, easy to recognise, and with fittings that display the products in a rational and functional way. The same rationale also informed the design of service area’s layout.

How are you going to develop your pharmacy in the future?

“As the situation is rather fluid at the moment, its difficult to know exactly in which direction pharmacies are going to develop. The secret to future success is to recognise the direction in which things are heading and start to develop along those lines before you get left behind. Personally speaking, I think we must not loose sight of the importance of insisting on high quality in everything that we do. Professionalism, quality services, efficient management and modern marketing strategies are key.

However, the customer is also of fundamental important for the further. Pharmacies must be customer centred and designed especially to cater to consumer’s needs. When finding solutions to problems, we must always put the customer first, so that they will come to consider the pharmacist as fundamental for their good health and irreplaceable, a highly qualified professional who caters to their needs and satisfies them 100%, choosing the best value and most effective products to solve their problems as well as offering pearls of wisdom which nobody else is able to provide.”

Giovanni Bernuzzi

Today, our team is made up of 5 persons including myself – three qualified pharmacists, a shop assistant and my wife who deals with admin. There are three separate counters, one for each pharmacist, so that we can serve customers at the same time without having to talk over each other and compromising a customer’s privacy. The natural products sector also has its own counter, which is growing fast and will be expanded shortly, when we find someone who is specialised in complementary therapies.

What range of products do you sell?

“We try to keep well stocked with all prescription drugs and pharmaceutical products in order to be able to satisfy any prescription request. A full range of other product types is also available, although we select the best quality products and those which are most cost effective within each product category.

We have developed the natural, homeopathic and dermocosmetic sectors and and intent to further extend the range of of natural products on sale. We also offer a wide selection of medical equipment as well as customer service and advice. Among the many services we provide, I think measuring blood pressure, blood tests, food allergy and intolerance tests are some of the most popular. We are going to develop these further as we have more space. Food allergies and intolerance are become increasing important and we have a dedicated sector for sufferers of gluten and other food allergies.

With more space to play with, we also created information points were our customers can pick up pamphlets about major health issues.”

What are the pharmacy’s dimensions now it has been renovated?

“The pharmacy has 3 floor and a total surface area of around 250 sq. m., 180 sq. m. of which is used for the retail area while the remained 70 is used for storage, office space and a modern dispensary and laboratory with the latest equipment. These areas are located in the basement while the retail area is located on the ground and first floor. Furthermore, the whole renovated and refit was done in such as way to allow us to adapt the future challenges, install new equipment and offer new services.