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J.D. Power study: Retail pharmacy customer satisfaction surges as digital engagement keeps rising

Overall, 83% of brick-and-mortar pharmacy customers indicate an interest in receiving health and wellness services at their pharmacy.

As the pharmacy business continues its transformation from the corner drug store to a multi-channel hub of healthcare services and digital tools, one thing has not changed: personal interactions with pharmacy staff are the key to enduring customer satisfaction. According to the J.D. Power 2023 U.S. Pharmacy Study, brick-and-mortar pharmacies are delivering on that promise of personalized attention, contributing to a 6-point rise in overall customer satisfaction this year (on a 1,000-point scale). On the mail order side, overall satisfaction is up, too, but so is the likelihood of switching providers.

“As pharmacies continue to take on a more significant role in healthcare delivery and ongoing care management, the pharmacist has become a critical link in the healthcare continuum,” said Christopher Lis, managing director of global healthcare intelligence at J.D. Power. “Customers are rewarding pharmacies that deliver personalized service, including interactions where communications occur on a first-name basis and when the pharmacist is available to answer questions. These elements of personalized service are moments of truth to help brick-and-mortar pharmacies forge meaningful connections with customers. Mail order pharmacies, by contrast, are less likely to have these personal connections and, in turn, are seeing declines in customer loyalty.”

[Read more: J.D. Power study: Innovations at retail pharmacies accelerate]

Following are some of the key findings of the 2023 study:

• Long live the friendly neighborhood pharmacist: While the industry has evolved far beyond the days of Norman Rockwell’s famous “Pharmacist” painting, the idea of the neighborhood pharmacist as an essential member of the community is alive and well. Overall satisfaction is 102 points higher among customers who say they know their pharmacist by name, and 93 points higher among those who say they know pharmacy staff or technicians by name.

• Interest in health and wellness services increases: Overall, 83% of brick-and-mortar pharmacy customers indicate an interest in receiving health and wellness services at their pharmacy, up three percentage points from 2022. Top services include vaccinations or flu shots (50%); health screenings (46%); and COVID-19 testing (42%).

• Disruption afoot in mail order space: While overall satisfaction in the mail order pharmacy segment is up a significant 9 points this year, customer loyalty is declining. Some 18% of mail order customers say they “definitely will” or “probably will” switch pharmacies in the next 12 months, up from 14% in 2022. Top reasons for switching include employer insurance requiring a change (31%); medication is too expensive (24%); and want flexible pick-up options (21%).

• Digital engagement increases: Brick-and-mortar pharmacies are seeing increases in digital e engagement. In 2022, 76% of customers said they relied on digital technologies to interact with their pharmacy. This year, 81% of customers say they use digital technology. Among mail order pharmacy customers, 89% now rely on digital technology to interact with their pharmacy, up from 84% in 2022. Top digital channels used by mail order customers are pharmacy websites (59%); mobile apps (34%); and text messages (29%).

[Read more: These chains topped J.D. Power's 2021 rankings as 51% of shoppers used pharmacy health services]

Study Rankings

  • Good Neighbor Pharmacy ranks highest among brick-and-mortar chain drug store pharmacies for a seventh consecutive year, with a score of 793. Health Mart (770) ranks second and Rite Aid Pharmacy ranks third (680).
  • Sam’s Club ranks highest among brick-and-mortar mass merchandiser pharmacies for an eighth consecutive year, with a score of 788. Costco (755) ranks second.
  • H-E-B ranks highest among brick-and-mortar supermarket pharmacies for a third consecutive year, with a score of 760. Wegmans (753) ranks second and Publix (744) ranks third.
  • Kaiser Permanente Pharmacy ranks highest in the mail order segment, with a score of 748. PillPack (an Amazon Company) (709) ranks second and Express Scripts Pharmacy (699) ranks third.

The U.S. Pharmacy Study, now in its 15th year, measures customer satisfaction with brick-and-mortar and mail order pharmacies. The 2023 study is based on responses from 12,396 pharmacy customers who filled a prescription within the past 12 months and was fielded from August 2022 through May 2023.

For more information about the U.S. Pharmacy Study, visit online here.

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