Sep 06, 2022

5 Tips for Dealing With an Angry Pharmacy Customer

All pharmacists and pharmacy technicians experience an interaction with an upset customer from time to time. 

Maybe their medication needs preauthorization from their insurance company, their copay has doubled, or they had to wait a little longer than usual due to pharmacy staffing shortages. Or, it could have nothing to do with the pharmacy, and they are just having a bad day.

Whatever the case, they are furious and frustrated. As a pharmacist or pharmacy tech, you must respond quickly to defuse the situation while offering exceptional customer service. 

Sound stressful? It doesn't have to be by utilizing these 5 tips for dealing with an angry pharmacy customer. 

Pharmacy customer service training

Drug Topicscompleted a survey to find out where pharmacists received training on how to work with customers. The survey found that:

  • 32% learned on the job from other pharmacists

  • Around 62% learned from other places (like previous non-pharmacy jobs) 

  • Less than 4% received training in pharmacy school

In addition, the survey also found that approximately 1/3 of those pharmacists didn't feel sufficiently trained to deal with demanding customers. 

How to deal with an angry pharmacy customer

Responding to an upset customer can make all the difference in the world on the final outcome. These tips will empower your pharmacy team to handle an angry client while remaining professional and knowledgeable. 

Show empathy

When a customer comes in irate, it can be hard to keep your cool. However, put yourself in their shoes and acknowledge their feelings. 

Showing empathy toward what is causing their frustration shows them that you genuinely care and understand their concerns. What's the best way to be empathic with an upset customer?

  • Practice active listening. Don't just hear what they are saying, but listen with the intent to understand. Remember, sometimes people just want to be heard. 

  • Echo that you understand their feelings by saying things like, "I feel your frustrations, and I am going to help in any way I can." 

  • Be present. Working in a pharmacy usually means you're consistently busy. But one of the best things you can do to help an angry customer is to give them your full attention. 

  • Be mindful of your body language. Direct eye contact, arms uncrossed, and standing/sitting with good posture are all critical non-verbal ways to communicate with a customer experiencing conflict. 

Don't be dismissive

Telling upset customers things like they have no reason to be angry or there is nothing you can do, is a guaranteed way to make the situation go from bad to worse. 

When someone is angry, you want to calm them down, not get them more upset. Instead, acknowledge how they are feeling by repeating their concerns. For example, "I can see that you are mad because your insurance company has changed your copay for this medication."

Always offer a solution 

Even if you can't fix the overall problem, always suggest next steps. Offering a solution shows your customer you're serious about resolving their concerns and issues. 

Some solutions might be:

  • Transferring their prescription to another pharmacy close by that has it in stock.

  • Going up the chain of command with their feedback

  • Suggesting resources that may help reduce the costs of their medications. (See how your pharmacy can partner with Carecard to help your customers)

Remain calm

Easier said than done, especially when someone is raising their voice at you. Take a deep breath and remind yourself this situation is not personal. 

Your attitude will likely rub off on your customer when you stay calm. The worst thing you can do is become agitated, which will only elevate the tension.

Protect yourself- physically and legally 

An angry customer usually gets verbally loud and stops with that. However, you must protect yourself and your staff if they attempt to get physical. 

  • Put space between your customer and you.

  • Try to stand near a door in case you need to exit the room or behind the counter if you need to duck.

  • Don't hesitate to ask them to leave the pharmacy or to call security or the police if you aren't able to calm them down and they're verbally assaulting you. 

Legal protection is equally as crucial as physical protection. Be mindful during and after your interaction by: 

  • Thoroughly document the incident. Be as detailed as possible, including your interaction with the customer and what you did to try to fix the issue. 

  • Avoid over-sharing or justifying the problem. An angry customer may try to use your words against you down the road. 

Final thoughts

As with any customer service-based business, working in a pharmacy will bring in a fair share of angry, frustrated, and upset people.

Remaining calm, actively listening, acknowledging your customer's feelings, and working together to find a resolution can turn a horrible situation into a positive one. 

At CareCard, our mission is to help make prescription payments more affordable, saving members up to 85% on prescription drugs and medications. 

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