“Thank you for calling [insert business name here]. For account information, please press one. To make changes to your account settings, please press two. To check your account balance, please press three. To pay your account balance, please press four…” I could continue on for the remaining six numbers, but I’m sure by now you already hear that cool voice, instructing you to press various numbers in that automated tone and know where I’m going with this.
We’ve all encountered an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system at one time or another, whether you were paying a bill, checking the closing times of a local store, or calling for technical support. So many companies have them, and they are not all alike. Some of the more primitive types (like the example from above) instruct the caller to select a number from their menu that correlates with their reason for calling. Other more advanced systems ask you to speak, even request brief descriptions of your reason for calling before directing you to a human representative.
Among independent pharmacy owners, there is some disagreement on whether having an IVR is good for business.
Most who have concerns worry that utilizing one of these systems will remove the personal feeling of doing business with their pharmacy. It’s likely that if you’ve been answering the phone in your store for years, someone has commented on how nice it is to have a person on the other end of the line.
This is especially common in older patients, who are accustomed to explaining their problem to a person and more easily lose their patience with technology. After all, IVRs can be a labyrinth of menu options, where selecting one option just leads you to another menu full of options.
While a personal touch is great, there are benefits to having an IVR system for your pharmacy.
Your phone won’t ring off the hook, all day, every day. If you are answering your phone manually, chances are several times a day you or a staff member must stop what you’re doing to pick up the phone. Not only does this interrupt your workflow and decrease productivity, this can be very off-putting to any patient you’re currently interacting with.
An IVR system would answer that call for you and direct the caller based on their needs, only interrupting you if you’re the person they need to speak with.
Refills will be simpler and more convenient. If you don’t have an alternate way for patients to order refills (i.e. a web portal or mobile app) all of those requests must be taken down by a staff member over the phone and input into the computer system. However, with an IVR your patients can follow the prompt and enter the Rx number to request a refill.
If your pharmacy software is compatible with your IVR, the refill requests will be sent directly to your refill queue. This gives your patients the convenience of calling anytime to submit refills or validate the status of the refill they submitted. Refills that are submitted overnight are queued and waiting on you in the morning.
If you think that having an IVR system in your pharmacy could be beneficial but are still concerned about the effects it could have on the atmosphere of your business, we've come up with some best practices for setting up your IVR that may alleviate some of your concerns.
Did you attend Idea Exchange 2016? If so, you may recognize these IVR providers that exhibited during our conference. They integrate with WinRx for a streamlined user experience.