Consumers gave supermarket pharmacies the highest marks and Wegmans Food Markets finished with the best score overall in the J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Pharmacy Study.
The annual survey, which polled 12,059 customers who filled or refilled a prescription in the previous three months, measures pharmacy customer satisfaction with chain drug, supermarket, mass merchant and mail-order pharmacies using a 1,000-point scale. Areas examined include prescription ordering, cost competitiveness, pharmacists, non-pharmacist staff, prescription pickup, the store and prescription delivery.
Wegmans ranked No. 1 in the supermarket category and among all companies with a pharmacy customer satisfaction score of 915. That beat the Rochester, N.Y.-based food and drug retailer’s score of 906 last year, when it also posted the highest overall mark.
As in the last two J.D. Power pharmacy studies, the supermarket segment had the highest overall satisfaction rating in 2019 with an average score of 871, up from 863 in 2018 and besting chain drugstores (842), mass merchants (853) and mail order (867) this year. Supermarket pharmacies accounted for six of the top 10 brick-and-mortar players.
According to Greg Truex, managing director of health intelligence at J.D. Power, supermarkets have provided a customer-friendly experience in their pharmacies.
“Supermarkets continue to consistently execute on processes and behaviors that exceed health consumer expectations,” Truex said in comments to Supermarket News. “Health consumers using supermarkets experience less problems when dropping off or filling a prescription, and when health consumers experience a problem, it is generally fixed by the pharmacy at the point of sale.”
Rounding out the top 10 in brick-and-mortar pharmacies were Good Neighbor Pharmacy (914), Publix (897), Winn-Dixie (896), H-E-B (894), Health Mart (893), Sam’s Club (890), ShopRite (886), Costco (879) and Albertsons (875).
Other supermarkets rated in pharmacy customer satisfaction this year by J.D. Power included Stop & Shop (867), Hy-Vee (863), Fry’s (862), Kroger (860), King Soopers (852), Giant (850), Giant Eagle (848) and Safeway (837).
In JDPower.com's Power Circle Ratings for consumers, Wegmans scored five circles, signifying that the chain is "among the best" in pharmacy customer satisfaction. “These are remarkable results that demonstrate the importance of the trusted relationships our dedicated and caring pharmacy employees have built with our customers,” John Carlo, senior vice president of pharmacy at Wegmans, said in a statement. “I am proud and very grateful for all they do to make a difference.”
Pharmacy customers rated the nation’s biggest drugstore chains — Walgreens (840) and CVS Pharmacy (834) — well below supermarket pharmacies in terms of satisfaction. Independent pharmacy networks Good Neighbor (914) and Health Mart (893) led the chain drug store segment, with Rite Aid (865) also exceeding the category’s average score.
Walmart, the third-largest U.S. pharmacy retailer, posted below-average score (837) in the mass merchant pharmacy segment. Sam’s Club and Costco led with respective scores of 890 and 879, while CVS Pharmacy inside Target’s mark of 869 topped the category’s 853 average score.
"As technology companies promise to change the way Americans address their pharmacy needs, our data suggests that changing such entrenched behavior will be an uphill battle," Truex said in a statement on the study’s results.
Among its findings, J.D. Power noted that pharmacy patients prefer face-to-face interaction. Of pharmacy customers who communicate with the pharmacist and staff, 89% said they do so in-person, although those who use email or online chat to interact with the pharmacist or staff are equally or more satisfied. What’s more, customers exhibit high satisfaction in deeper discussions with pharmacists. Satisfaction with the pharmacist exceeds 940 when pharmacists cover four or more topics with the patient during their interaction, compared with 884 for one topic and 917 for two topics.
"Customers enjoy visiting their brick-and-mortar pharmacy, and they get a great deal of satisfaction from speaking directly with pharmacists,” Truex explained. “However, the potential for technology disruption is there. Although the frequency of use of digital solutions is low, early adopters are showing high levels of satisfaction."
Pharmacy customers today, too, are taking advantage of other available health services. J.D. Power found that 42% of customers aware of their pharmacy's health and wellness services have used one in the past year, and those who have done so spent 12.5% more on their most recent prescription order. Still, in 2019, significantly fewer health and wellness customers received a prescription in their use of these health services versus in 2018.
In a similar trend, pharmacy customers using mobile app express a higher level of satisfaction, but growth in usage of these apps is static. According to J.D. Power, just 20% of customers use a pharmacy's mobile app, and those who did had satisfaction scores up to 23 points higher than those who didn’t.
*Editor's Note: Article updated with Wegmans comment.