Situation Analysis- Pharma Industry

The retail pharmacy industry in Slovakia faced huge competition, owing to the presence of a large number of pharmacies [2005 pharmacies, as of 2011, or roughly one pharmacy for every 2683 Inhabitants]. Stiff guidelines and directives Issued by the Ministry of Health, wherein it was required that every pharmacy have a “responsible pharmacist”, and only one pharmacy be operated per license, led to the rampant mushrooming of the retail pharmacy outlets throughout Slovakia. Ender such stiff competition, pharmacies differentiated themselves on the basis of cosmetic and hygiene product selection, and more Importantly, the level of customer service hat they provided. The Summary Group, a growing pharmacy chain, established In 1998, fell short on counts of customer service provided by their pharmacists and the soft skills possessed by them. Though the pharmacists had all the technical know- how related to the drugs and medications, they still needed some training when it came to serving the customers as the front-line people heading the pharmacies.

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Linda Doling, the Human Resources manager at the Summary Group realized that the need of the hour was to train the employees to enhance customer service ND support, so as to sustain themselves In the fiercely competitive pharmacy industry. The pharmacists’ role no longer remained merely that of a technically equipped person when it came to medication; it was more than that. The role of the pharmacist was evolving, as the growing customer needs placed more emphasis on “serving” and “satisfying” customers, along with providing customers with advice and consultation as and when required.

Moreover, the retail drugstore format in Slovakia was shifting towards that of an open-space, self-service one, a deviation from the earlier closed-space format. Summary had already gone ahead with and it generated favorable responses from the customers under its “Mystery Shopping” initiative. Summary striver to live up to its mission of being a long-time favorite and the most-in-demand-pharmacy renowned for its world class professionals, replete with excellent customer service.

They also believed in having an “employee friendly organizational culture, with the required training and development programs offered to employees so as to help them complete their twenty credits training program every year. However, to differentiate and sustain Itself, summary added to bridge the skill gap in its pharmacists, when it came to sales, communication, insufficiencies in detecting customers’ needs, providing information about offered products, prices, et al.

Linda faces a challenge in determining how to go about modifying the training and development curriculum to accommodate the continual training of the employees that was required to keep them abreast of all the technical developments, as well as bring about necessary communication and interpersonal skills, flexibility and adaptability in meeting the market trends in customer demands and serve them as personal advisors and health consultants.

She wanted to bring about a learning culture in the organization, by way of training and development that would combine “on the Job” training with “off the Job” training sessions, and Increase employee motivation and satisfaction and reduce turnover rate. The competency based approach was Identified wherein the competencies be developed to hone those competencies. With the current customer service index of 72% upping the ante was required if Summary wished to hold on to its existing customer base and expand further. However financial and time constraints also had to be considered and a cost- benefit trade-off was required to be made.