When it comes to your trusted pharmacist, nothing is as important as personal contact. And that's exactly what Apotheek Blindeman believes in. For over 30 years, loyal customers have been able to come to Annemie van de Rostyne with their ailments. But time hasn't stood still here either. Behold the beautifully renovated business in Ghent. The wonderfully incorporated Bringme Box is without a doubt the crowning glory.
Half a year ago, Annemie passed the torch to her daughter, Ciska Blinderman. We talked with mother and daughter about tradition and innovation. Because a modern pharmacy with a long-standing reputation needs a state of the art service that respects the past. We're very curious how Bringme will fit into the picture.
Where did you get the idea to use Bringme?
Ciska: When we were on holiday in France we saw a vending machine where patients could buy products that don't require a prescription after business hours, sort of like a drinks or candy dispenser. Even then we thought it would be a good idea to integrate this concept in our pharmacy. Last year in August, my dad read an article about Bringme in De Tijd and said (Annemie and Ciska in unison), “That's it!" Our pharmacy has a very sleek, modern interior, so Bringme fit the bill perfectly. In order to integrate the box perfectly, we changed our remodeling plans. We had the walls made in the same style so everything fits together as a whole. Our front door and the take-away slot for the night watch are invisible because they're hidden away in similar panels.
How are you using the Bringme Box for patients?
Ciska: A woman came by this morning and we hadn't received her order yet. She has to work late for the rest of the week and won't be able to pick it up. So we'll put it in the Bringme Box. She'll be able to collect it whenever it suits her and pay afterwards. This way she'll at least have the order when she needs it. There are also often customers who need baby food urgently. Luckily that also fits in the box, which of course is nice for parents with busy lives. The ability to set a time limit is a handy feature of the Bringme Box. Of course some things can't stay in the box for too long.
How do you use the Bringme Box to improve your customer service?
Annemie: Helping our customers is indeed our first and foremost goal. Life is changing and people are always busy, so this is how we try to take that into account. We hope to make things easier for them by offering them the possibility to pass by the Bringme Box before or after office hours. That fits in with our service tradition: before the Bringme Box we often used to open the pharmacy early or stayed open after hours in order to make sure patients got their order. Fortunately, thanks to Bringme, that's no longer necessary.. We offer the same service—and more—but it makes our lives quite a bit easier.
Life is changing and people are always busy, so this is how we try to take that into account.
- Annemie van de Rostyne
Ciska: Expanding the opening hours isn't just interesting for people who work, by the way. Students are asking for that as well. They often spend the whole day attending classes and have numerous social obligations on top of that.
That's some service and trust you provide. And very innovative. Are there any other things that you use to offer customers innovative services?
Annemie: There are a lot of rules and regulations for pharmacies. For example: you're not allowed to advertise. But we do try to communicate meaningfully. Like on Facebook, for instance, we list the opening hours and holidays, but also things that are good to know like what to add to your travel pharmacy. We also print our own folders. We're currently working on a folder for students who are about to go live in digs.
Ciska: On top of that we're convinced that really listening and providing the right explanation is what people appreciate most of all. We're the first ones who know when people are pregnant, for example, but we're also the first to know someone has miscarried. So we're in the loop about a lot of things and people rely on us and trust us. The service we offer via Bringme complements the personal service we always want to offer. That's why it's fun that communication via the Bringme App is also very humane and personal.
Are there other ways in which you plan to use the Bringme Box?
In the future, our wholesaler's deliveries will take place at night. We first thought that their boxes wouldn't fit in the Bringme Box, but we tried it and they fit perfectly! So as soon as the deliveries start arriving at night, we plan to use the Box for that as well. It's more convenient for us and for the supplier.
Finally, feedback is always welcome, of course. Could you suggest any improvements to the Bringme Box?
Yes. An extra-large slim compartment would be easy, for crutches and wheelchairs, for example. Another thing that would come in handy would be the possibility to pay via Bancontact so that patients can immediately settle.
Thank you, ladies, for your suggestions and a great conversation.