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National Pharmacies Keeps Customers Front-And-Center with Digital Innovation

Dan Brooks
Product Marketing Manager, AI, Bots & Mobile

You probably would think that a chain of Australian pharmacies and vision centers wouldn't be at the forefront of digital customer engagement, but you'd be wrong.  National Pharmacies, a large chain claiming over 350,000 members, which is based in Adelaide and has locations throughout South Australia, Victoria, and New South Wales, is pioneering new digital technologies that could allow customers to live healthier lives.  At the very least, National Pharmacies hopes that these technologies will increase customer engagement, allowing the company to serve its user base in a quicker and more accurate manner.

Ryan Klose, who leads technology and innovation at National Pharmacies, says one goal is to create a "wow" experience for pharmacy members.  Many members, especially digital natives, have been conditioned to expect a seamless digital experience as the result of using consumer mobile apps for years.  "You have to live in the world of consumer tech to be relevant," states Klose.  Yet, a slick UI isn't the only key to success.  While design is important, relevancy and customization are crucial in increasing customer engagement, and Klose understands that personalizing each member's experience and encouraging improvements to their overall health can be more productive than forming a simple transnational relationship. "We're trying to connect with empathy," says Klose.

How is National Pharmacies achieving this? By using the latest digital engagement technologies.  The company recently began testing a chatbot built with Oracle's Intelligent Bots platform on Oracle Mobile Cloud Enterprise that allows customers to take their blood pressure and check their weight before submitting that data via the bot. While Klose was initially skeptical of AI-based communication channels, this new breed of chatbot with natural language processing and machine learning algorithms convinced him that these types of automated interactions actually might improve the customer experience.  In addition, National Pharmacies recently added a "count-down timer" to its Oracle-built mobile app, which alerts members to how long it will be until the company sends them a personalized coupon based on their pharmacy shopping habits. This gamified, and personalized, experience by itself led to an almost 10% increase in app downloads.

Along with significant customer innovation, National Pharmacies also has upgraded its processes and planning systems.  Using Oracle Process Cloud Service (PCS), the pharmacy chain has been able to create a library of standard procedures and practices, including a standard procedure for ordering a product for a customer.  This will help National Pharmacies to improve back-end efficiency.  In addition, the company recently upgraded its ERP system to Oracle's JD Edwards in the Cloud. Yet, instead of using the traditional JD Edwards interface, Klose and his team created a separate mobile/tablet app for in-store employees to use, and then connected this app with APIs to both the back-end JD Edwards system and to Oracle PCS.  In doing this, store employees and customers are using the same app (with different privileges), which means that employees experience the same digital joys, and understand the same digital pains, of the customers who they are trying to serve.

To learn more about National Pharmacies, and about Oracle Mobile Cloud Enterprise, you can read the full Forbes article here

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