Dequeuing your queues

Regardless of all the latest retail pharmacy challenges and opportunities …. ERx, Covid vaccination, generic prescribing, et al …. nothing changes the importance of maximising the customer experience.  Especially so, as the new world order forces retailers of all walks of life to find new ways to excel.  All visitors to retail pharmacy will be exposed to many different manifestations of the customer experience elsewhere.  Your customers will, at least subliminally, be making comparisons and benchmarking accordingly.


An oft neglected element of the retail pharmacy customer experience is found in the queue, at script in, script out, OTC.  Some pharmacies pride themselves on how quickly they acknowledge and greet customers arriving to queues or occupied waiting chairs.  Sorry …………… not good enough.  Too many pharmacy’s floor staff are so task focussed, facing up, filling up, ticketing up that they don’t even see the customers in the queue.  Sorry ……….. not good enough.  A golden customer “wow” experience presents in the way you could (should!) de-queue the queues.


Appropriately selected floor staff or the retail manager should be on the constant lookout to dequeue.  Don’t be afraid to place a desk bell at the dispensary for the dispensary staff to “call for” dequeuing, if the nominated de-queuer doesn’t see the new queue forming………….


  • At script in queue, take the script from the queuing customer, ask if they need anything else, serve them , submit their script and relieve them from queuing
  • At OTC queue, serve them , pulling them out of the queue to do so
  • At script out, ask their name if you don’t know it and go check if their script is ready for pick up now.  If the tray has no peg signifying that the BPharm must speak to this customer, deliver their meds and send them happily on their way





  1. Geoff Timbs says:

    Hi Glenn, came across your article in the AJP pages and I’m sure you’ll get lots of comments on your ‘script out’ process….our policy was everytime to ask the name AND address and check it off the script EVEN if you knew the patient- surprising how often mistakes were made when team assumed they knew the customer. We also used numbered script checks so the client arrived with a number (with circled surname initial) so really triple checking that right person received the script. Also our policy was a pharmacist was on the script out counter to hand out scripts if possible and when necessary. As the pharmacist handing out was not the pharmacist checking the scripts, instead of a peg, we had a series of laminated cards to alert the pharmacist eg new medication, possible interaction, change of strength or brand, etc

    We used a Meto number queuing display (1 to 99) and numbered script checks- gave the numbered stub to the patient and circled the last 2 digits for emphasis and pointed to the Meto display……… clients could immediately see how busy we were and how long it may be if they chose to wait (so no clients standing and glaring as to why my script is taking so long). They also knew it was efficient and fair and that no one else would get preferential treatment. We knew what order scripts arrived in and clients on their return could see if the script was ready without needing to ask staff. And then script collection was more efficient.

    This worked well in a pharmacy doing about 400 scripts a day. I’ve only ever seen the numbering system used a couple of times in other pharmacies but it may be worth exploring if you are interested in efficient workflows