Kroger’s Prescription for Phone Relief


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Anyone who regularly goes to the pharmacy knows that the sound of a ringing phone is as prevalent as the rattle of bottled pills. Now Kroger Co. is testing a program to eliminate the jangle of the bell, while hopefully increasing the jingle of the register.

The Cincinnati-based supermarket chain is partnering with a Hamilton, Ohio, company to create a call center that will handle prescription refills – calls that pharmacists now take. The companies are calling this facility a “knowledge processing center,” which indicates that Kroger hopes to gather some good customer insights along the way.

The partnership is with Koncert IT, part of the Vora Group, a collection of companies specializing in information technology and infrastructure. Under the plan, the pilot will involve 45 call center analysts handling 14 area Kroger stores. If successful, the center could expand to employ 300.

“This will help with customers who are seeking more one-on-one time with their pharmacists, which is something our customers have said would be more help to them,” a Kroger spokeswoman told the Middletown Journal.

This one-on-one time alone will create substantial value for Kroger, in terms of deeper customer understanding and relationship building at the pharmacy window. But even greater gains may be possible at the call center, whose employees have the time to ask the kinds of questions that can trigger important consumer information – especially if they are using software that could easily segment and organize the responses, in essence turning them into valuable customer data.

Kroger already has much access to customer data through its Kroger Plus loyalty card, which yields a lot of good information about what we buy, how much, when and where. But call center conversations could ideally yield the types of individual detail that would enable Kroger to serve its customers even better – by understanding what is most relevant to them and then crafting promotions and offers that answer to those needs.

At the very least, local customers won’t have to wait for their pharmacist to get off the phone.

Lisa Biank Fasig
Lisa leads the creation of editorials and feature stories for COLLOQUY and oversees the work of contributing editors and writers. With 18 years of reporting experience, most in business and specifically consumer behavior, she is highly skilled at researching data and teasing out the trends. A background in graphic design enables her to see ideas in three dimensions and tell the story visually.


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