Saul Factor has been at the helm of QS/1 for just over six months, and during that time his impact has become apparent both inside and outside QS/1. When he took over the Company in July, he had barely settled into his office before he hit the road, crisscrossing the country on a journey to meet and talk with you, our customers, to get your take on the Company. So far, he estimates he has spent more time out of the office getting feedback from customers who use our products everyday than he has behind his desk. We were lucky to schedule time with him one afternoon in October to get his take on his first months in office, what he’s hearing from customers and his plans to chart a new direction – and a new mindset – for QS/1.
Raising the Bar: The Customer-Centric Approach
Change can be hard. When J M Smith Corporation Chairman and CEO Alan Turfe introduced Factor to QS/1 staff, of course there was concern over the unknown. When addressing the staff, Factor said he was raising the bar and had high expectations of everyone. He also challenged the group to hold him accountable too. He promised transparency and has kept that promise by providing regular updates.
“Playing roles is not my style. It’s just not part of my nature. I may be blunt because I’m a New Yorker at heart. But if I can be myself and it makes a difference that is what is important to me. This is not a façade. It comes across naturally because it truly is my own culture and character.”
Factor’s first month at QS/1 was a transitional period with former QS/1 President Tammy Devine. When Devine retired, he started his first meeting with the senior management team by telling them “the training wheels are off.” It was during those first few days employees started hearing the term customer-centric. Factor’s customer-centric approach sharpens QS/1’s focus on the mission to ensure every aspect of the products and services offered after the sale far exceed our customers’ expectations. In less than three months on the job, customers had already noticed the change, he said.
“It’s given me a very good validation of knowledge around where we are, what the perception is of QS/1 and what we need to continue to do to drive our business forward.”
He points to a recent example. A QS/1 Customer had a server crash late on a Friday afternoon. The customer quickly called QS/1’s Customer Support Center desperate for help. QS/1’s team worked feverishly to help get the system restored on a new server. Factor not only stayed in contact with support staff to track the progress of the emergency, but he also reached out to the customer to offer assurances that he was aware of the issue and promised the operation would be back up and running as quickly as possible.
“The customers are not used to getting the president of QS/1 in front of them. They are not used to having that level of engagement.”
Factor’s customer-centric philosophy starts at the top and works its way throughout the entire Company, department by department. He said he immediately noticed a change in attitude within the ranks.
“The level of intensity, the level of customer engagement…it’s contagious, and when people see that level of intensity, they want to be a part of it.
It doesn’t take long until that trickles down to where customers notice the difference as well.”
Typically, when customers call the support center, they have an issue. “We recently had a customer call and basically ask ‘what’s going on at QS/1?,’” Factor recalled. “We asked ‘why, what’s the matter?’ and they replied ‘nothing, I’m getting great service.’ This is definitely a different level of customer engagement.”
Leaders Can Become Complacent
Jim Smith, QS/1’s founder, was an innovator ahead of his time. A registered pharmacist with a degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) who knew computers would play an integral role in pharmacy. He, along with future QS/1 presidents Bill Cobb and Tammy Devine, worked to write the code that would become the Company’s first pharmacy management system.
“Without a doubt, QS/1 developed the industry. At the end of the day, QS/1 was the innovator of the industry.”
For decades, other companies tried to mimic QS/1 and topple the giant from the top of the pharmacy software hill. Eventually, QS/1 found itself trying to keep up in some areas of the industry. Factor said complacency is a common occurrence within leading companies. “My belief is over a period of time, as the innovators, as the market leaders, companies tend to get complacent,” Factor said. “This isn’t just true with QS/1; this is all companies. It’s breaking up that complacency that drives you to the next level – to that great level. Factor said his job is to challenge the team.
“Complacency can happen anywhere; it’s a leader’s role to ensure it doesn’t take root in the organization by driving authority, accountability and responsibility to people, and then holding them to it.”
Seeing Around the Corner
It’s easy to focus on the here-and-now moments of life. Business is no different. Factor said it’s important for a company to not only serve customers in the moment, but to also look to the future to see what’s next for the industry. “This is what I call seeing around the corner,” Factor said, “which is why one of my biggest roles is to know what is coming next for the industry and to be prepared for it when it happens. I cannot do that sitting behind a desk. We need to go out and talk to customers, industry leaders, thought leaders and government representatives to understand what is happening in our industry so we can also be innovators and educators.” One of the trends Factor is already tracking is moving to a service-focused model that goes beyond basic dispensing.
“What I see coming in three to five years is that the dispensing function will be the draw into the pharmacy, but clinical services are going to be the important part of the interaction.”
Right now, QS/1 is focusing on building on the clinical features that serve up opportunities and create a seamless way for those opportunities to be worked, captured and billed.”
“SharpRx® is probably the most important development project we’ve had in a long time. It’s the right product for where we are moving, and it supports our customer-centric, customer-managed, customer-directed organization. It’s simple to use, it’s very intuitive from a pharmacist’s point of view, it’s easily updated and it’s written in a programming language that will serve pharmacies well into the future.”
Factor is also focusing on ways to build platforms that free up pharmacists, and pharmacy staff, to provide clinical and patient-facing services they need to be successful.
Factor said it’s that forward-thinking mentality that can, in part, help companies avoid becoming complacent. He said SharpRx, QS/1’s newest pharmacy software product, is a prime example of seeing around the corner and developing a platform that can serve community pharmacies in the future.
Even though development of SharpRx is progressing nicely, QS/1 will continue to support and update its legacy pharmacy management systems. “SharpRx doesn’t mean we are taking focus away from NRx®, RxCare Plus® or our other platforms. What it means is that we are continuing to accelerate development in SharpRx because we believe it will serve the vast majority of pharmacies.”
Honing QS/1’s Focus
In a move to bring focus to QS/1’s platforms, the Company recently announced a major shift for its PrimeCare® long-term care (LTC) product. PrimeCare is being transitioned to Integra® LTC Solutions, also a business unit of the J M Smith Corporation. Integra is well established in the LTC market and is a perfect fit for PrimeCare and its customers.
“We need to create areas of focus for our business, and Integra is the right place to focus on long-term care,” Factor said. “They have great products, they have great people and they have great leadership. At the same time, what it has allowed us to do is really focus on community pharmacy.”
Late last year, QS/1 began an in-depth dialogue with its staff and customers to ensure the transition of PrimeCare to Integra is smooth and seamless. The move to separate the products will allow Integra to help grow PrimeCare within the industry while giving it the attention it deserves. Simultaneously, QS/1 is able to return to its core and focus on helping community pharmacies grow with a highly improved pharmacy management system.
“The changes we have made in our organization have allowed us to bring a different level of focus than we had in the past. I think this bodes well for our customers and employees as they now truly have a singular line of sight without being distracted.”
Supporting the Customer
When customers meet Factor, they can immediately sense he is a person who has extremely high standards. He has raised the bar at QS/1 and does not mind challenging the status quo. He is always thinking of ways to improve the product as well as the process. Factor is a perfectionist and is always looking to raise the bar even higher.
“The goal post keeps moving,” he said. “The business keeps moving; our customers keep moving. We will never achieve a 100 percent end state because there is no end state. It is an ever-evolving environment in pharmacy. Our goals need to continue to grow and build as our customers face new challenges.
I’ll never be satisfied with the status quo. The status quo is just a mile marker on the road to where we are going.”
Factor has challenged the staff to improve customer wait times when calling the support center. He is also overseeing a process where there is more follow up with customers so they know the status of their call, which reassures them their issue has not been forgotten, and staff is working to find a resolution.
“My hope is that as they experience a different QS/1, we bring them a differentiated product and service that allows them to be more successful, and they will continue to partner with us to drive the entire industry forward.”
Factor is also reaching out to QS/1 Customers to help the company grow and improve its products. “Don’t assume you know what the customer wants until you ask them,” he added. “I have invited customers to help us design things as we move forward because customer design is very important. We are creating focus groups and advisory boards, which I think will be an important part of the innovation of QS/1’s software.”
Factor’s impact on the Company and its customers could be felt quickly after he took his seat in the president’s office. He is the first registered pharmacist to oversee the Company since its founder, Jim Smith. He recognizes the importance of that fact and appreciates the pressure and benefits it brings to his position.
“This is an exciting time for QS/1 to have a pharmacist back at the helm. I think it allows us to have additional credibility. At the same time, it also puts a different dynamic on us to truly be able to look around those corners, using a pharmacist’s lens, to understand what our customers are going through and how we can help them.”
From Factor’s first day on the job, he brought drive and ambition to the staff. When asked if he was bringing that same drive and ambition to QS/1’s Customers, he paused for a few seconds. “It’s probably too early for me to tell you that’s happening,” he said. “But what I can say is that I see excitement in customers as I go around and talk to them about some of the changes we’ve made to energize our organization and bring solutions that matter to them.”
It’s reassuring for customers to know that if they have a big issue, the president of the Company is a phone call away. But, with Factor, as soon as he realizes a customer has an issue, he’ll probably call them first.
Source: Brea, Alberto. Amazon did not kill the retail industry. LinkedIn. June 1, 2017. Web. 22 Nov 2017. www.linkedin.com/pulse/amazon-did-kill-retail-industry-alberto-brea/.