Walgreen’s Nails the Pharmacy Customer Experience

I’m not a big fan of ordering prescription medications – and I know I’m not alone. I’ve traditionally used mail order, but as I often forget to reorder in time, I frequently run out.  Also, since I change insurance every few years, I keep having to start over and fill out another form and get another prescription from my doctor.  Too much work.  But it’s been cheap enough that I keep trying to do it.

But those days are over.  Walgreen’s has made me a fan of using my local pharmacy, by offering good pricing with an excellent customer experience.

First of all is the price.  This is mail order’s strategic benefit, but Walgreen’s (and others) now level the playing field through competitive generics pricing.  But it’s the customer experience that separates them.  Walgreen’s has made three changes to really streamline the experience.

  1. Ordering medications.  A few months ago I called my local Walgreen’s to order a refill, preparing to enter the 40-50 keystrokes needed for their IVR (Interactive Voice Response). The recorded message suggested I try their app. Being a (somewhat) reformed IT geek, I downloaded it.  Wow!  Rather than dealing with the IVR, I simply load the app, choose pharmacy, refill by scan, and point the phone at my prescription. Presto!
  2. Ordering medications, part 2.  I thought the app was the ultimate until last month.  I received an email from Walgreen’s telling me that my prescription was ready for a refill. I simply had to hit reply and my prescription was ready. Even easier than using an app, and can be used by anybody with email.
  3. Paying for medications.  I hate having to carry an additional card in my wallet, and sometimes I don’t have it on me.  There are now over 30 million consumers with Health Savings Accounts, Flexible Spending and Health Reimbursement plans, and all of them to deal with using this extra debit card to pay for medication. But no more! Walgreen’s now stores your account information – no card needed.

I realize I’m contradicting my last post where I said technology doesn’t create delight.  And it normally takes a human being to do that.  But Walgreen’s innovations remove significant, painful barriers in the pharmacy process – barriers that were previously accepted as the way things had to be.

Your turn.  What barriers exist for your customers that can be removed with the right dose of technology or process improvement.  A credit card swipe has always been considered a sacred cow – something that could not be removed from the process.  But Walgreen’s found a way.

Go undercover customer and view your experience as a new customer would.  Better yet, ask your Mom (or other readily-available relative) to try ordering from you – where does she get annoyed?  Does she need a paper PO for a recurring process?  Does she need to know her account number to order?  If she has multiple accounts (such as IRAs), does she need to login separately to view each one?  Document the issues, then ruthlessly eliminate steps.

Walgreen’s has earned my loyalty for all future prescription orders.  What can you do to earn it from your customers?