My wife and I used to buy our drugs at Walgreens, the largest drug purveyor in Chicago and one of the largest in the United States. Now we don’t.
Figuring the retail value of my wife’s various medications and my heart medications – the alpha-blockers, beta-blockers and assorted linebackers – we used to spend several thousand dollars a year there.
Walgreens wasn’t a horrible store. The prices were fair, if American pharmaceutical prices can ever be labeled fair. We stopped going there primarily because they forgot about “niceness” at the pharmacy and frequently made us wait a half an hour or so at the drive-through. It is ironic that we took our business to Target’s pharmacy, which doesn’t even offer a drive-through drug pickup.
Walgreens promised us convenience, but disappointed. Target did not promise drive-through convenience but the store executed well what it did offer. We virtually never have to wait at the pickup counter at Target. The drug staff is friendly, courteous and knowledgeable. The cashiers are appropriately friendly and efficient. They run the store like they care about it.
My takeaway from my own behavior as a customer is that the key thing a seller must provide is consistent service with a smile. Walgreens provided my drugs and had competitive pricing, but they constantly annoyed me by taking too long and then not apologizing for the delay.
As I began writing this piece, I started thinking about the times I have failed people in my own business – disappointments that I probably thought were trivial like a phone call unreturned, a bill paid late, or a request by an employee ignored. Over time, I am sure the omissions, perceived rudenesses and egotism have cost me dearly.
We often think business rises or falls based on big ideas, creativity and boldness. Perhaps success depends more on having an efficient drive-through and smiling cashiers.
Question: What businesses have you abandoned?
Lloyd Graff is Owner and Chief Space Filler at Today’s Machining World and Graff-Pinkert & Co.