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Walgreens’ Panic vs Kroger’s Bonus Bucks

Use technology to add value, not control customers

I recently switched my monthly prescriptions from Walgreens toKroger.  It was easy to do using the Kroger Pharmacy website.  Within two hours of the transfer to Kroger, I was informed that my prescriptions were refilled and available for pick up at…Walgreens!  This was a surprise since I had not authorized Walgreens to refill the prescription.

An Intentional Decision

A decision had to have been made inside the Walgreens marketing department that online prescription transfers should trigger an immediate refill.  This decision is very strategic because it negates Kroger’s ability to fill it.  Insurance coverage won’t authorize the same prescription being filled in two different locations in the same time period.  Since Walgreens contacted the insurance company before Kroger could even try to fill it, they one-upped Kroger and delayed the transfer by 30 days.

Walgreens in Panic Mode

It’s clear that Walgreens is desperate right now.  They lost a ton of prescriptions when they failed to reach an agreement with Express Scripts (read at Forbes.com Express Scripts Kicked Walgreens’ Tail).  The country’s largest pharmacy chain (8500 stores) losing out on a massive number of prescriptions is a challenge.  In making their “strategic” decision, Walgreens forgot to consider me, the customer.

Technology Used to Control

By using technology to negate my choice, Walgreens transitioned their brand (in my mind) from being convenient and friendly to a cold, money grabbing, corporate cash machine.  Oops.  And it didn’t work.  After three trips to Kroger and one to Walgreens (to give them an earful), I successfully got the transfer completed.  This created significant angst because I had run out of medication.  This situation was extended by Walgreens’ antics.

Technology Delivers Value

As I was picking up my prescriptions at Kroger, the clerk asked if I had my Kroger card.  (Now, I’m not a big fan of Kroger or the Kroger card, but that is content for another Hot Marketing Tip).  He said that for each prescription I transferred, I would receive $25 cash on my Kroger card.  With five prescriptions, that was a value of $125.  I’m suddenly becoming a fan of Kroger.  (Yes, I can be bought!)

Lesson for Business Owners

Nothing frustrates customers more quickly than not being given the opportunity for choices.  As business owners, we often have flexibility when large companies are stuck in company-wide procedures.  Leverage those points of corporate rigidity to deliver higher value.  Use technology to deliver greater value.

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One comment on “Walgreens’ Panic vs Kroger’s Bonus Bucks
  1. Jim Benson says:

    Your problem regarding the electronic transfer request was interesting. That is a problem I have run into when filling a transfered Walgreen prescription and didn’t know they automaticaly refill the rx without being asked.

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