July 13, 2006
Thomas M. Ryan, President
One CVS Drive
Woonsocket, RI 02895
Dear Mr. Ryan,
They say that 96% of customers you lose won’t tell you why they left, even if you pay them. Pay attention… I’m the other 4%.
Your corporation needs a mammoth dose of Jeffrey Gitomer’s Customer Satisfaction Is Worthless, Customer Loyalty Is Priceless. You really need to read it. Then you need to buy copies for everyone in your corporation who has anything to do with figuring out how CVS relates to its customers. Then you need to buy copies for everyone in your corporation who actually talks to customers.
Last night, I decided to upload about 200 digital photos to the CVS Photo Center Web site and order prints of them to be picked up from my neighborhood CVS (#[elided]).
I was pleased to discover that you were offering digital prints for the low price of 19 cents each. I was also pleased to discover that you were offering a special deal — 10 free prints for each 30 paid for. Now, this is about where I stopped being pleased.
Reading the fine print of the free-prints offer, I discovered that the free prints would only be credited to my account after I’d completed an order. In other words, I couldn’t do the simple, logical thing, which would have been to order all the prints I wanted in a single order and receive some of those prints for free automatically. No, I had to play games with doing the math to split my prints into two orders, such that the free prints credited as a result of the first order could be used to offset the second one, and I had to wait until the first order was confirmed before being able to place the second one. Why did you design a promotion intended to attract customers to work in a way that in fact annoys them?
As if that weren’t bad enough, when I placed the second order with my newly earned free- print credits, I discovered that because the total cost of the order after the credits were subtracted was less than $5.00, I was going to be charged an additional $1.49 fee. Now it becomes clear… You designed your promotion the way you did to make it more likely that you’d get to charge people that fee. One hand giveth, and the other hand taketh away. Do you think your customers like paying bogus fees? Do you think your customers like being treated like rubes? Do you think this kind of thing engenders customer loyalty? Duh.
When I went to pick up my prints this afternoon, the woman who helped me acted like she was doing me a favor. I don’t think she smiled once. When I explained to her that I didn’t think I should have to pay the $1.49 fee considering that I’d just bought 200 prints and paid for 3/4 of them, she agreed to waive the fee, but she was pretty darn surly about it. If she was going to waive the fee anyway, don’t you think it would have been a better idea for her to do it with a smile on her face and a cheerful voice, rather than with the obvious attitude that she’d be having a much better day if it weren’t for all those customers with their pesky demands? When I put my credit card into the slot upside-down because I was flustered by the way she’d been treating me and she told me to turn it over in a tone of voice which made it clear that she thought I was a moron, do you think that made me feel like recommending CVS to all my friends and shopping there again at the next possible opportunity? Not!
But the worst was yet to come. One of my print orders simply wasn’t there. They said they’d never received it. This, despite the print-out I was holding in my hand showing that my order was confirmed and had been transmitted to this particular CVS for processing. Do you think anyone apologized? Do you think anyone offered to solve the problem? No, of course not, they just told me I’d have to go home and resubmit the order.
The icing on the cake was the discovery when I got home that several of my prints were misprinted. Great quality control! Now I get to experience the pleasure of writing the misprinted photos to a CD, shlepping back to the store, and getting them to reprint them. Yes, sir, shlepping back and forth to the store is exactly why I submitted my photos for printing through a Web site!
Rest assured, once those misprints are fixed, I’ll be doing my darnedest to find someone else to print my photos from now on.
Don’t treat people like suckers. Don’t nickel-and-dime people. Be friendly and helpful. Empower your employees to solve customers’ problems; indeed, demand that they do so. This is how you win customer loyalty. This is how you succeed. Are you up to the challenge?