Last night I read an article about the closing of Madison-area company Bergmann Pharmacy. Although the owner cites multiple reasons for the store closings, an important one is the difficulty in competing against a big box brand’s ability to deliver conveniences like longer open hours and drive-thru services. As a community member, I’m sad to see Bergmann Pharmacy go. I haven’t used them since they closed my neighborhood store on Midvale Boulevard but fundamentally it’s not pleasant to watch locally owned companies atrophy in the presence of big corporations.
That being said, I fully admit that I love the convenience of Walgreens. Their mobile iPhone app is solid, a clean and simple User Interface (UI) and the User Experience (UX) is easy. When one of my kids or I need a prescription in the middle of the night, there’s a Walgreens nearby to find relief. Their technology supports express pay, rewards points, one-touch refills and more. Simply put, Walgreens and the like make my life a little easier when I need it to be.
I’m sure this sentiment is why even staunch “localists” can be heard in the alleys…in hushed tones…under the cloak of night, whispering, “I hate to admit it, but Starbucks is really a blessing when you’re on the road.” Or worse…the hipster may even be found, on occasion, sneaking into Walmart for that superhero t-shirt he can’t get anywhere else. Most of us have done it.
Is it any wonder community businesses face serious challenges? Is there any area in which a big box brand can’t do it better?
Well, of course there is; there are, in fact, lots of things that a big brand cannot always do better. For the purposes of this blog, let me illustrate that customer service can be one of those things.
On a recent trip to Walgreens, the cashier asked me to go online and rate his service. As he was asking me to do this, I thought, “wow, I’d be happy to because he’s certainly nice.” He put a sticker on my receipt and handed it to me at which point my mouth dropped open.
The sticker read, “I did fine? Give me a 9.”
There’s likely a marketing genius (who has bigger and better chops than me) who came up with this rhyming little number as a catchy call-to-action and it’s even likely that this is an effective tactic. But, I can’t help think, “fine?” Is this the level of service to which Walgreens is striving? Is this what it’s come to? Would my clients be satisfied and come back to me if the best I could do was fine?
Hey, let’s try a few others on for size. Do any of the following inspire you (note ,none end in an exclamation–too much energy):
- I was there
- I’m adequate, hire me
- I made requisite eye contact, come again
- My mind is elsewhere, have a nice day
Of course, I’m picking on Walgreens a wee bit. But this little sticker is a funny reminder that we should all strive for more than fine and when it comes to spending our hard-earned money, maybe we need to focus on spending it with companies who are also more than fine.
Do you hear that sound? It’s the door creaking open for local businesses to stand up, shout out, and follow up with, “I did amazing!”