CVS’s Loyalty Program Excels, but An Unexpected Glitch Impacts Customer Service

Posted Thursday, December 11, 2014 in Customer Experience by Ronni Marshak

This week, I look at some of the excellent practices that CVS follows in its ExtraCare Rewards Program. As a long-time customer, I find that this is a loyalty program that I am happy and excited to use. The company makes it very easy for me to take full advantage of what the program offers. And, even better, it lets me know how well I’ve done “playing the rewards game” by sending me quarterly updates on what offers I’ve taken advantage of and how much money remained in my pocket rather that in the CVS cash register.

CVS Loyalty ExtraBucks RewardsHowever, all is not always that rosy in CVS land. As regular readers know, I have recently moved. That means I had to switch my prescriptions from my Boston-based CVS to one near my new suburban home. That wasn’t so tough, but the first time I called in for refills, using the automated phone system provided to every CVS store by corporate, things got messed up. Now, I’ve used this automated refill system for years and have never experienced a problem. Yet, just this week, when I went in to pick up the prescription refills I had called in, one of them wasn’t there. And the pharmacy retail associate had no record that I had ever called it in. Yet the other prescription I had re-ordered in the same call was waiting for me.

I wasn’t happy—it was raining heavily, and I didn’t want to come out again to the pharmacy in such vile weather. But what really upset me was the cavalier attitude of the associate. When I said I was unhappy, she responded that next time I should just avoid the automated system anyway…it doesn’t work very well, and I should realize that! Since it had always worked for me before, I was very taken aback. Was a store employee really telling me to bypass one of the most useful systems and offering to waste the time of professionals who could and should be doing other things, like filling prescriptions and giving advice to customers?

The pharmacist on duty heard this and came over quickly to explain that CVS had just launched a new version of the auto refill phone system, and that they were experiencing glitches. And, he said, the reason that the refill wasn’t recognized, most likely, is because I didn’t have any refills left and the physician needed to be called. That is supposed to happen automatically by the system, but it wasn’t always working.

Okay, reasonable explanation, although not what a customer wants to hear. If there are glitches in the new system, then fix them or go back to the old one until you do (naïve request, I know, but it was raining and cold!). But then he looked and said, “Oh, you do have refills on this. I’ll fill it within 30 minutes.”

Great, but that doesn’t explain why the phone system hadn’t caught it.

I went back later in the day to pick up the filled prescription. And, when I went home and looked at my now empty container of that medication, I noted that there weren’t any refills left on it (according to the bottle). So that might explain why my phone request got messed up, but it means that CVS refilled a prescription that should have been reviewed by my doctor. Ah well.

This still doesn’t excuse the attitude of the associate who acted as if I were an idiot for relying on her company’s systems. Both her attitude and her “bad mouthing” her organization are just not a good customer experience.

But, in this case, one cold, wet, and frustrating experience hasn’t made me abandon the brand. The rewards are just too good!

CVS Makes It Easy to Reap the Value of Loyalty
Making Savings Relevant, Easy, and Obvious!
By Ronni T. Marshak, EVP and Senior Consultant, Patricia Seybold Group, December 11, 2014


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