CVS Pharmacy Writes Future by Saying Good Bye to Cigarettes

Bravo to CVS for their Decision to Stop Selling Tobacco Products

Some think it to be a poor decision that will harm earnings and inconvenience customers. If we were living in a different time, with different knowledge, and CVS was scrapping by needing to sell anything in order to put food on the table, I’d agree. But, this isn’t the case. Healthcare has become more complicated, competitive, and future focused. Meanwhile, CVS has become an integrated pharmacy company with a wide and growing breadth of capabilities. Punching customers in the face and then offering to dress their wounds isn’t consistent thinking and it isn’t good business. With smoking being the leading cause of premature disease and death in the United States and it exacerbating other conditions like hypertension and diabetes, it no longer makes sense for a healthy-human centered business to continue supporting such a deadly habit.

A Polarizing Decision
The decision to stop selling cigarettes and tobacco related product is polarizing. CVS customers that smoke will now likely shop elsewhere for cigarettes and other needed items as well. But, the nonsmoker audience that already eschewed tobacco products will likely see the company as more committed to its promise of helping people on their path to better health. This change actually frees up CVS from conflicting and confusing messages as they begin to offer smoking cessation therapy and engage on a national smoking cessation program.

A Courageous Decision
It is as though CVS is saying, “If you want a serious pharmacy that is interested in making and keeping people healthy, then come to CVS. But, if you demand a nicotine fix from your local pharmacy in addition to making other purchases, then please shop elsewhere.” Saying something IS saying something. CVS will likely attract a multitude of new customers who believe that taking a stand against smoking, is taking a stand towards healthier communities.

“We’ve got 26,000 pharmacists and nurse practitioners who are helping millions of patients each and every day,” said Larry Merlo, the chief executive of CVS Caremark.

In my book, The Experience Design BLUEPRINT: Recipes for Creating Happier Customers and Healthier Organizations, one of the recipes I share is especially relevant to this story. It is also relevant to every organization you’ll ever be a part of.

From the book:
Recipe #3: Write the Future You Want
Create the stories that you wished customers would retell. Write these down. In Chapter 7: Improving the Journey, you’ll learn some tools and techniques to intentionally design these new customer journeys.

Imagine the powerful stories told by the millions of patients that are helped by the 26,000 pharmacists and nurse practitioners serving across 7,600 CVS stores. Stories about managing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, kicking the smoking habit, getting flu shots, alleviating symptoms, managing diseases, etc. In short, stories about getting healthier, being more comfortable, and managing diseases throughout our human journey.

With customers (patients) at the center of focus and with the future in mind, opportunities abound. CVS and its stakeholders can design new services that win the hearts and minds of customers, increase employee engagement, more than offset the lost revenue from cigarette sales, and ultimately lower the cost of healthcare. But, the product to cut or shape shouldn’t begin and end with cigarettes alone. Fully embracing Recipe #3 will have CVS moving toward a future where other current products are scrutinized and similarly dropped, while other products might be newly introduced. Again, it all depends upon the stories we wish our customers to recall and tell others.

image of Greg-Olson-Managing Director of Delightability and author of Experience Design BLUEPRINTGreg Olson is the author of The Experience Design BLUEPRINT: Recipes for Creating Happier Customers and Healthier Organizations. See the Book and Author Summary PDF or find the book on Amazon.

If You Want New Outcomes try Changing your Language and Conversation

From Healthcare
The American Medical Association this week voted to declare obesity a disease. This, in a move to change the focus from treating obesity related symptoms, toward prevention. Without the label of disease, insurance companies have largely rejected insurance claims. And, without reimbursements, doctors are reluctant to have conversations about prevention. Prevention, it turns out, has been a big money loser. What has worked is treating the symptoms of obesity – those claims are reimbursed as normal and customary. Sadly, aside from people remaining unhealthy, this practice also increases the costs of an already overburdened healthcare system. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, treatment of obesity-related illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and certain cancers drives up the nation’s medical bill by more than $150 billion each year.

To Homelessness
The Executive Director of a nonprofit that serves women experiencing homelessness once shared with me a story about a woman that visited her as her last stop in getting help. The women said, “Why do I have to lose everything in order to get any help.” Think about it for a moment, there are homeless and housed. What about those in transition from being homeowners to homeless. Our limited language here also limits our thinking and creative solutions that might be beneficial for all involved. I can imagine an organization that would maintain payments for this person while they sell their home, possibly rebuilding a new life from the equity. Without such an organization, the home is returned to bank and the person loses their equity and a new beginning. This is a situation where everybody loses.

To Developing Nations
The former CEO of World Bicycle Relief shared with me that in Zambia, one place where they sell their rugged bicycles (trucks), there is no word for maintenance. Imagine what that means. If there is no word, then the concept doesn’t exist. Not surprisingly, many broken down and abandoned bicycles litter the landscape. One of his organization’s aims was to not only introduce bicycles as a path to improving lives, but also introduce the idea and provide training for bicycle mechanics and inventory. This is life changing for many.

And in Your Business Too.
We also need new language and better conversations between business leaders, creatives, and customer facing roles, so that we can create and deliver more remarkable experiences to those being served by the organization. We also need to understand better, how and where our big ideas and decisions fit into improving the health of the organization. For this we need new eyes, new thinking, and new conversations.  I’m doing my part – I’ve written The Experience Design Blueprint: Recipes for Creating Happier Customers and Healthier Organizations. If you want to get past boring experiences and sputtering performance and get to remarkable and sustainable, you might want to read it. Please share with other like minded individuals that want to do their part to make this world a little better for those that inhabit it today and in the future.

About The Author

Gregory Olson’s latest book is L’ impossi preneurs: A Hopeful Journey Through Tomorrow, a light-hearted and deadly serious book about a brighter future where we live more meaningful lives, governments invest in people and sustainable progress, and technology serves humans. Greg also authored The Experience Design Blueprint, a book about designing better experiences and then making them come true.

Chapters in The Experience Design Blueprint that especially pertain to this post are those chapters in Section 2 – Making  a Bigger Imprint:

  • Chapter 9: The Neighborhood
  • Chapter 12: The Three Psychological Zones
  • Chapter 13: Taking Flight

image of Greg-Olson-Managing Director of Delightability and author of Experience Design BLUEPRINTGregory Olson founded strategy and design firm Delightability, LLC. with the belief that if you delight customers then success will follow. He believes that we all have the potential to do better, as individuals, organizations, and communities, but sometimes we need a little help.  Gregory also serves as a volunteer board member for Oikocredit Northwest, a support association for social investor and financial institution, Oikocredit International.

Is Your Flight Plan Ready for Your Small Business?

What, why do I need a flight plan you say? Because more than half of the pilots involved in mishaps did not file a flight plan before the accident flight. You might not fly a small aircraft but, if you are a small business owner or entrepreneur, you need the equivalent of a flight plan too. Otherwise you may be an accident waiting to happen.

Flight plans for small craft pilots are filed with the FAA so there is a record of where the pilot intends to go. If the pilot doesn’t arrive within a window of time then a search is initiated.  The lack of a flight plan has led pilots and their craft to go missing for days. If you want the benefits of a search and rescue party, you’ll need to file a flight plan.

Free Calendar Daily Flight Plan Productivity Tool from Delightability and The Experience Design BLUEPRINT
click image to open latest Daily Flight Plan Calendar as PDF

So what does this have to do with running a small business? Well, you too, should be prepared and know where you are going each and every day. How long will you fritter about before you get down to business? Will you be distracted by social media, the next phone call, the insurmountable email inbox? If you are an emergency room doctor or a first responder your plan might be to respond and react. But, if you are an entrepreneur or small business owner wanting to grow your business, you’ll need to cut through the noise and be more proactive. You’ll also want to identify the people that can help you – your small business search and rescue; these might be customers, partners, or vendors.

Like most entrepreneurs and small business owners, you likely have a long list of things that get shoved off to the back burner waiting for another day when there is more time. But more time never actually does come right?

Today is no different than yesterday and tomorrow will look much the same. You only have 24 hours in a day. When it comes to time, there is no aristocracy of wealth. Genius or laziness is not rewarded or punished with any more time.

So, to make the most of what little time you have you must make a daily plan. At Delightability, I use the daily flight plan. It’s a free download; you can use it too.

The 3 Legged Stool

3-legged-stool of operations - promoting value - delivering value - balanced personal life - Delightability LLC.

There are a few visual indicators at the top of the flight plan that serve as reminders. The first is the 3 legged stool. Any small business owner struggles with balancing between running a smooth operation, delivering on whatever their product or service is, and performing the sales/marketing/business development function. Even if you are good at all three, you’ll struggle with the limited time available in a day. With the 3 legs being all consuming there isn’t much time for personal life – that should be you sitting atop the well balanced 3 legged stool. But, get out of balance and you and your personal life topple to the floor.

The 3 Funnels

Exposure Adoption Loyalty Funnels from Delightability LLC

The 3 funnels visual is a reminder that no matter what business we’re in we have customers to serve. Those customers didn’t start out as customers, they started out as prospects. And hopefully, they’ll move beyond being customers to become loyal advocates. So, the 3 funnels are the exposure funnel where you turn suspects into prospects, the adoption funnel where you turn prospects into customers that are using your product or service, and the retention funnel where you turn customers into loyal advocates. For a bit more read this previous post.

Touchpoints

The other visual reminder are touchpoints reminding us that we can affect the quality of the interactions that our customers have with us. Exceed the customer expectation at a touchpoint and you have the recipe for delight. Check out the previous issue of the What’s Next newsletter to learn more about the Delight-O-Meter model and see a couple of examples.

Week Numbers

Other items on the daily flight plan that can help you get about your business are the weekly calendar that goes 3 months at a time and the Guiding Principles. You don’t want your business to end up like the small craft pilot that landed with his gear up. So, download your flight plan, use it daily, and check it frequently. Use it to note the people you’ll reach out to whether they are customers or consultants.  You might not get any more time in the day but you’ll make the most of the time you have available and make a bigger impact along the way.

My Book out in September is Experience Design BLUEPRINT: Recipes for Creating Happier Customers and Healthier Organizations. Sign up to be notified of its release. With it, you’ll be better equipped to design more remarkable customer experiences and then make those experiences come to life in your organization and the business landscape. Sign Up to be notified of its release and please share with others.

Book Project Update

image of one page overview - The Experience Design Blueprint by Gregory Olson
click image to open one page PDF book summary

The Experience Design BLUEPRINT is now available. The first section of the book is about making the invisible visible. You’ll learn about the experience honeycomb, experience hoop and halo, and how to model experiences, whether those are for customers, employees, voters, members, investors, patients, clients, etc. You will build a rich experience vocabulary that is relevant to your audience and to your organization’s health. You’ll learn from everyday consumer examples and then learn how to apply filters, lenses, and levers to improve experiences of any type.

In the second section of the book, you’ll learn to visualize your promise delivery system, better navigate change, and improve your skills in overcoming the barriers that plague innovations and customer experience improvement initiatives. Click here or the image to download the one page book summary along with author contact information. Please reach out if you’d like some help.

Why Think Positive is so Last Year

positive psychology role in the Big Idea ToolkitIt turns out that the world has been swimming in positive psychology for a couple of decades. Amid that, we have many things to cite in the world that aren’t so swimmingly positive. And how many of us have fallen prey to the motivating seminar or sales pitch, only to fail later when we return to our old habits and practices. Being positive, having unabated enthusiasm, and putting blinders up to all things negative, doesn’t create the warm, fuzzy, prosperous future we once thought it would.

In the December issue of Psychology Today, Annie Murphy Paul, explores the uses and abuses of optimism (and pessimism). Like the author of the article suggests, as in many things, context matters. It turns out that there is a time to be optimistic and a time to be pessimistic. Sometimes it is helpful to think of things that might go wrong.

positive psychology in the Big Idea Toolkit - Delightability, LLC.We find this especially interesting given our work with teams using the Big Idea Toolkit. It turns out people adopt two distinct psychological zones or mindsets, when using Continue reading “Why Think Positive is so Last Year”

Edsel. Enron. Blockbuster. Borders…. Is Your Corner Bookstore Next to be Gone and Do You Care?

booksToday 10,700 people employed by Borders will begin losing their jobs as the company plans to shutter it remaining 399 stores and liquidate the entire business.  Once considered a staple, the big chain bookstore might be the flour for a recipe that no longer gets baked.

For more info read the article from the online edition of the Wall Street Journal.

cup - choices - reasons to gather at starbucksStarbucks took something dreadfully boring and turned it into a mega Continue reading “Edsel. Enron. Blockbuster. Borders…. Is Your Corner Bookstore Next to be Gone and Do You Care?”

Imagine that your Employees Were Really Engaged

slice of delight o meter infographic for delighting customers
See Infographic for Full Story

According to the Deloitte Center for the Edge study in 2009, only 1 in 5 employees are passionate about their jobs.

Imagine the untapped potential that exists in the remaining 4/5 of your employee population. What if you could harness their potential and put it to good use, creating value for your customers and for your organization.

I’ll bet you could improve communications, innovative your Continue reading “Imagine that your Employees Were Really Engaged”

Delight-O-Meter: An Innovation in Measuring Customer Delight

Delight O Meter reveal from DelightabilitySo how do you know if you are delighting customers? Is there something more effective than the revenue yardstick or monitoring what people say on social networking? Customer satisfaction surveys don’t seem to work; people say they are satisfied and then leave anyway.

It turns out that most organizations don’t know if they are delighting customers. For those that do, they still lack a systematic framework to manage delight. Customer delight is not customer satisfaction plus Continue reading “Delight-O-Meter: An Innovation in Measuring Customer Delight”

the Unthinking Customer

thinking t-shirt As consumers we have many choices of what we do and how we spend our money. Given too many choices we get overwhelmed and tend to do nothing. Ninety-eight percent (98%) of the time, however, we rely on our subconscious to make decisions. Scientists tell us this is a good thing as our brains are not able to process the millions of information bits thrown at us daily. If we had to think about everything we do, our days would be filled with just getting through our breakfast menu.

rational thinking only represents 2% of decision making

As business people we know the importance of telling customers about the features and benefits of our products and services, so that any thinking person would be compelled to make a purchase. The trouble with this “rational thinking” approach is it only targets 2% of the decision making process and not the 98% of the buyer’s subconscious driven actions. This helps to explain why customer behavior is so often misunderstood and may explain, for example, why 75% of customers in surveys say they are satisfied right before they leave. Of course, measuring customer satisfaction can be helpful in spotting trends; the problem is using a customer satisfaction survey to understand customer thinking or justify getting a good night sleep is misguided.

You need the courage to run experiments

How many times have you thought, “we just need a better website”, or “better leads.” Don’t be surprised if one more communication or one more survey, doesn’t lead you to the Promised Land.  Knowing if customers are happy or what will make them purchase is more complex. You need the courage to run experiments and observe firsthand what works and what doesn’t. Beware of gator brains reactions from those that think they already know the answers. Don’t let unproductive thinking get in your way. See related post –Innovation Squelchers: Pattern Thinking, Biases, and Gator Brains

In the next issue of the What’s Next newsletter we’ll share a free and simple exercise that enables you to detect pattern thinking in yourself as well as others.

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