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Monday, December 6, 2010

How do you show your promises?

A nice surprise from CVS this weekend. On my way to pick up a prescription for my under-the-weather wife, I noted a small note at the top identifying prescription ready time by the word, “promised”.

They could have used different verbiage to describe when they told my wife her prescription would be ready. (In fact, they could have just called it “prescription ready time”.) I’ll bet very few people even notice this text on the top of their package.

But they specifically use “promised”.

It’s both a reminder to front line employees about what they’re making and to customers about what CVS and its people are delivering.

I’ve said in this space that all businesses are service businesses. A corollary to that is that all services fundamentally are promises that are made to be fulfilled.

Making those promises explicit – as CVS does – makes the expectation clear for everyone involved, and when it is fulfilled, reinforces the performance in the eyes of the customer.

Many companies have made high art of being noncommittal on what they will deliver to customers. It’s a malady that keeps them from being exceptional. If more businesses made their commitments clear - easily identifiable for front line employees and easily measurable for customers - we wouldn’t have nearly the chasm between the service that companies have the opinion they're providing and the service customers percieve.

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