How to Bottle Great Customer Experience

As the story of a prescription medicine bottle shows, everything has a customer experience and must be thought out.


Someone’s figured out how to bottle a great customer experience. No, this isn’t a magic elixir that, when applied to any customer interaction, turns disappointment into delight. This is, quite literally, a bottle that delivers a great customer experience. It’s called “ClearRx,” and it was developed in 2005 by graphic designer Deborah Adler. She sought to improve what is actually a pretty crummy customer experience – one’s interaction with a prescription medicine bottle.

Traditional Prescription Medicine Bottles

Traditional Prescription Medicine Bottles

If you think about it, prescription bottles don’t sport a very customer-friendly design:

  • Childproof caps, while great for keeping medicine out of the hands of children, also make it difficult for less dexterous people (many of them elderly) to access their drugs.
  • The most prominent feature on the prescription label itself is often the pharmacy’s logo, which is actually the least important piece of information for the patient.
  • Reading the label requires some mental gymnastics, as the drug name, dosage and intake instructions are printed in a tiny font that meanders around a cylindrical bottle. It’s hardly the ideal platform for easy viewing.
  • Color-coded warning stickers (indicating, for example, that the medicine should be taken with food) are typically printed on orange labels, which don’t stand out well on a traditional amber-colored prescription bottle.
  • If your household stores prescription drugs in a drawer, good luck finding the right one. Because the drug name is printed on the side of the prescription bottle, you need to pick up and inspect each one to locate the right medication for the right person.
  • Some of the most important information, such as that about drug interactions and side effects, is usually printed on a separate sheet that’s stapled by the pharmacy to a paper bag. That sheet often gets discarded with the bag and therefore isn’t readily available when people actually need to consult it.

See also: Answer to a Better Customer Experience?   When her grandmother misread a prescription bottle and mistakenly took pills meant for her grandfather, Deborah Adler decided there must be a better way. And that’s when she invented the ClearRx system, which was later licensed to Target’s pharmacies.

ClearRX Prescription Medicine Bottles

ClearRx Prescription Medicine Bottles

ClearRx essentially reinvented the prescription medication bottle, creating a far more customer-centric product. Here’s how Adler did it:

  • A reshaped bottle now allows for a flat surface on which prescription information can be printed. No more reading while rotating the bottle. All the key information is clearly visible to the patient from a single vantage point. In addition, the drug name is printed on the top of the bottle, as well, so even if stored in a drawer, it’s easy to find the right medication.
  • The information architecture of the label itself better aligns with what the patient needs to know. Pharmacy branding takes a backseat to safety. The top half of the label prominently displays the drug name, dosage information and intake instructions. The bottom half of the label, printed in smaller type, is reserved for less critical information, such as the quantity of pills and the name of the prescribing physician.
  • The drug information sheet (describing interactions and side effects, among other important details) is now neatly tucked behind the prescription label – always easily accessible when you need it. There’s also a rudimentary magnifying glass inserted behind the label, for people who need some extra help reading the bottle.
  • Essential warnings, such as whether to take the drug on an empty stomach, are more prominently delineated on the back side of the bottle (instead of crammed onto a small warning sticker).
  • The bottle cap was redesigned to still be childproof while allowing for easier access by elderly patients and others with limited dexterity.
  • Colored rubber rings attach to the neck of the bottle, allowing each individual in a household to choose an identifying shade so they can spot their prescriptions at a glance – even if the bottles are mingled with those of other family members.

ClearRx was a huge hit with Target’s pharmacy customers, many of whom are now lobbying CVS to embrace the design. (CVS acquired Target’s pharmacies in 2015 and subsequently converted all prescription bottles to their more traditional design, in the name of “cost efficiency.”) Here’s what you should take away from the ClearRx story: Everything has a customer experience. Yes, even the act of opening up a prescription medicine bottle is a type of customer experience. And when such seemingly inconsequential interactions are intentionally engineered, it can distinguish the experience (and the associated company) in the marketplace – as ClearRx and Target so skillfully accomplished. See also: How to Redesign Customer Experience  Think broadly about the types of interactions that constitute your company’s customer experience. It’s not just about interactions with retail store associates, call center staff or onsite sales reps. There are likely more subtle components to the experience that deserve to be managed just as carefully – for example, the act of opening a box of shipped goods, or installing a piece of software or reading an account statement. Be deliberate and thoughtful in shaping the design of all of these interactions, always incorporating the perspective of those who actually use your product or service. The brilliance of ClearRx is that it took a meaningful but overlooked touchpoint and redesigned it with the customer in mind – thereby creating a source of competitive differentiation, where before there was none. That’s a prescription for success, in any business. This article first appeared at Watermark Consulting.

Jon Picoult

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Jon Picoult

Jon Picoult is the founder of Watermark Consulting, a customer experience advisory firm specializing in the financial services industry. Picoult has worked with thousands of executives, helping some of the world's foremost brands capitalize on the power of loyalty -- both in the marketplace and in the workplace.


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