And the Cycle Continues

I’m not a “shoe” girl.  I’m not a “purse” girl.  In fact, I’m not really the type of girl who hoards anything in particular.  I mean, if it were socially acceptable, I might hoard cats but…. well, we all know how those stories usually end up.  However, if we take a step back from the specifics, I think it would be safe to say that I hoard Target products.  It doesn’t matter what it is, I absolutely love anything from Target.  You could show me the same exact product at three different stores but I would loyally make my purchase at Target because I love the store so much!  I have no concept of their corporate policies.  I don’t know if they are “good” to their employees.  All I know is that they have the products I want, at the prices I’m looking for, and a setting which encourages me to buy things that I didn’t even know I ABSOLUTELY NEEDED before I walked in to Target.

Recently (I say that partly in jest as if I don’t wind up at Target at least once a week) I made a return to Target and it gave me ample reason to write an email to the store manager.  As someone who works for a “retail company”, my standards for other retail companies are exceptionally high, and I have no problem letting everyone know that.  However, also as someone working for a “retail company”, I know how often you can go above and beyond for a customer and how rarely they take the time to acknowledge your exceptional service.  So, as a rule of thumb, I try to celebrate good/great service every time that I experience it.  When I called my Target store and asked for the store manager’s email address he was hesitant to give it to me.  He said that they don’t usually give that information out but that I could call a 1-800 number if I wanted.  I told him that I did not want to call a 1-800 number as I wanted to send an email that could be printed out and put in the mentioned employee’s files.  He finally relented and gave me the information.

Below is the email that I sent him in it’s entirety:

R.,

(The purpose of asking for your District Managers email is to ensure that this information gets passed on to them as well.  There is nothing more frustrating than having a customer take the time to compliment your service and then to have that compliment go no where.  The following email is not just about the employees named, it is also a reflection on you and your leadership as well.  I sincerely hope that you will take the time to share this with your “higher-ups” so that they can acknowledge these employees for a job well done.)
I would like to share an experience that I had today to demonstrate to you why I am loyal Target customer.

I work in the retail industry myself.  I have the pleasure of working for a company who has, hands down, the best return policy in the industry.  However, every now and then there are certain situations that fall outside of our return policy.  As someone who has worked for this company for eight years, and has spent a good portion of my time dealing with customer returns, I know that the job can sometimes be frustrating.

There are times when a customer comes in and I have to tell them “no” to a return because it is against our return policy and it is my job as an employee to uphold our return policy.  Usually this results in a customer becoming angry and directing that anger towards me because they don’t know where else to direct their frustrations.  In these instances it becomes necessary to have a manager intervene.  I would love to tell you that every time a manger has intervened all parties involved have walked away happy.  However, in far too many instances, that is not the case.  Many times a manager will come up to the return counter, assess the situation, give the customer what they asked for in the first place, and then pander to the customer, pretending that myself, or my co-worker was wrong to uphold the return policy.  The manager walks away happy, the customer walks away happy, but the employee is left feeling chastised and embarrassed for doing exactly what the company has paid them to do.  This is not good management!

Today I made a return that fell in the gray area of your return policy.  S. did exactly what she was supposed to do and upheld the return policy as it is written, and I respect that.  I, however, was not willing to accept that as the customer, so I asked to speak with a manager.  When O. came over, he restated what S. had explained to me, but then allowed me to return my item for a similar item which I felt to be of a superior quality to the one I was returning.  At no point in time during my transaction did O. even hint to the fact that S. had done something wrong.  Instead, he understood a basic principal of customer service, “take care of the customer, or someone else will”.  He acknowledged that S. was doing her job in upholding your return policy, he acknowledged my frustrations as a customer, and he exercised his ability to make sure that I left your store as a happy customer.

I am certain that I could find the same products that I buy at Target at other retail locations.  I am sure that I could spend less money, in many situations, by shopping at other retail locations; if for no other reason than I would avoid your brilliant marketing which encourages me to spend far more money than I ever anticipated.  However, by shopping at other locations I would compromise on the type of employee that I would interact with.  And I am not willing to do that.

In closing, thank you.  Thank you for hiring employees like S. and O. Thank you for promoting an employee like O.  I have no clue what O. may have said to S. when I left, but I respect the integrity he demonstrated while dealing with myself and with S.  If all of your managers treat customers the way that O. does, you guys are on the right track.

Sincerely,

EE

 

As someone who has sent many a letter to many a company in the past, I was beyond pleased to see a response in my Inbox from R. later that same day.  His response was as follows:

Erin,

Thank you very much for your kind words and more importantly intelligent understanding of the business. These are exactly the types of situations I embrace with my team and most certainly with my leadership team. When I had the opportunity to lead this store two years ago these are the types of principles I wanted to establish. 1) Take care of the guest 2) Take care of the team member and 3) Make a good business decision all within the same situation. It makes me extremely happy to receive this feedback and you can rest assured that I will share it with all parties.  Thank you again for taking the time to e-mail me and share your story. I am very happy to have you as a guest at Target and my store. Thanks again and see you soon! R

So what, exactly did all of this accomplish?

1. I got what I wanted, which was to return my product for a better one.

2. Two employees received acknowledgements for a job well done.

3.  A manager received reassurance that he is doing a good job with his employees.

4.  A complete stranger was able to recognize my supreme intelligence.

5.  It was determined that flattery does get you everywhere, as I returned to Target today to spend even more money.

And the cycle continues!

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Karen Jo Crouse
    Sep 10, 2012 @ 15:40:38

    As one who has shopped with you many times, I can attest to the fact that you are sincere about giving credit where credit is due. This is not the first email you have sent on behalf of an individual who exemplifies the best in customer service and I know it won’t be the last.

    Reply

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