Right on Target…

Right on Target

Last November, several days ahead of Black Friday, which bled effortlessly into Cyber Monday, retailers were offering big discounts on a large number of items. So I, along with many others had an inbox pregnant with offers from a multitude of brands (I must unsubscribe to some of these I thought to myself as I swiped my finger across the screen on my iPhone to delete most of these – my wife must have thought I was on Tinder!).

One offer though caught my eye a week. It was from Target, and I happened upon it just as I was about to go to sleep that night. It still amazes me that the world of commerce is assessable from a smart phone 24 hours a day. As I drifted off I was mildly aware that I had purchased a 50 inch TV.  Honestly, I don’t need another TV I thought to myself as I fell asleep – forgetting how I even put my phone into it’s cradle on the night stand as I finally dozed off.

I woke early the next morning to head to the gym. In the back of my head was this lingering query. ‘Did I buy a 50 inch TV last night?’  When you’re a tad impulsive and have a selective memory the UPS guy seems to increasingly surprise me at the front door.  It’s like have my Birthday randomly in the week.  So 3 days later the UPS guy is holding his handheld device for me to sign while on the floor leaning up beside him is my 50 inch TV.. ‘Yup – I ordered that’ I thought to myself as I signed and closed the door.

So of course my wife asked me what we needed another TV for? I had no answer that made any sense so we planned to go to the nearest Target to return it (this Sunday).  En route she told me to expect the worst.  Expect long lines and a ton of questions demanding to know why I was returning this item.  Would I be handed a fist of store credits? I needed to work on my explanation. It better be good…

Vanessa was working the bright red service counter at the Target in White Plains that morning.. We headed up to the counter – Only one person working there but no line.. OK – so far so good but still I had my carefully rehearsed account prepared. The TV was too big I mumbled to myself, it wasn’t the one I meant to order and so on…

Well to my utter delight Vanessa could not have been more helpful.  She simply scanned the item and offered to either return money to the card connected to my paypal account or TO GIVE ME CASH!.   Well I am in their store – feeling like I just got money I wasn’t expecting, and that money was in a wad of crisply laid out $20s.  It got me thinking, as a current AND potential customer I was in the very best state of mind. My sentiment was positive and more importantly my attitude to Target at that moment was not one of ambivalence – far from it. I was a very happy customer, well served with money in my pocket in their store.

But as you now consider this perfect storm at scale, here is the question to service managers every where as you serve your customers on-line.  How are you capturing these precious moments – these moments of positive sentiment and connecting them with opportunities to sell more ,to do more with that customer??  To go beyond offering great service and to convert the most authentic service moment into doing more business. Not to push it down my throat – Vanessa didn’t try to sell me a new TV – but to find a natural connection, a genuine opportunity.  As you increasingly serve customers over social channels like twitter, Facebook Messenger and the like – consider this.. You can now identify that moment where you convert a negative customer into a positive one and in that conversion you have direct access and the opportunity to do more with that customer.

Be wise in your approach but think about the opportunity.

Paul Johns
About the author: 

Paul Johns is the Chief Marketing Officer at McGraw-Hill Education.  Mr. Johns was previously the CMO at Conversocial, and the Global Head of Marketing and Communications for Thompson Reuters.  Paul has contributed a several articles to ExecutiveVine.com.  Follow Paul on Twitter and LinkedIn.