A sign of good customer service

It’s that time of the year.  The time for gathering up gift receipts (or not) and exchanging the pink all-in-one bunny pajamas, complete with floppy ears and fuzzy tail, from Aunt Sue for the new gadget you really wanted but didn’t get for Christmas.  (anyone get the Christmas Story reference? Love that movie!)

So, that’s where I found myself this week; in line at the Guest Relations counter at Target. As I was standing on line, I couldn’t help noticing this sign behind the counter.

Why couldn’t I help noticing it?  Because it was about 8 feet square on a bright Target red background.  It is Target’s return and exchange policy.  When I first read it, I had a negative reaction.  Nothing like putting a big giant sign up telling me all the ways you’re NOT going to help me.  They may as well have made it in the shape of a stop sign (octagon, right?).  But, I had a few minutes to kill in line.  So, while I snuck a picture, getting curious looks from the staff like I was taking photos of the blueprints for a top secret missile defense system, I reevaluated my response.

On further reflection – I love it!  Here’s why:

1. The sign was a clear as day.  Therefore, Target has made it clear as day how we are going to do this exchange.  There is complete transparency, no hidden clauses, footnotes or a single asterisk on the entire board.  I would much rather know going into a transaction, what the Ts & Cs are and be able to make informed decisions before I commit to the relationship.  If I didn’t like the terms I was reading I could have stepped off of that line or at least formulated my response to the exchange staff and begin the negotiation with eyes wide open

2. Mutual expectation setting and management is a key to a long term relationship.  To me, this sign managed my expectations.  And, Target continually exceeds my expectations in this area.  For this is not the first time I’ve returned or exchanged an item at Target.  And, never once have I been required to satisfy all the conditions of this policy.  On this occasion, I returned a Christmas decoration without a receipt, only armed with the credit card with which it was purchase by my wife.  Granted, it was unopened.  But that could have been viewed like trying to return the menorah the day after Hanukkah ended.

The only other suggestion to add even more transparency is to post this sign above each check out lane so folks can be fully informed before they completed their initial transaction.  This effectively, among other benefits, delivers the message that the sale is the beginning of my relationship with Target, not the end.

So, how’s that for a positive spin? (I’m inspired by Terry Starbucker to see more of life as the glass half full)

(In case you couldn’t read the picture, here’s the verbatim:
“A receipt dated within 90 days is required for all returns and exchanges.  All returns must be new, unused and contain all original packaging and accessories.  Some items cannot be returned if opened, including music, movies, video games, software and collectibles.  Some items are subject to a 15% restocking fee, including camcorders, digital cameras, portable DVD players and portable electronics.  Other restrictions may apply”)

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