Recently, I had the opportunity to experience customer service delivered at two very different levels. In each case the business had the opportunity to serve the customer (me) and deliver great customer service. In one case they did, in the other they did not. Here are the two situations, I’ll start with the positive experience…
Over this past Christmas weekend, I had the misfortune of having my car breakdown. It was not undriveable, just a check engine light and running rough. So, early in the day on Saturday (December 24th) I called Denny Hecker’s Rosedale Hyundai to find out when the service department opened so I could bring in my car as soon as possible. A pleasant woman told me that the service department would be open on Monday (December 26th) at 7 am. She also made the effort to check the service department schedule and let me know that if I got the car in right away at 7 am, there appeared to be openings for my vehicle to be worked on. I thanked her and hung up.
Being I was told the Service Department was open on Monday and I had Monday off from work, I made sure I was up early and in line at the service door at 6:55 am – I needed to get this done. When I pulled up and things were clearly locked up and no one was there, my hope faded a little. However, I was determined to get the car fixed (a task that, due to my work schedule, usually goes to my wife) so I waited. I knew sooner or later some one had to be coming in to work.
Finally, at 8:15 am (I had been waiting for over an hour), someone showed up for work. Keep in mind, this is not a Service department person, this is the General Sales Manager for the dealership (Jim). Jim, walked right up to my car and asked me how he could help. I explained my situation, that I had been told service was open today and that my car was not working correctly. I didn’t even have to ask for service, he just delivered. Within 15 minutes, I had a loaner vehicle from the dealership, and my car was first in line to be looked at on Tuesday morning when the Service department was back working.
Finally, let me end this section with a few facts.
- Jim did not know me at all, we had never met prior to Monday morning.
- I was the first thing he had to deal with on the Monday after Christmas and I was a problem – not fun.
- I’m going to go out on a limb and say that dealing with loaner vehicles and service issues is not something, as the General Sales Manager, that Jim needs to do on a regular basis.
- I didn’t buy the vehicle from Denny Hecker’s Rosedale Hyundai, I was simply looking to them for vehicle service
- I left the dealership with a slip of paper, driving a brand new $30,000.00 loaner vehicle. No big production, no credit check, no credit card deposit, just my ID and Insurance info.
Jim made me a customer for life. I can’t say I’ll never purchase a car anywhere else, I might. But I will always go to Denny Hecker’s Rosedale Hyundai first and give them an opportunity to make a sale. They were fair, helpful, and courteous. THANKS SO MUCH!
My second customer service experience happened last night (December 29th) at the Target in Woodbury, MN. I have two boys (one 4 1/2 years old the other 1 1/2) and one of them had gotten an Aquadoodle for Christmas, a toy we all ready have. No big deal, right? Yeah, that’s what I thought too…
Over dinner last night, I made a promise to my son that later that night we would go, return the Aquadoodle he had gotten for Christmas and exchange it for the Toy Story 2 DVD that had come out recently. He has been looking forward to getting this video for quite a while and he was very excited to get it. So after dinner, off to Target we go, Aquadoodle in hand. This is when I got my first taste of Target’s brand of customer service and their new “Return Policy”.
I have been a Target customer for as long as I can remember. Growing up in southern Minnesota, I can remember taking trips to “The Cities” to go shopping. Target was always one of our main destinations (along with Best Buy), in fact, I would bet that we were shopping at Target when there were no more than a handful of stores in total. I have always really enjoyed shopping at Target.
I approached the customer service desk with my two boys and was promptly helped by a nice young lady. I told her what I wanted to do, that my son had gotten the Aquadoodle as a gift, we had no receipt, and that we wanted to exchange it for the Toy Story 2 DVD. This is where the problem starts. The customer service person informs me that, without a receipt, we need to exchange it for something “from the same department”, meaning another toy. I calmly explain that we don’t want nor need another toy, we want the Toy Story 2 DVD. She says, “No, our computers don’t work that way. I can’t do that.”
This is a simple $20.00 exchange, nothing lost, nothing gained. What’s the problem? I’m not sure I understand, so I ask a few more questions. Could I get store credit? No. I explain that I have been able to in the past do these sorts of transactions and the computers have had no difficulty, but she’s not budging. By this time, my oldest son is upset because he thinks we’re not going to be able to get the Toy Story 2 DVD he wants and has been looking forward to all night. So, in an effort to avoid a scene, I take my Aquadoodle back out to the car, go back into the store and purchase the Toy Story 2 DVD. Looking back, I really should have driven to WalMart or Toy’s R Us to purchase the video, but I wasn’t really thinking clearly.
I understand that fraud and theft have led Target to this state. I know that they have gotten taken for a lot of money by people who have abused their return policy in the past. However, I’M NOT ON E OF THOSE PEOPLE. I always return with a receipt when possible, and not very frequently. A simple check of my customer record would show you that. I know that Target knows how much I shop, how much I return, where I shop, what checking accounts I use, what credit cards I use, where I live, and probably have good idea of how much money I make. Why not a simple check of my history. If there are no flags to indicate that I am a rabid thief, why not do this for me? Doing so would have been good customer service, not doing so just showed that they don’t care about me as a customer.
Finally, here a few facts around this tale.
- It involved less than $20.00
- I have shopped at Target for 20 + years
- No service was given, nor was any effort made to help me
- I spend literally thousands of dollars a year at Target, this transaction involved a tiny fraction of a percent of my value as a longtime customer
Target made me re-think where I do the majority of my discount retail shopping. I can go other places, maybe next time I will.