Several weeks ago, my wife and I headed out for a quick lunch. I had been traveling and speaking in a few cities and was glad to be home. Before lunch, we needed a few supplies and stopped at Target.
Target does a lot right. Wide, brightly lit aisles. Easy-to-find merchandise. And friendly staff who seem happy.
When I was grabbing the items I needed off the shelf, I noticed a sign. “Buy three of these items and get a $5 gift card,” one sign said. The other said, “Buy two and get another $5 gift card.” I only needed one of each item, but I thought why not take the money so I loaded up.
At the checkout counter, we paid for items and then I asked about our gift cards. We liked the kind woman who was helping us. She was efficient and the type who could build a relationship fast. “I thought about that,” she responded. “Let me check….no, this item doesn’t qualify for some reason. I know you only bought this many so you would get the card.”
She pulled open the Target brochure, looked at the item, and still couldn’t figure why it didn’t give us the cards. I explained that I checked the labels when I took the items off the shelf and that they were immediately behind the sign. She shook her head and offered to have someone go check the sign.
Immediately in my mind I pictured what would happen: A light would go off. She would get on an intercom and bellow, “Man in Aisle 9 needs a price check!” We would hold up the line, miss our lunch reservation, and a manager would come out to talk to us.
“Forget it,” I said, not wanting to cause a scene and not having any time to wait. For me, the pain wasn’t worth it. (But I’m thrifty enough that it did bother me.)
“I’m sorry,” she responded with an “I wish I could do something” attitude.
This is not a story about Target. It’s a good store. This is not a story about the checkout clerk. She was so nice we would seek out her line next time.
It’s a lesson for management. And it’s all about empowerment.