Management Term Paper on Customer Service at Target

Customer Service at Target

Customer service is one of the most important elements of business organizations. It can easily decide the fate of an organization given that it deals directly with the customers. Good customer service is therefore key in developing customer loyalty, and ensuring that customers return to buy from the company. The purpose of customer service is also to ensure that the organization can remain profitable, attract new customers as it retains those it already has (Sun et al. 87). Customer service is particularly important for the retail industry where the organization almost entirely deals directly with the customers. Proper Handling of customers therefore is chief to the continuity and success of organizations in the retail segment. A retailer, Target (one of the biggest retail companies in the world) has developed one of most successful customer service worldwide. Calling its customers “guests”, the company has been able establish customer loyalty as well being recognized as having one of the best customer services in the world. How then does the retail chain recognize and deal with customer service across all its divisions worldwide?    

As one of the largest retail chain stores in the world, Target has developed and executed a good customer service which keeps up with the constant evolutions and revolutions in the retail industry, as well as beat competition  from retail giants such as Wal-Mart, Costco, Macy’s and Sears among other international retailers. One of the unique features of Target is its target market, and therefore its distinctive approach to customer service. The company’s median age for its shoppers is 46 years, with average earnings of more than $50,000. According to the company, more than 40 percent of its shoppers are college graduates and employed in managerial positions or professional occupations (Target n.p.).

Another feature of the company’s shoppers is that more than 80 percent are females, and 38 percent have children at home. In addition, the company’s customers profile include customers who are not only concerned about the location and the manner of their shopping, but also aware of the price and value of their shopping (Target n.p.). Moreover, being young and with stable incomes, the guest are trend savvy, smart and concerned for their communities.

The identification of such statistics and its customers profile is one of the major strengths of the company, important in its identification and execution of customer service. This includes provision of variety in choices of goods and services that resonate with the guests’ interests. The possibility for the collection of such customer data is made possible through their unique approach to customer service, whereby the company assigns shoppers unique codes refereed to within the company as Guest ID (Duhiggn.p.). Important for the company’s identification of its customers’ profile is its ability to align its services with customer expectation, its vision and mission statement and overall improved customer service. At the core of Target’s mission statement is the guest, which the company explicitly informs as “outstanding value, continuous innovation and exceptional guest experiences” (Target n.p.).

According to Klie, giving a unique customer experience is one of the competitive differentiators sought by many companies (34). However, attaining such differentiation is elusive for most companies, and while they may have set it as a goal, many fail to achieve it or lack any conclusive strategies for attaining the goal (Klie 34). The failure to achieve better customer service therefore is the lack of the right information. In the argument for failure of most companies in customer service, it is considerable to note, “Companies have traditionally looked at customer service purely from a financial vantage point. They have applied business-centered goals, like cutting costs, making money, and beating the competition, to their contact centers, and used indirect metrics, such as automation and containment rates, script adherence, and average handling times, as the guiding principles by which these contact centers were measured” (Klie 34).

Such metrics for customer service are insensitive to the prevailing evolution of customer service. The service is currently inclined towards a customer-centric model, moving away from the traditional business-centric approach. The new customer service is therefore a hyper-contextualized experience focusing on extending to the customers, services in the form they want, in relation to the time and place that they want it (Klie 34).

By discovering this as the current trend towards customer service, Target has been able to offer not only unique customer service to its guests, it has surprised and surpassed their expectations, giving the customers eccentric customer service, how and when they want it.Key to offering the unique customer service has been the identification of its target market. As earlier indicated, the retail store has professional, college graduate women with an average of age of 46 and an average income of $55,000 as its target market (Target n.p.). With knowledge of their target market, the company has therefore been able to develop one of the most comprehensive and unique customer service for any retail chain store in the world (Duhiggn.p.).

With the knowledge that different customers have different needs and preferences, as well as costs associated with changing the stores they shop at (Sun et al. 88), it is imperative that companies see the implications of such features on customer service. Therefore, based on the idea of customers “expecting more and paying less” and the uniqueness of every guest, Target’s customer service is as eccentric as its individual guests are. The fact that customers buy different items from different places is disturbing to retailers, given that some, such as Target, have most items ranging from foodstuffs to electronics, apparel to toys (Duhiggn.p.). Getting these customers to purchase all these goods from one place is therefore part of a company’s customer service. For Target therefore, customer service goes beyond the purchases to making the brand a lifestyle, a trend that the customer can relate to at any time in their life.

Therefore, with the uniqueness of each customer, and the appreciation of the uniqueness by giving out a unique Guest ID, Target is capable of collecting customer information, and therefore monitoringwhat customers buy. This way, the company is able to send targeted advert coupons, offers and information on new arrivals, which will interest the customer (Duhiggn.p.). The information collected, along with the company’s research and development team, helps Target identify trends and habits among customers, as well as those outside the realm of the retail chain, but with implication on the chain store.

Among the trends identified online shopping and payment, which most customers have been taking up. For this matter therefore, customer service for Target had to move from that offered within the tar-and-motor business premise, to the online platform. This is particularly important since the online platform offers the company a better way of interacting with customers, getting their feedback through these online mediums such as the company’s website and social media pages.Target’s response to the consumer’s movement online has included the addition of Wi-Fi connectivity to stores. This way the customers are able to make payment at the cashier, or at the company’s website (Target.com) on their mobile devices (Dishmann.p). Customer service in this case therefore moves beyond just the promotion, to getting feedback from the customer and acting accordingly for the improvement of service delivery.

Much of Target’s customer service hinges on the idea of ensuring customer satisfaction, and that customers get what they want, when they want it. The customer service has however moved beyond these confines, to the identification of the unique moments in the customer’s lives that are capable of changing the spending habits of the consumers (Duhiggn.p.).The service in this case becomes timely structured to skew the customers’ habits towards the retail chain.This is especially in connection with providing variety, a wide range of products and customer service.

The uniqueness in the retail chain’s customer service goes beyond the offering low prices and variety in their products. An important element has been providing customers with an experience far better than other department stores. Unlike most departmental stores that are cluttered, with toppled stacks and blocked aisles (Warnican.p.), Target offers wider aisles, which in essence, provide a freer and better shopping experience than the ones found in other retail stores. The company’s difference in customer experience moves beyond the freer aisle to the speed at which guests move through checkout lines. This is in addition to the provision, within the store, phones, which guests can call and ask for assistance at any point in the store (Warnican.p.). Customer service therefore, is the differentiating factor between the company and other major departmental stores such as Kmart and Walmart.

The Target experience is not only targeted towards the customers, but also includes its employees.Teamwork and collaboration areprincipal to the store’s operations. Customer service for the retail store therefore begins with collaborative communication among the employees, who in the end provide the desired customer service (Dishmann.p). The collaborative spirit also includes the company’s suppliers such as Levi Strauss, Marc Jacobs and other suppliers to the retail store.

Complaints have however been rife over the disjointed nature of the online and offline services. Additionally, customers have also complained over slow feedback from the company, especially when dealing with issues concerning goods’ returns and clarification of other concerns. An additional concern is the way the company uses customer information to barrage customers with promotions, include those that customers do not know about (like the teenager’s father who thought Target was encouraging her daughter to get pregnant) (Duhiggn.p.). While this may work to the advantage of the company in advertising and marketing, it presents pertinent issues on privacy and customer information.

Customer service is among the key competencies of Target. Its customer service differentiates it from other retail stores, helping in the development of customer loyalty.  By giving customer service a priority, the company has been able to grow beyond the boundaries of US to become an international household name among its most ardent shoppers. Technology has been at the center of the revolution of the company’s customer service, even though it has presented issues with privacy and feedback. Conclusively however, the quality of customer service remains Target’s most value assets and differentiating factor from its competitors.

Work Cited

Dishman, Linda. “How Target CEO Inspires Teamwork at a Massive Scale.” Fast Company, 2012, October 10. Ebscohost

Duhigg, Charles. “How Companies Learn Your Secrets.” The New York Times, 2012, February 16. Ebscohost

Klie, Leonard. “The New Measure of Customer Service Success.”Customer Relationship Management, 2012.Ebscohost

Sun, Baohong et al. “Ignoring Your Best Customer?” Journal of Relationship Marketing, 6.3/4(2008):87-116. Ebscohost

Target.Target’s Unique Guest. Target.com, 2013.web. 14 June 2014

Warnica, Richard. “Target’s Friendly Invasion.” Canadian Business, 85.16(2012).Ebscohost