Laura Rowley’s On Target: How the World’s Hottest Retailer Hit a Bull’s-Eye, describes Target’s customer service in the 1980s as nothing short of listless, indifferent interaction. Now, Target is one of the world’s largest retailers. And here’s partly how that happened:
In 1989 Target’s executives borrowed an idea from The Walt Disney Company’s playbook to change the very way they did business. It wasn’t a big logo design overhaul. It wasn’t a branding and color change. Instead, Target sought to emphasize the importance of dedicated, expedient customer service.
Target started designing intensive employee training modules, now known as Target University, to help employees project a sense of care and individualized attention for each customer. They encouraged managers to make quick, “common sense” decisions that benefited the customer, like allowing flexible refunds and substitute purchases.
But Target didn’t stop there. Target’s executives doubled down on the notion that would later become its tagline: “Expect More. Pay Less.” For Target to be different from the competition, it had to think different. This wasn’t as seemingly cliché a notion in 1989 as it would become in the post-iPhone era.
At Disney World, for example, costumed characters are not referred to as such. Snow White — and whatever poor souls are in the Monsters Inc. costumes that day — are not employees or actors, but “Cast Members.” Likewise, Target from thereon out referred to its employees as “Team Members,” who then considered each customer a “Guest.”
The word “customer” is pedestrian. Timeless, but pedestrian. I hear it at least 50 times a day, every day. But a “Cause” is different.
By the next year, the first Target Greatland, which is 50% bigger than a regular Target, opened in suburban Minneapolis. Not bad for a company that used to lag behind Kmart.
Target’s success is the result of what happens when you pay attention to minute details. And when you work for a company that helps thousands of nonprofits have online presences, it gets dangerously easy to miss the small things. That’s why we refer to our clients as “Causes,” not “customers.”
The word “customer” is pedestrian. Timeless, but pedestrian. I hear it at least 50 times a day, every day. But a “Cause” is different. You might think that’s an entirely arbitrary naming scheme, but that’s kind of the point. Because if you don’t think of each Cause on a case-by-case basis — what they do, what they need, who they interact with — then the Causes are no longer unique. Pretty soon after that, they won’t be your “customers,” either.
Putting our Causes’ priorities before our own means that we have the ability to help ourselves by helping them even more. Because they have to pay attention to other fine details, too. And we felt like celebrating their hard work.
Last December we ran a contest to see which cause had the best-optimized, best-designed donation forms on their website. We received a number of great submissions and had a hard time making the choice ourselves. So we put it to a vote.
We linked to a survey on our email newsletter, posted a poll on our Facebook page, asked our Salesforce® HUB group members to participate… the whole nine yards. We asked participants to rank the top eight forms from 1 to 8 — 1 being the respondent’s most favorite, and 8 being the least favorite.
Without further ado, let’s go to the winner’s circle.