Image for Customer Experience Improvement PostMy adult daughter had only a day to use up the money in her work-based flexible spending account before it expired, so she went to Target to stock up on contact lense solution.  It was on sale at a deep discount and so she put 5 bottles into her cart. Two boxes of the solution were going to get her a $5 gift card each so, with her 5 bottles, she was going to get $10 in “free” money from Target.

At the check-out register, however, technology became her foe. The “slide-your-card” feature on the typical credit card reader simply wouldn’t read her spending account card.  She had double-checked the account before heading to the store, to make sure she knew what the balance was, and she knew it should have worked.

Still, the card just would not “take” in that card reader.  A manager was called over. He tried it over and over again. He rebooted something or another. No go.  

Finally, he apologized and said he just couldn’t figure it out.  She, however, could not check with the billing firm that managed her account until two days later, as it was a Saturday and that firm was only open on weekdays.  Besides, the card was expiring the next day! She was obviously frustrated. She really wanted the deal with the gift cards, too, which she was sure was also expiring soon.

The manager could only suggest she leave the items with the customer service desk, and then come back on Monday after resolving the problem with the flexible spending folks. He then gave her two $5 Target gift cards “for her trouble,” even though she was leaving his store empty-handed.

The problem was, in fact, with the flexible spending firm, which meant that Target was not the culprit. Nevertheless, that Target manager “paid” a small fee to keep a very loyal customer happy, and therein lies today’s lesson: Even if it’s not your fault, apologize anyway. Do something anyway.

When the flexible-spending snafu was resolved, my daughter did go back to retrieve her items, only to discover that the gift card deal was STILL going on, and they gave her another two gift cards.  Today she feels like she made $20 from her favorite of all stores, which just became an even bigger favorite in her mind!