I recently went to the customer service counter at Target and the clerk there left before processing my transaction. She held out her scanner and said “I have to go deliver these pick-up orders first.”

It seems nonsensical that the person responsible for staffing the main service desk also is required to leave it. Why would they designate that person — instead of someone without a fixed workstation — to go into the storage area to retrieve orders and then to deliver them outside?

It appears that Target is incentivizing a different audience than in the past and giving priority to those who do not even come into the store. First, the pick-up lanes overtook all the best parking places, then those customers are given preference for service. As more perks go to those who shop only online, more frustrations mount for those who actually come into the store. I wonder whether they are trying to promote doing a “Target run” in person or intentionally encouraging more people to stay in their vehicle and treat the store like a distribution locker?

As you shift your business operations to accommodate emergence from the COVID-cocoon or to provide additional options for your customers, take a step back and consider your overall incentive structure. What are you truly trying to accomplish? Who are your priority people to serve? And then align your resources accordingly rather than spreading them thin. Trying to serve everyone never works out well.

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