Apologizing when you've disappointed and under-performed is hard, not to mention when you're a billion dollar brand who relies on customer satisfaction to secure repeat visits. When Target announced that it planned to enter the Canadian marketplace in 2011, consumers (and stock brokers) were adamant that Target could deliver on its tagline of "Expect More, Pay Less" despite for years the public perception that US brands operating, or even shipping to Canada, would charge higher prices. Regardless of this fact, Target positioned itself on a pedestal of customer expectations that was only their's to fall from - and they did.  

A little more than a year into operations, Target Canada's 127 new and retrofitted ‎Zellers depots across the country have lost over a billion dollars, and are continuing to sink into the red; the blame falling on everything from inefficient management and oversight; to poor distribution that led to empty shelves; and yes - to higher costs than customers expected after getting used to its jaw-dropping American prices. With its Canadian head recently disposed of, and continuous statements to counter rumours of withdrawal - Target has taken the unusual step of apologizing, not with a press release, but with the faces of Target you see and interact with every day. 

So, what can we learn from this approach?

It's OK to say you messed up.

Target knows that success in Canada hinges on its ability to restoring customer trust. After feeling disappointed with their experience, ‎customers need to connect with Target on a more emotional level in order to build back that rapport. By putting a face to the apology through interviews with staff at various levels, this video helps customers empathize with these Canadian employees rather than direct attention at the suits.  

Stay positive.

It would be easy for Target to issue a press release stating  'all is fixed', but words on a page (in isolation) would do little in this instance to evoke emotion. Instead, Target utilizes encouraging music and dialogue that focuses on the lessons learned throughout this process, identifying each challenge and directly following it with a positive solution or action they are taking. By showcasing how they are continuing to invest in the Canadian operations rather than shifting to austerity mode, Target is actively demonstrating that they are committed to resurrecting themselves in the eyes of Canadians. 

Show you care.

Target is fully aware that as a large, big box retailer; Canadians have little to no reason to care whether or not they are forced out of this market. This is why it's important that Target's video focuses on how they are dedicated to improving the lives of residents in the communities they work in through outreach events, and contributing to local causes. Goodwill is earned, not bought - Target realizes this and is primed to take the necessary steps to do so. After all, when all else falls, transparency can often be your best friend.  

 

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