Social Media Do’s and Don’ts (Thanks Target Australia)

October 25, 2012


An Evoque Media staff member had an interesting experience this week with Target Australia, and used their social media presence to highlight how things can go very wrong if not handled by a professional. Here’s what went down.

Our staff member made an online purchase on the website of a large kitchen appliance worth about $120. It was an expensive delivery charge so she decided to choose the ‘pick up’ option during checkout – where the item would be picked up at the local store for no charge.

When navigating through the site she encountered a number of frustrating glitches but soldiered on, and finally came to the checkout page. She entered in her credit card details, clicked ‘Pay Now’ and waited…

Finally a page popped up (usually at this time a page would pop up saying something like ‘Thank you for your order, your confirmation number is XXX. You will receive a confirmation of this order via email and we will notify you when it is ready to pick up.’)

Except it didn’t.

The page that popped up was totally blank. What did that mean? Had the order processed? Was her card charged? She decided to leave it for a few hours and wait to see if an order confirmation arrived in her inbox.

It did not.

Assuming at this time the order never went through she decided to give up and purchase elsewhere. A number of days later when scanning her credit card she saw the $120 charge from Target online! Incensed, she tried to call their online department and was on hold almost 10 minutes before needing to get back to work and hung up. That evening she took to the Target Australia Facebook Wall. She wrote about her experience and asked someone to please respond and get back to her.

This is where Social Media could have turned a negative into positive.

Had Target Australia handled this correctly, customers all over Australia who like the Target Australia page would have seen “Wow, Target may have made a mistake, but they are apologizing (Responsibility), taking care of it right away (Action), and they are making it right for the customer (Compensation).

Sadly, this was not the way Target Australia chose to handle the situation. Instead they told her to call the customer service line to get someone to help her. The response and her original complaint are not viewable on their wall, instead its hidden away on a hard-to-find ‘posts by other people’ area on they’re Facebook page. Does Target have something to hide? Essentially they have made it so that no one can complain on their wall publicly. How convenient!

One might think that our staff member has no further recourse other than to call customers service and try and get them to deal with the problem. She called the Target Australia customer service 1300 753 567 number where she was kept on hold for 11 minutes (during business hours, again taking away from her work day – is Target Australia going to compensate for that?) before the recorded voice eventually said “unfortunately we are unable to take your call, please try again later” and hung up on her!

Not to be dissuaded, she called the branch where the item was originally supposed to be picked up to see if she could find out from them how to solve this mess. On that number (02) 6760 0400, she waited on hold for 11 minutes, before also being hung up on.

Way to go Target Australia, your customer service is a dismal failure!

Of course our sharp staff member has now taken to twitter to tweet about her experience and see what, if anything will come of that. The benefits (or drawbacks depending on which side of the fence you sit) of the Twitter world are that no one can delete your tweets; you own them and they remain in the cyber world forever.

As it stands now, there is still a $120 charge on our staff members account and she does not have the product or any evidence that a product was ever ordered for her. Where will this go and how many more hours of her (our) valuable time will need to be wasted before this is solved?

What we can take away from this issue is how NOT to make the same mistakes Target Australia is making.

Should you have a disgruntled customer with a legitimate complaint post on your wall or anywhere else, the way to handle it to maintain and potentially improve your image is this:


Responsibility –Don’t try and pass the buck, accept there has been a screw up and that it has inconvenienced them, most importantly, apologize! Apologies can go a long way to restoring your customer’s sense of good will.

Action – Fix the problem. Now. Keep in contact with them to let them know you re dealing with it and what the status is. Do this for as long as it takes to have the problem resolved to their satisfaction.

Compensation – Target Australia is a huge company with deep pockets, they can afford to spend a little money to make their mistakes right. A store gift card, an offer to deliver the item for free instead of our staff member having to pick up and an apology note, would do incredible things for them in terms of how they would be perceived by other customers watching this play out online – in this case on their Facebook wall.

Having this play out online (as well as dealing with the customer privately) is a good thing. They feel in control (originally she felt out of control, Target has her money and she had no way of getting her item or of even being heard by them!), while other customers are seeing that you take care of business, treat your customers and their time as valuable, and in the event you do make a mistake (which happens) you accept responsibility for your actions.

Incidentally, she said if they were to go the extra mile in making this right she would have also posted that online, so they have missed out on a great opportunity by hiding her posts from easy public viewing. The saga still plays out at this time, we will update you as to how it turns out!