How Target is gaining back trust in midst of a second snafu

The retailer revealed it sold faulty gift cards to customers over the holidays. A look at how it’s responding to this second wave of bad news in weeks.

Target can’t seem to catch a break this holiday season. Following the infamous breach in its payment system that hit stores all across the U.S. this past November and December, word has just gotten out involving another PR nightmare. This time the store has been the target of, you’ve got it, poor employee training. Wait. What? Yes.

It was confirmed on the eve of 2014 that Target employees mistakenly scanned the incorrect barcode for what some claim to be up to 40,000 gift cards purchased by customers in December, as Fox News reported. With an investigation looming for its privacy breach, how is Target going to recover from another misstep?

Perhaps we can look at this fiasco in a different way by looking at what the corporation is doing to “save face” and instill confidence in its customers. Here’s a look at three PR tactics Target is using to gain back trust:

1. They have publicly acknowledged the mistake.

The one thing you don’t hear Target doing is deny that anything happened. Though it isn’t exactly mentioning exact figures, it’s letting its customers know that a mistake was made. By honestly communicating that an unfavorable event occurred, it’s taking responsibility for its part. Open and honest communication will give customers assurance that if there is an issue in the future, Target will offer similar communication.

2. They have apologized.

Immediately after acknowledging the mistake, Target took the next step and apologized for any inconvenience to its customers, who it refers to as “guests.” Target’s CEO Greg Steinhafel said, “Our guests’ trust is our top priority at Target and we are committed to making this right.”

Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder apologized for the gift card error in an email sent to the Associated Press: “We are aware that some Target gift cards were not fully activated and apologize for the inconvenience.”

Target took it upon itself to not only acknowledge the mistake but apologize for customers not receiving superior customer service in both instances. We commend Target for publicly apologizing for two events that can leave a heavy mark on their guests’ impression of them.

3. They are working to make it right.

In the case of the improperly activated (or inactivated) gift cards, Target agreed to honor the balance that was to be on the card. It assured customers that it would be able to call the Target Corporation call center or go to their closest Target store’s guest services department to have the issue fixed, regardless of whether or not they have a receipt.

In both cases, Target made sure its customers knew about the issue, apologized for the inconvenience and pointed them in the right direction to getting the problem solved. Target made sure it told the public how it was going to make it right and set up the expectation that it would follow through on its promise.

Even though these two episodes have admittedly cost Target dearly, it’s showing everyone how to make amends and slowly turn around a PR nightmare. By acknowledging its mistakes, apologizing for them and making them right, the Target Corporation is well on its way to regaining the trust of its customers.

Courtney Gordner is a blogger/journalist with a love for marketing and PR. Read more from her on her blog, Talk Viral.

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