A Disgruntled Customer – the Last Supply Chain Link

Target.com customer service experience was less than satisfactory

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We all understand the incredible volume of items that pass through distribution centers and transportation carriers during the holidays, but when your package is lost it can be so frustrating.

I ordered a gift for Christmas from Target.com just as I have many times in the past. When the package didn’t arrive in 10 days, I went on line to track it and could see from the trace information that it was scanned at the Target warehouse, but never made it into the UPS system. UPS then confirmed that they never picked it up.

Unfortunately, my Target.com customer service experience was less than satisfactory. The Target people on the phone were obviously trained to deal with frustrated customers: they used my name repeatedly, they acknowledged my frustration, they spoke in a calm voice, they said “unfortunately” over and over. But in the end, they took absolutely no action, stating that I must wait 10 business days just in case, some miracle happens, and it might leave the warehouse to be delivered long after Christmas.

As Supply Chain professionals, we need to remember that our jobs are not just about moving boxes, but also about satisfying our customers and remedying situations as quickly as possible. The supply chain is comprised of a lot of links including the last one that touches the customer. If any of the links are broken, the whole chain is broken.

My experience with Target.com points to another serious problem: training. The Customer Service people I spoke with were obviously trained in how to handle an angry customer, but had no clue about the other components of supply chain. I asked them to call the DC and then call UPS, but they refused. I pointed out that the shipment never left their distribution center, but they were clueless. This points to a lack of supply chain training and understanding. With just a little more exposure to the entire process, they might have been willing to help me.

Epilogue: Eventually, Target.com did offer me a refund, but this didn’t happen until I posted an entry on their Facebook site and Tweeted about the problem. Even though I paid with PayPal, the refund comes in the form of a Target gift card. What a shame.


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About the Author

Rosemary Coates, Executive Director
Rosemary Coates's Bio Photo

Ms. Coates is the Executive Director of the Reshoring Institute and the President of Blue Silk Consulting, a Global Supply Chain consulting firm. She is a best-selling author of five supply chain management books including: 42 Rules for Sourcing and Manufacturing in China and Legal Blacksmith - How to Avoid and Defend Supply Chain Disputes. Ms. Coates lives in Silicon Valley and has worked with over 80 clients worldwide. She is also an Expert Witness for legal cases involving global supply chain matters. She is passionate about Reshoring.

View Rosemary's author profile.


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