When most of us think about Target and birthdays, it's the place you go to find stuff to wrap up and give as a gift. For one 5-year-old, however, it wasn't about the gifts. According to Good Morning America, all he wanted was to work at a Target for a day.
So, Target--being Target--said yes.
When 5-year-old Cooper and his family showed up on his birthday, he was greeted by employees who gave him a name tag and a walkie-talkie.
And, from the story, it looks like Target went all-in on Cooper's request. They gave him a tour of the store, let him scan products, and sent messages back and forth with him over the radios. They even gave him an employee discount, so he could pick out some gifts for his birthday.
Now, believe it or not, this isn't a story about a 5-year-old's birthday. It's actually about a much more important lesson that has nothing to do with birthdays and everything to do with how you delight your customers.
Here's why you should pay attention.
Every company has rules.
It would have been easy for the store in Rossford, Ohio to say no when Cooper's mom reached out and asked about her son's birthday wish. "I'm sorry, that's not something we're able to do," would have been a perfectly reasonable response.
Everyone would have understood, because every company has rules. Companies like to call them "policies," but let's be honest, that's just a marginally less offensive name for rules.
Rules actually serve an important purpose--they make sure you and your team know the boundaries of how to operate. They make sure everyone acts appropriately and doesn't take risks that could cause your company to be liable for things that go wrong.
But sometimes rules (or policies) get in the way of common sense, and taking care of your customers always makes sense. Taking care of your customers is exactly what happened in that Target in Rossford, Ohio.
See, if your company is so caught up in the rules, there's a pretty good chance that you'll miss an opportunity to delight your customer. That means you're missing out on scoring a win for your brand.
Your brand is a feeling.
Your brand isn't your logo, or your store layout, or the products you carry, or a set of policies--though all of those influence it. Your brand is the way people feel about your business.
Mostly, that feeling is either positive or negative based on whether or not your business lives up to the story you tell about what you value--what's most important.
The good news is that every interaction is an opportunity to reinforce that story by creating delight for your customer. Sometimes, all it takes is saying yes when you might otherwise say no.
It would have been far easier for Target to say no. It cost the company something (although admittedly, not much) to entertain Cooper and his family for his birthday. It took time and resources that could have been devoted to other things.
But that's the point. The company didn't just do the easy thing, even though the easy thing would have been perfectly reasonable. Instead it did the thing that reinforced the part of Target's mission to deliver "exceptional guest experiences."
I bet Cooper and his family are feeling pretty good about Target right now.