Target's cheesy employee training script (and Amazon fears) leaked to Gawker

Categories: Target
Flickr Creative Commons | kevin dooley
UPDATE: Just a year later, Target came under fire for its training materials yet again -- this time getting sued for its racist training documents.

Right now our local big box chain looks like this: Its reds are vivid, its sky is blue. The only shadow in sight comes from its own logo. But Target's corporate higher-ups are worried, apparently, that the rise of online retailing -- specifically, Amazon -- could turn their empire into this:

See also:
- Target is actually cheaper than Wal-Mart, according to Bloomberg study
- Target coupons inform father of daughter's pregnancy
- Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel is overpaid

Just another boarded-up concrete box with an empty parking lot.
Flickr Creative Commons | imprint777
(This isn't really the apocalypse/future, just an east coast store boarding up for Hurricane Irene last summer).
The solution? Make the IRL (er, in real life) shopping experience "AMAZING." No, really. According to internal materials leaked to Gawker, Target has branded its employee training program "Welcome to Amazing," complete with a script just as innovative as the title would suggest.

Here's a taste of the cheese, from just the first two lines: "Good morning everyone, and welcome to our kickoff event for 'Five Weeks of Amazing.' Amazing guest service, that is." Emphasis theirs.

The package continues with a similar level of enthusiasm, but it seems to be a thinly-veiled front for some serious anxiety over the never-named online giant. Like here: "Even better, service can give our guests a unique shopping experience, one that's nearly impossible for our competitors to copy." Wal-Mart could probably copy the standard customer service lines. But for Amazon, of course, face-to-face greetings and assistance are less effective.

The threat gets more explicit on the next page: "You've got to wonder. In a world where it's so easy for guests to shop online whenever and wherever they want, is service really enough to keep guests coming to our stores?"

Target's answer to that rhetorical -- "Sure it is" -- seems even more hollow than the rest of the script.

Changing retail landscape aside, the training package is packed with similarly stilted presentation, from lines like, "it all begins with something called the service vibe," to a series explaining the difference between "A moment" and "Amazing."

Which... those don't exactly seem to be mutually exclusive? Can't something be a moment and also be amazing? Example: "A moment is when we stop, smile, and ask 'Can I Help You Find Something?' Amazing is how the whole family feels when we sincerely offer help."

By the end of Gawker's excerpt, the speaker is cued to ask, "You ready to get started?" and then reminded: "Wait for the audience's 'Yeah!'"

We're sure that, by this stage in the training, that 'Yeah!' is amazing. Or everyone is sleeping.

Gawker's commenters point out that this kind of routine is a standard intro for low-level corporate employees, but it's still painful to see the act all typed out. As one of the commenters writes, "I don't know which is the more depressing job: The minimum wage employees who have to sit through this drivel, or the schlocky copywriter who thought she was gonna be a novelist."

Click over to page two for the full scans of the script, and judge for yourself.

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