MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Target registries are operational after a national power outage on Saturday disrupted purchases for hours.
But society's response is just as important as solving the problem. Jon Austin, a communications consultant who has worked in crisis management for Northwest Airlines for years, said Target had handled the situation very well, but could have communicated more real-time updates to customers.
On Saturday afternoon, while the entire Target registry system had become dark, the information quickly circulated online. Some even labeled it "Tarmageddon".
"The first news of this case was probably broadcast on social media: a person checking his phone was queuing," said Austin.
When things go wrong, companies call Austin. He knows the manual to follow in case of disaster.
"There are some generally accepted rules. One is to be quick, be careful, there are no more weekends, holidays or evenings, "Austin said.
It took a long time, but Target finally tweeted, recognizing the situation and promising updates as soon as possible.
"I would give them a B. They were fast, it looked like they were above, they turned the system on," Austin said.
The next update on Twitter took place about three hours after the initial tweet, saying the problem had been solved.
"It probably took them longer than they expected, certainly, and I would say that during this period they might have been able to communicate a few more times," Austin said.
But Austin sees an improvement over how Target handled its data breach in 2013.
"They have been very quiet for too long about it," he said. "I think this has been widely judged inside and outside of Target as a bad strategy."
Austin says companies have ceased operations for mismanaging such situations, but do not think the incident will hurt the plant.
"I guess in five weeks, in five days, we know that many people will not remember that this event happened," Austin said.
It's Target's job this week to redirect the conversation, but Mr. Austin said that customers usually forgive if you contact them.
"I think you have to do things," said Austin. "Then suddenly, a little bit maybe, people feel better going to Target than before."
According to a TARGET spokesperson, the company also received on Sunday information about payment problems in the stores.
Target issued the following statement in response:
"Like many other companies, Target uses NCR as a provider to accept payments. On Sunday afternoon, NCR encountered a problem in one of its data centers. Although this is not a problem in Target's technology system, Target has not been able to process card payments in some stores for approximately 90 minutes. The problem is now resolved and payments are being made normally. In addition, we can confirm that it was not a security problem and that no payment information was compromised at any time. Although it has nothing to do with Saturday's number, we know that many customers have had a frustrating shopping experience in our stores this weekend. For that, we are really sorry. We never want to disappoint guests and we work tirelessly to prevent these problems from happening again. "