The New Target CEO's Incognito In-Store Appearance: Actionable Information Gathering

Posted: 2015.07.31

It wouldn't be out of the ordinary for a CEO from America's third largest retailer to show up at a store to speak to customers - after all, it makes for great press. But what Brian Cornell, the new CEO of Target, did recently was as new to the company as he is.

Being the first chief executive officer of the retailer hired from outside of the company, it is no surprise that the first thing he did was try something new to help the struggling company. Showing up "incognito" and getting genuine feedback from customers has allowed him a rare glimpse into a world that few higher-ups get exposed to. Like a general visiting a battlefield, Cornell has seen things first-hand - and this is what has given him an edge.

When Cornell enlisted the help of local loyal Target shoppers to gather feedback from customers shopping in real time at a Target in Dallas, he was able to hear genuine, in-the-moment feedback about what his customers liked or didn't like about the store. Compare this to the former visits of CEOs that were more about pomp and circumstance than they were anything else, and you can see why honest, face-to-face feedback is better.

A Human Connection

What this really demonstrates is that interacting with a real person is far more valuable to a shopper than filling out an impersonal survey (online or otherwise). People are more likely to say what's on their mind in the moment, and will be more forthcoming with their feelings. Taking impersonal surveys after the point of experience will lead to a lot of data that can be misleading or misinterpreted. Data gathered in-store is data that can really be acted upon to improve your business.

Dealing with large corporations that have too long a line of bureaucracy can be frustrating for customers, and instead of dealing with the problem, most will just either stop shopping there, or shop less frequently. What Brian Cornell's surprise incognito visit to a Target in Dallas shows us is that real time in-store info on customers is invaluable, and that in order to get good feedback, you need to make a human connection. This means that your in-store surveys have to be properly administered by experienced staff. That's where Custom Intercept Solutions comes in.