How personal can Target’s customer service get?
Target has been making big investments in its team — a strategic shift that Target CEO Brian Cornell, speaking at a keynote session at ShopTalk in Las Vegas, called one of the single biggest changes the chain has made. Mr. Cornell was joined on stage by Bill Smith, CEO of Shipt. The men were interviewed by Oliver Chen, managing director at Cowen and Company.
“We’re investing a lot in hours, staffing, training and development and creating experts within our stores,” Mr. Cornell said. “Because we know as we listen to our guests in certain categories, they want someone there who is an expert. When they shop Target for beauty, they want a beauty expert that they’re coming to. In apparel, they want someone who [will help them] put the whole outfit together. When they’re in a department like food and beverage, they want a food and beverage expert to interact with, let alone when they’re shopping for technology.”
Mr. Cornell indicated that the chain was investing in expertise in core departments in which the customer expectation is for an interaction with a knowledgeable employee.
Mr. Smith described a customer-first service experience as the most “special part of Shipt.”
“The same person who is picking your avocados and selecting your eggs is the person who shows up at your door,” said Mr. Smith. “The person who’s picking items is the same person who shows up to the kitchen. That’s what we hear from our members all the time that they love about Shipt.”
Messrs. Cornell and Smith characterized the relationship with Shipt as embodying this new customer service paradigm with thousands of Target brand loyalists shopping for other people who love the retailer.
“That’s what’s going to separate us from some of the competitors,” said Mr. Cornell, “that philosophy of making sure it’s a good experience.”
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Is Target wise to invest heavily in its customer services teams? Will Target be able to attract the skilled talent to actualize Brian Cornell’s vision of true experts supporting customers in core categories? Do you agree that Shipt will be an embodiment of Target’s new customer service paradigm?