Retailers Listening To The Heartbeat of Customers

This post is by Phil Crossley, Business Development Director at Teleperformance UK.

I’ve been at the Retail Week Customer Experience Summit today listening to some great speakers from right across the retail spectrum. One of the sessions I enjoyed most was exploring the future of retail and the connected consumer. It covered subjects including wearables, the Internet of Things (IoT), Augmented Reality and Contactless Payments.

Some of these technologies are a reality today. Contactless and phone payment systems are already here and are growing especially fast now that Apple Pay has launched. Wearables are common for fitness fans or those with a health problem, but most of these new technologies are still nascent.

One of the problems I foresee as we rush towards the world of the connected consumer is the trade-off between information and privacy. Most of these services work only if the customer releases information about who they are and what they are interested in. Most customers are happy to give up information freely, if they can see something in return. Facebook is a good example of this.

However, when we start including payment and loyalty systems within the mix, information security is obviously more important. It’s true that most modern smartphones have biometric security systems that can not only lock the phone, but be used to verify the identity of a person wanting to buy something using the phone too.

This is great, but as fast as features are added to phones, hackers published how to defeat them. At the Retail Week conference today it was demonstrated that other biometric measurements might become common. It seems you can even prove your identity by allowing someone to listen to your heartbeat! Getting security right and ensuring that identity can be verified easily and securely will be essential for all these other information-rich technologies to work in the customer service environment.

I can see it happening soon. Augmented reality to help customers find items and to create virtual offers targeted at the individual, the IoT ensuring that the store runs more effectively, and payment without delay using your phone – or another wearable device.

One day, I’m sure that I will be able to verify payment in store just by allowing the checkout robot to listen to my heartbeat. Until then, it’s time to keep a strong focus on how to balance customer information sharing and security. It’s the one issue that could cause consumers to reject more open technology systems.

Were you also at the Retail Week Customer Experience Summit? Leave a comment here with your views on customer security or anything else from the summit, or get in touch via my LinkedIn.

SecurityPhoto by GotCredit licensed under Creative Commons.

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