How Using Technology To Greet A Customer Is Just Plain Creepy

By Bob Phibbs

how to greet a customerA survey from RichRelevance found that digital capabilities that identify, track, and use location and demographics land on the creepy side.

Ranking various digital services from cool to creepy, the survey of 1,016 consumers conducted in April found:

  • Facial recognition identifying your age and gender to display targeted advertisements on digital screens: 73% creepy;

  • A salesperson greeting you by name when your mobile device triggers your entrance in-store: 74% creepy.

  • Facial recognition technology identifying you as a high-value shopper to a sales associate: 75% creepy.

Yet the latest thing in retail seems to be installing more technology to do what well trained salespeople used to do – remembering the likes and dislikes of their best customers.

Several providers now are touting iBeacons that can scan a customer’s smartphone and display to the salesperson the customer’s face, spending pattern, and preferred brands.  That way the salesperson can then greet the customer by name as they come and then theoretically make it a personal experience.

When I heard about this, I created a Mad Lib script for how to greet customers based on such a technology...

“Good morning (first name of customer)! Glad to see you back in the store after (length of time). How did that (name of clothing brand) (name of last product purchased) work out for you on your (name of event) (trip / destination)?  Let me know if you need help with (service.)”

Has retail devolved to such an impersonal experience framed as personal?

The buzzwords of personalization where algorithms and Big Data can serve up a truly personal experience are a misnomer.

Personal means personal to me.

You can’t fake personal.

Not in on a phone call, not in an email, and certainly not on the brick and mortar salesfloor.

If you are looking at ways to engage customers, ask yourself first, "Why am using technology for this?" If your answer makes you uncomfortable, you're probably on the right track.

Pay attention to who is shopping with you by meeting their eyes, welcoming them to your store, and encouraging them to buy.  If you’re not doing it well, look at your hiring procedures, pay structure, retail training of how to greet a customer and management team.

If you find your hiring choices are determined by who can work a schedule, it’s doubtful they have much desire to engage and help the public. Make sure you give them quality retail sales training that teaches them how to engage a customer on a personal basis before they turn a customer away.

And with all the talk about stores raising their minimum wage, know that if you expect to retain quality employees, you’ll have to pay them more.

See also,  How To Choose The Right Retail Sales Training For Your Store

In Sum

Until you get the customer experience right with the people you have, using this new technology will only distract you from truly engaging your customer and getting them to buy from you that day.

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