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Going Digital to Improve In-Store Customer Relations

Caroline Cuny, GEM
Published on
14 December 2017

How can you combine digital technology and artificial intelligence to improve customer satisfaction in real stores? How can you use digital elements to optimize the customer experience? Caroline Cuny, a professor and researcher at Grenoble Ecole de Management, is a specialist of digital and communications technology. She shares with us important trends in this field.

The first crucial step is the collection of customer data. By recording customer data, you can collect concrete information concerning a customer's buying habits (e.g., a loyalty program).

"This means the customer is no longer an anonymous individual. When he or she enters a store, it's like going to your regular hairdresser who knows your expectations inside and out," underlines Caroline. "Algorithms analyze customer data and open the way for increased personalization of the brand's offer. This works just as well for products as it does for services."

By using customer data, you can change the store and environment context in order to create a more attractive customer experience with targeted and special offers that encourage purchases. And why not associate odors (tea, coffee, chocolate, etc.) with a theme party in the store? This is an example of olfactive marketing being tested by the Grenoble Ecole de Management connected store.

Enabling predictive behavior analytics

Digital technology can also free up store time. "Automatic checkout options associated with automatic customer account debits can enable an algorithm to visualize other products purchased by customers. If all customer data is recorded and analyzed, a banker for example, can give the right information to the right person in a given context," explains Caroline.

This kind of technology opens the door to predictive analytics in terms of customer behavior. For example, facial recognition technology could be combined with data collection to enable recognition of customer emotions when they enter a sales points.

"A banker could be informed about a customer's stress levels the moment he or she enters the bank and therefore adapt their sales posture to better match the customer. The idea is to be able to analyze emotions before the start of a meeting so a salesperson can adapt to the situation. This would then improve the customer experience," highlights Caroline. Facial recognition technology is already being used for research and teaching at the GEM connected store.

Overseas, we can take the example of Walmart which is developing facial recognition technology that will use the store's existing surveillance cameras to analyze customer facial expressions. The goal is to measure the degree of customer satisfaction, and in particular, dissatisfaction. If a customer is analyzed to be unhappy with their experience, a employee can be sent forward to try and improve the experience during checkout. (Source LSA)

Robots and mankind

"This technological development also brings up important questions concerning privacy and a customer's private life, in particular in terms of emotional analysis. Service and retail players have to answer these questions. Other questions exist as well. For example, when robots are used instead of store employees to answer simple questions (e.g., price checking), this change should include an evolution for employees to carry out less repetitive tasks," explains Caroline.

When Mr Bricolage implements machine learning

Mr Bricolage, a French hardware store, recently implemented new software in several test locations. The idea is to use machine learning to optimize purchase orders. The goal is to increase turnover by 4% while decreasing stocks by 10%. The program is also designed to free up time for salespersons to interact with customers. The software, called ProOrder, will provide automatic weekly purchase orders for each product category. To do so, the software analyzes several factors such as the store's purchase history over the past few years, local weather, store location, special offers and brand communication campaigns. The algorithm also integrates links between products (e.g., the sale of a certain type of bolt and screw can be linked to the sale of a certain type of door knob or bed leg). Department managers approve the purchase order for their department and can modify the order. This enables the software to learn from its mistakes. The result is extra time saved for sales teams, who can focus more on customers.
Source: Le Journal du Net

GEM Digital Day: Will phygital developments reinvent customer relations?

The rapid development of digital technology is revolutionizing customer relations. How can companies efficiently choose and test technology that will provide them with sustainable added value? On January 3rd, 2018, GEM Digital Day will invite participants to explore the various possibilities of promising new technology. The event will also question their impact, both positive and negative, on society and the environment.

  • Plenary session with Sylvie Blanco, director of innovation and experimentation at GEM
  • A round table on the subject of: "How to use physical and digital tools to improve the human and benevolent characteristics of a customer relationship?" Led by Caroline Cuny, a professor and researcher at GEM.
  • A round table on the subject of: "How to (re-)create a non-invasive connection with customers using digital tools? How to integrate digital developments in professional habits? How to manage my e-reputation as a mechanic by using Citroën Advisor?" Led by Benoît Meyronin, a researcher and professor at GEM.

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