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Walmart's Tech Endeavors: Identifying Dissatisfied Customers

Posted by Jeff Pelliccio on Jul 31, 2017 9:00:00 AM

In ICS insights

Most people have visited the largest retailer in the country within the past several months. Where else can you find a camping bed, avocados, and printer ink in the same store and in many cases, at some odd hour of the night? You may visit a a Walmart for low prices, but honestly, many people choose this retailer because they hope for the convenience of one-stop shopping.

Like other shoppers, you may have had some trouble when you couldn't find a clerk to help you retrieve an item from the top shelf. You may have picked out your purchases with no problems but felt unhappy because you had to wait in a long line because only one in five of the registers were open. When these things happen, Walmart might not offer you the convenience that you had hoped for.

If customers believe they have suffered from a poor experience often enough, they could plan to make future purchases elsewhere. Of course, Walmart wants to prevent this and retain their customers. Like other businesses, they know that it is usually cheaper to retain a customer than to court a new one.

How Walmart Plans to Use Tech to Improve Customer Satisfaction

Walmart gained its market share by offering an astounding variety of products at competitive prices; however, a trip to one of these stores could make some people nostalgic for the days of smaller stores and more enthusiastic customer service. To be fair, Walmart managers must find it challenging to staff such large and diverse stores to meet customer demand. Checkout clerks have to focus upon performing their main tasks, and they don't always have the time or training to respond to aggravated customers.

To relieve this problem, the company has begun a project that will rely upon technology to help identify unhappy customers by their facial expressions. Business Insider reported that Walmart has already filed a patent for this biometric tech. According to the article, busy checkout clerks can focus on their jobs because the system will recognize unhappy customers in the line.

If the software finds behavior or facial expressions that it associates with dissatisfaction, it will automatically alert employees from other parts of the store. These employees will proactively try to resolve problems before the customer complains. For instance, they may open more checkout lines or simply approach the customers to ask them if they need help.

Naturally, Walmart hopes to use this AI system to improve their short-term and long-term staffing decisions. However, they plan to take it further by correlating satisfaction with customer's purchasing history. For instance, if they will try to associate specific concerns with an associated pattern of making fewer purchases. This means that the company will also have a way to associate transactions with facial expressions.

Biometric Tech Won't Eliminate the Need for Human Interaction

In 2015, Walmart had experimented with similar technology to reduce shoplifting. The company halted the project because they didn't enjoy a lot of success with it. If this new venture produces better results or not, the software and scanning devices still won't eliminate the need for people who are trained to work with it. Obviously, people and not machines will need to respond to customers and interpret all of the information that the new technology will generate.

For example, Walmart may need to hire more corporate support to fulfill customer service roles.  Human resources people will have to make sure that employees understand how to work with the software effectively. To deal with all of the new data that the software will generate, Walmart will need data analysts to interpret and report upon findings. In any case, biometric software should not eliminate jobs but merely change them to help the company satisfy customers before they complain or even worse, stop visiting the stores.

At ICS, Relationships Matter

At ICS, we help companies improve their customer service by finding employees who can relate to customers with or without new biometric technology. No matter what corporate support positions your company needs to fill, we've got connections with prospects who want to help your business improve. We understand the value of the right technology. At the same time, we know that technology can't replace our relationships with our employee and employer clients. Contact us today to tell us about your business goals, and we'll send you the best folks in the business.

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