Friday, October 20, 2006

Using RFID to improve the customer experience

The Wise Marketer has a short piece on an experimental platform being pitched by NCR. In the system, branch bank customers are identified by an RFID tag as they walk in to the branch (presumably this tag would be embedded into something like a cellphone or PDA that's personally identifiable).

Aside from giving bankers the ability to start a personalized conversation with customers as they walk in, the system also gives managers an alert if the individual was flagged as a "special" customer who might be a prime target for a certain type of loan or other financial product, or a VIP who's eligible for special perks like skipping the teller queue or getting some additional attention.

This makes me think two things: first, as David Polinchock mentioned at the At-Retail Media Expo, for RFID adoption to really take off, it must offer something of value to the consumer. Right now, all it does is help with inventory tracking and loss prevention, neither of which are particularly interesting to the average shopper. NCR's prototype system, on the other hand, is trying to provide something of value via the technology, which is worth looking at. Second, isn't it peculiar how we need all sorts of new technology to help retailers (or in this case bankers) identify customers by name, figure out who gets special attention, etc.? The Internet has largely obviated the need for me to go to the bank these days, but even just a few years ago when I was going perhaps twice a month, the manager and several of the tellers all knew me by name. It seems like that level of customer service shouldn't require a huge tech infrastructure.

Tags: RFID, NCR, retail banking, retail media, store media

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