Technology Can Greatly Improve the Customer Experience – Or Ruin It. Here’s What You Need to Know

retail customer experienceCustomer experience is one of the most talked-about topics for retailers today, in any segment, in-store or online. This includes providing choice, prioritizing personalization and innovating wherever possible. But what we don’t talk about as often is the importance of showing you value your customer’s time.

Your engagement strategy should serve to make every customer’s experience more seamless. Anything that adds time or extra steps to their transaction does the opposite and can create a more frustrating experience all around. It may even be the breaking point between making a life-long customer or losing one forever.

If you think I’m being a little dramatic, let me add a little color by sharing a recent experience of mine:

gas stationI was running late, forgot I was low on gas and needed to get on the road as quickly as possible. I pulled up to a pump at the gas station, put in my card, entered my zip code and received payment approval. So far, so good.

But when I went to fill up my tank – nothing happened. After jiggling the handle a few times and trying to figure out what was wrong, I realized the screen had a prompt I needed to answer first:


Do you want a car wash? No.

I squeezed the pump handle. No gas.


Do you want to sign up for our rewards program and save on future gas purchases? NO.

Still no gas. Another prompt.


Do you want to take advantage of our special in-store offer for a free soda if you take our short survey? NO!

Finally, my gas tank started to fill, but my frustration had already overflowed.


To be clear, this isn’t a case of a Luddite who’s never used a gas pump before. It wasn’t that the experience was confusing or overly complicated, but it was an inconvenience. I believe technology can be used in meaningful ways for the customer and have a strong impact on their experience. This experience should be thoughtful, intentional and considerate. A customer should never feel they’re being held captive at the pump, or any transaction, and subjected to upsells or value-adds.

The good news (yes, I always have the good news) is that there’s a way for you to add value, upsell, or implement a survey without inconveniencing customers. For example, this experience could have been improved by being prompted for questions while the gas was flowing, rather than delaying service to force the customer to answer prompts.

TruRating provides a good example of this efficient – and most importantly, convenient – type of solution. Here’s how they do it: as a customer pays for their items, the terminal prompts them to answer one question such as “On a scale of 0-9, how satisfied are you with your visit today?” The customer can answer or skip the question, with the quick push of a button, and then carry on to payment as usual. It takes very little time for the customer to give feedback and can be done on the payment terminal, a mobile device or online. Retailers can then use customer feedback to improve their services and each rating also counts as a charitable donation - a virtuous circle benefitting customers and businesses both.

Here’s a video of a retail store that used the survey feature to drive immediate improvements in their store:

Tactics like these – when implemented with a customer-centric mindset - can blend seamlessly into payment and add little to no time to the experience.  There’s a lot of ways to make customers feel valued: offering deals, loyalty programs, personalization and more. Considering how your engagement strategy uses their time – and ensuring it’s a minimal amount of time – shows thoughtfulness and can help to create a better connection with customers in the long-run.

If you’re looking to invest in technologies that can help you to unobtrusively harness customer data and personalize the customer experience, check out our white paper!


Bradford Giles is Senior Vice President of Marketing and Sales Enablement at Ingenico Group, North America

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