Innovation, Impacts and Implications


With some retailers still struggling to accommodate the roll-out of self-serve tills and scanner systems in their stores, technology is enabling other retailers to leapfrog the need for scanning and payment services, reducing costs and inefficiencies in the process.
For the past few years, retailers have been busy installing services that enable customers to self-scan their items, which only necessitates a quick security check prior to making a fast track payment at the till. While this may be a convenient option for some customers, the retailer still needs to invest in check out staff, scanning and payment systems and relinquish valuable shop floor space.  Threatening this approach are the forward-thinking retailers who see smartphone technology as the key to taking more of their customers money in a much quicker, cheaper and customer-friendly way.
Smartphone technology is becoming increasingly prevalent. As an example, restaurant chains such as Wagamama, ASK and many others are using QKR – an application led technology that allows you to go into a restaurant, place your order, request the bill and pay, with minimal interaction with restaurant staff.  Other retailers are following suit, encouraging customers to use their smartphones to scan items to access product details, check stock availability, and make their purchases in store via an app.


Going digital creates great opportunities, and requires different organisational models and structures beyond just the contact centre – it is an organisation-wide change of approach.
While your head of security may be uncomfortable about the prospect of introducing ‘weights and measures’ checks to mitigate their concerns, your head of commercial operations will rejoice that they require fewer checkout staff and can optimise valuable revenue-generating floor space. Your head of marketing will be excited to obtain personalised data via smartphone applications so that promotions and advertising can become targeted more effective, and to understand the patterns of movement around the store from phone GPS systems.  IT has to think about building the technology platforms to support future customer journeys and expectations, including the applications and data management, and ensure that innovation offers the business some competitive advantage. Human resources transform, with learning, development and hiring managers having to acquire and develop different skillsets as the interactions with customers change.


Self service v.2.0 impacts more than just the customer service team.  Traditional roles and ways of thinking need to be re-thought.  In fact self-service and digital availability means the redesign of traditional organisations’ structures, job roles, salaries and governance.
What is evident is that this is no longer a concept or the exclusive domain of the likes of Apple, whose store application eliminates the need for any interaction from walking in to the store to making a purchase, and requires Apple staff to work harder to engage with their customers and has evolved their role into becoming technical or device specialists.
Ember now sees organisations considering how to change, not whether to change, as customer-centricity becomes an imperative item on the board room agenda.  As organisations try to balance quality, cost and risk to become more customer focused, their legacy technology, current structure and in-house skills become significant obstacles to progress.  Ember helps organisations identify how to change. In fact, we can help to establish whether and what to change and build a business case to support the target operating model that delivers optimum results.