Biometrics, particularly facial recognition, conjures images from sci-fi television to cop movies to real-life applications for law enforcement. However, the power of biometric technology does not stop there. In fact, according to a new report from research firm Frost & Sullivan, biometrics is just beginning to gain recognition as a viable solution for customer experience in the retail and hospitality industries.
The biometric market is expected to be worth $6.2 billion by the year 2019 primarily due to the continued adoption of the technology for applications beyond the law enforcement and government arenas. For example, the banking industry has found biometric facial recognition to be quite useful in ATMs.
Customer Experience at First Glance
Facial recognition can provide opportunities for multiple industries to serve their customers more efficiently. Take the hospitality industry as an example. As a high-end hotel, you want to provide white- glove service to your VIP guests. With facial recognition software for the hospitality industry, your staff will know as soon as one of the VIP guests enters the lobby. Now that individual can be greeted personally, and escorted to a room without going through the normal check-in procedures. It’s five-star service at its best.
“Being able to identify VIP guests immediately could enable the front desk staff to have room information pulled up before the guest steps up to the registration desk and be able to greet the guest by name,” said Raffie Beroukhim, vice president, Biometrics Solutions, NEC Corporation of America. “Overall, this capability helps enhance a VIP guest’s experience through personalization of services and increases customer satisfaction with the property.”
The guests really begin to feel like a VIP because of the rapid deployment of high-end services available simply by having facial recognition software such as NEC’s NeoFace® recognize them as they walk into the hotel. Furthermore, the ability to align the biometrics solution with existing surveillance equipment makes the implementation easy and much less disruptive to the property.
Hospitality is not the only industry to benefit from the expansion of biometric facial recognition software. Retailers will also benefit. Consider this – if a shopper repeated visits a store, facial recognition software such as NEC’s NeoFace Watch will recognize her and sends a message to the retail staff about her preferences and recent purchases.
According to Allen Ganz, senior account development manager for NEC, the idea is to provide an enhanced customer experience.
“I’ve often seen instances when a customer walks into a store, sees the long line and buys the product somewhere else,” he said. “Imagine a scenario where you can walk up to a kiosk where you already preregistered yourself along with, for example, your favorite drink and the store recognizes and knows I want my standard order.”
Is there Any Privacy Left?
Many critics claim this type of technology voids the ability for someone to maintain privacy. However, the NEC technology requires customers to opt in to the service, giving retailers the ability to use this ground-breaking customer experience only with those shoppers who agree in advance.
For those who value a strong, individualized customer experience, biometric facial recognition such as NeoFace is a true value-add. It alerts team members to the arrival of someone who desires to be given white-glove treatment, while expediting either the check-in or purchase of products, and giving that person something truly valued – recognition of repeat business coupled with time savings.
What do you think about using biometric facial recognition to enhance white-glove service in retail and hospitality industries? Would you appreciate the extra effort?