Mobile payments enhance customer experience – really?

Written by on August 13, 2015 in Opinion with 0 Comments

Woman paying with NFC technology on mobile phone in shop

When you read headlines such as ‘Mobile payments enhance customer experience’ you tend to hit delete. Most articles that have ‘customer experience’ in the title tend to get the same treatment. They are generally ‘fluffy’ and have some catchy tagline which tells you that there are ‘ten ways you can improve customer experience right now.’ But mobile payments and customer experience caught our attention.

It is easy enough to see why. In this era of instant gratification, there is now a focus on the check out line. Customers hate waiting in a queue while they watch their fellow customers’ dietary habits beep their way through the check out scanner. So why not, the theory now goes, use the technology behind mobile payments to eliminate the checkout line. Already you can pick up your own scanner and eliminate the need to have some bored human scan your groceries whilst trying to stay awake. It makes perfect sense.

In fact, while we are on the subject, why bother to visit the store? Now, you can browse through the shop, put everything in a virtual basket, click a couple of buttons and carry on watching England beat Australia at cricket again.

In fact, when you take it to its logical conclusion, you can soon do all that clicking (if your fridge and cupboards haven’t already placed the order for you) and in a heart beat a robot or drone will have thrown your shopping through your window, for your fridge to stow away in the most efficient manner.

Why, in fact, would you ever need to stop watching England beat Australia at cricket? Why, seriously, are we all not doing this already.

In the late 1990s there was a heated argument in a Vietnamese restaurant in Washington DC. There was lemon grass and jasmine infused chicken. But the soft and gentle aromas were garnished with an argument about newspapers. Newspapers, said an industry consultant who sold his business two years later, bought a boat and is presumably still bobbing about in it, will be a thing of the past by the year 2000. Newspapers, said the then head of the Global Billing Association, will be with us for many years to come. The argument went on for quite a long time, fuelled as it was by several glasses of crisp white.

Of course, both parties were right.

Now, news is watched and read on screens. And news and opinions are browsed and read in physical newspapers. And, yes, one day, a long time into the future, paper newspapers will go the way of all things.

So too, will using mobile payments to enhance the customer experience be proved both effective, and irrelevant. For some, it will be a revolution and they will argue that shops are irrelevant. For others, they will point out that shopping is a social thing to do, along with sitting in a café with a coffee and the newspaper, before heading off to browse round the boutique shopping area and meeting friends for lunch.

One day, when we get to the world of ubiquitous robots and drones serving us – if we go out at all – mobile payments will indeed improve things. But for those who like taking a little time, it will make little difference. And that section of the community is as important to serve as the other. And that section of the community really could not care less about whether mobile payments are improving their experience. For them it will not be about technology, but about being the centre of attention and the centre of the business whose shelves they are surveying. That is customer experience.

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Alex Leslie

About the Author

About the Author: Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet. He is publisher of DisruptiveViews and previously BillingViews. .

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