Facial Recognition and the VIP Experience


Facial recognition technology has a big part to play in developing customer loyalty

VIP loyalty card schemes are a tried and trusted tool in retail. For while they usually provide perks and discounts for shoppers, the data they gather for retailers offers a vital glimpse into who those shoppers are, what they buy and what they might be interested in buying next.

If there’s one glaring problem with loyalty programs, it’s that a store only knows when one of its top customers has come in when they scan their card at a check-out. Until that point, they are treated like any other shopper. It’s arguably a missed opportunity to strengthen the customer relationship further and to tempt them to spend more with personalised offers.

Automatically spot VIPs

Fortunately, customer loyalty is an area where a facial recognition system can have a big impact. Using networked cameras and specialised software, retailers can now automatically spot VIP customers when they enter a business, alerting staff so they can be ready to help.

OCBC Bank rolled out facial recognition at its Holland Village bank in 2017. The system is used to spot the bank’s premier customers when they enter the lounge. Once alerted, staff can then greet the customer by name, offer them refreshments and magazines (based on previous interactions with them), and have their background information displayed automatically.

Facial recognition can be used to identify VIPs
Facial recognition technology can identify valued customers quickly, accurately and automatically.

Since introducing the system, OCBC Bank has received what it says is “positive feedback” from customers who have used it. According to Pranav Seth, head of E-business, Business Transformation and Fintech & Innovation group, OCBC Bank, customers were impressed by “the personalised hospitality enabled by fast and accurate identification.”

Crucially, facial recognition technology can eradicate the need for loyalty cards altogether or the need to prove identity. Instead, with automatic identification and membership validation, customers are made to feel more welcome and valued, boosting trust between both parties.

Personalised recommendations

US-based Lolli & Pops is another company that’s experimenting with facial recognition technology. The successful confectioner uses it to help in-store staff recognise VIP customers as they walk in. According to the company, sales assistants can then use the information to pull up a customer’s previous purchases and make new recommendations based on them. The technology is set to be rolled out in multiple Lolli & Pops stores throughout 2018.

The possibilities for facial recognition in the retail sector are many and varied. Even within a single business. For example, restaurants can use facial recognition technology to warn kitchen staff about specific allergies a customer has, while the waiting staff can use the same customer data to make more personalised menu recommendations.

Smart displays showing personalised ads to shoppers via face recognition technology
When a business knows its customers, it can offer them a better, more personalised service.

Facial recognition also enables retailers to deliver targeted promotions to those VIP users it identifies. By assessing previous purchases and total spend, VIP customers can receive special offers when they arrive in store. These offers can be conveyed via networked smart displays or offered face-to-face by a member of staff deployed specifically to deal with that customer.

Delivering exclusive deals in store puts the customer right at the heart of a transaction. This approach can work significantly better than emailing out an offer, considering that customers may not be in ‘buy mode’ when they receive it, often forgetting about the deal and failing to take advantage of it.

Today’s leading facial recognition systems incorporate emotion, age and gender detection, plus they feature people counting as standard. Together, these technologies give retailers, banks, restaurants and many other businesses the ability to identify VIP customers and alert staff to their presence, ultimately delivering a superior customer experience.

To increase engagement with your customers, and to find out what the advanced facial recognition technology in the VIA Smart Retail Engagement System can do for you, click here.

VIA Technologies, Inc.