Tensator World News

Counting the benefits of customer trends

21. May 2015 11:06

For anyone in the retail sector, understanding your customer and their needs and habits is vital for success. 

At Tensator Group, we do not believe in offering solutions just for the sake of it; they need to work for both the retailer and the customer. 

Ipsos Retail Performance is one of the world’s leading retail consultancies specialising in footfall monitoring, shopper tracking and in-store behaviour. Obviously the team’s findings are always of great interest to us and help to compliment the work that Tensator Group does in terms of guiding the customer journey. 

We invited Dr Tim Denison, director of retail intelligence at Ipsos Retail Performance, to give us an overview of how the sector is performing so far in 2015 and to explain why identifying trends is so important.

As a business, we monitor over 3.1 billion store visits per year, and have worked with some of the world’s biggest brands such as Hobbs and The Carphone Warehouse.

Our pioneering Retail Traffic Index (RTI) series takes statistics from 6,500 stores, to provide a comprehensive and accurate representation of retail in the UK across all sectors. 

This year has started well for retailers, following a relatively mild winter, they have benefited from good weather conditions, as a lack of prolonged snow has not disrupted people’s shopping habits or their ability to get to the stores. Household spending levels are also at their highest level since 2010, which combined with strong consumer confidence, is putting traffic back on the high street.  

Further to this, the ongoing successes of Black Friday and the usual January sales have seen retail growth across the board, resulting with the analysis of customer trends becoming more important than ever. 

February marked a pivotal moment for retailers, as a stable precedent for upward growth was established following an increase in year-on-year footfall for the third consecutive month, something that has not occurred since 2007. 

We have a very clear picture of retail footfall across the UK but, just like Tensator Group, we believe individual retailers need to spend time reviewing trends in their own stores too. 

By knowing your busiest times, stores can schedule employees accordingly. Mirroring your staff-levels to reflect the expected footfall can prove beneficial and also save money. This will ultimately improve productivity and have a positive impact on conversion rates. 

Analytics can also provide the perfect opportunity to compare your in-house marketing campaign to those of the wider retail market, allowing retailers a more in-depth measurement of success. Further to this, knowing the profile of those individuals shopping in store allows the client to measure, manage and improve footfall, conversion and sales.

Looking forward to the next six months, I believe that the health of the retail sector will continue to edge upwards. Negligible inflation together with strong employment and wage rise growth, should translate into small year-on-year gains continuing in footfall and sales over the coming months so long as householders don’t get spooked by politicians’ bluster.

Counting the benefits of customer trends

21. May 2015 11:06

For anyone in the retail sector, understanding your customer and their needs and habits is vital for success. 

At Tensator Group, we do not believe in offering solutions just for the sake of it; they need to work for both the retailer and the customer. 

Ipsos Retail Performance is one of the world’s leading retail consultancies specialising in footfall monitoring, shopper tracking and in-store behaviour. Obviously the team’s findings are always of great interest to us and help to compliment the work that Tensator Group does in terms of guiding the customer journey. 

We invited Dr Tim Denison, director of retail intelligence at Ipsos Retail Performance, to give us an overview of how the sector is performing so far in 2015 and to explain why identifying trends is so important.

As a business, we monitor over 3.1 billion store visits per year, and have worked with some of the world’s biggest brands such as Hobbs and The Carphone Warehouse.

Our pioneering Retail Traffic Index (RTI) series takes statistics from 6,500 stores, to provide a comprehensive and accurate representation of retail in the UK across all sectors. 

This year has started well for retailers, following a relatively mild winter, they have benefited from good weather conditions, as a lack of prolonged snow has not disrupted people’s shopping habits or their ability to get to the stores. Household spending levels are also at their highest level since 2010, which combined with strong consumer confidence, is putting traffic back on the high street.  

Further to this, the ongoing successes of Black Friday and the usual January sales have seen retail growth across the board, resulting with the analysis of customer trends becoming more important than ever. 

February marked a pivotal moment for retailers, as a stable precedent for upward growth was established following an increase in year-on-year footfall for the third consecutive month, something that has not occurred since 2007. 

We have a very clear picture of retail footfall across the UK but, just like Tensator Group, we believe individual retailers need to spend time reviewing trends in their own stores too. 

By knowing your busiest times, stores can schedule employees accordingly. Mirroring your staff-levels to reflect the expected footfall can prove beneficial and also save money. This will ultimately improve productivity and have a positive impact on conversion rates. 

Analytics can also provide the perfect opportunity to compare your in-house marketing campaign to those of the wider retail market, allowing retailers a more in-depth measurement of success. Further to this, knowing the profile of those individuals shopping in store allows the client to measure, manage and improve footfall, conversion and sales.

Looking forward to the next six months, I believe that the health of the retail sector will continue to edge upwards, though uncertainty over the general election result will make progress painfully slow. Negligible inflation together with strong employment and wage rise growth, should translate into small year-on-year gains continuing in footfall and sales over the coming months so long as householders don’t get spooked by politicians’ bluster.

TENSATOR GROUP AIMS TO BE AIRPORT SHOW’S LEADING LIGHT

10. May 2015 17:16

MILTON KEYNES, UK, 8 May 2015- Visitors to this year’s Dubai Airport Show will be treated to the first glimpse of the latest product from passenger journey specialist Tensator Group.

TensabrightTM will be showcased on stand 8101 in the UK Pavilion, 10-12 May, ahead of its official product launch later this month. Joining the Tensabarrier® product range, the innovative new solution uses prismatic reflective tape to create the world’s first hi-vis retractable belt. Due to the use of micro-prisms, TensabrightTM is able to return the light straight back to the original light source, ensuring high visibility and creating a glow in the dark effect.

Once launched, TensabrightTM will be offered as part of Tensator Group’s popular Airport Passenger Guidance (APG) solution. The APG is used to safely direct passengers on and off planes, whilst avoiding the potentially dangerous under-wing areas.

Speaking ahead of the Airport Show, Abdel Aziz Rahal, general manager of Tensator Group Dubai, said:

“The Dubai Airport Show provides the perfect global stage for us to offer the first glimpse of, what is, an innovative world-class product.

“We help to guide the passenger and customer journey at some of the biggest and busiest transport hubs and retail destinations in the world. Above all else, we know that the most important part of that journey is safety.

“TensabrightTM is an innovative yet simple solution and, for airport operators, it is destined to make the boarding and disembarking process even safer. Particularly at night and in poor weather conditions, passengers will be able to clearly see the safest route between the terminal building and the aircraft.”

Joining TensabrightTM on stand 8101 in the UK Pavilion will be the Tensator Virtual Assistant Ultra. A familiar sight in airports such as Dubai International, London Heathrow, Madrid and Boston Logan International, the Tensator Virtual Assistant creates the illusion of a real person and is commonly used in check-in halls and security areas to remind passengers about what can be carried in their baggage.

This year is the fourth anniversary of the first installation of the passenger facing technology, which took place at the UK’s London Luton Airport. To mark the occasion, two new Tensator Virtual Assistants have been installed. New figures have also been released showing that the original units, coupled with other measures, have reduced the number of rejected bags in security at London Luton Airport by 12 per cent.

Tensator Group’s stand at this year’s Dubai Airport Show will also showcase products from the Tensabarrier® range, as well as Tensaguide, a solution that integrates media panels into a queuing environment.

Additionally, Abdel Aziz Rahal will be taking to the stage to deliver a presentation on how Tensator Group helped Dubai International Airport communicate more effectively with its passengers.

For more on any of Tensator’s solutions for the airport sector, visit the team on stand 8101 in the UK Pavilion. Alternatively, more details can be found at www.tensatorgroup.com.

Ends

Interview requests To arrange an interview at the Dubai Airport Show with Abdel Aziz Rahal, general manager of Tensator Group Dubai, and to be amongst the first to see the new Tensabright solution, please contact Martin Stone or Marie-Anne Leuty at Tank PR by calling +44 (0)115 958 9840. Alternatively, email martin@tankpr.co.uk or marie-anne@tankpr.co.uk.

Polling the voting experience

07. May 2015 10:07

As voters go to the polls today, they will have put careful consideration into which candidate they will choose, but few would expect to be denied the chance to cast their ballot slips.

Back in 2010, turnout was much higher than expected and thousands were turned away from polling stations across the country. Despite queuing for many hours, voters were trapped in a Victorian style of queue at the polling station. This may have had serious implications for the results on the day, but also had an impact on the how people felt about voting again in future.

At a time when political parties are actively trying to win the ‘youth vote’, it is important that the needs of all voters are met and that polling stations are brought up to date. Turnout is anticipated to be even higher than five years ago, so there are lessons that councils will need to have learnt to avoid a repeat performance.

Queue psychology applies to every sector, whether retail, travel or banking, so the influences people feel in these settings can also affect them at the polls. Frustrations whilst waiting in line can make shoppers simply abandon their goods and go elsewhere, with two out of three consumers stating they would be less likely to return to a shop if they had a bad queuing experience. Because voters are registered to a specific station, their only options are to strategically choose the time they go to the polls, or deal with queues on arrival.

The way we queue in a polling station has changed little, and with lifestyles now very different compared to a few decades ago, it is important that this is updated. Voting times have adapted to the longer working day, but there are other ways that the process can be sped up at peak times.

Adapting single line queues with call forward systems like Auto ECF can help to reduce frustration and speed up efficiency by showing the next available booth, as well as ensuring that every voter casts their ballot paper in the order they arrived. Physical queues could be removed altogether with Virtual Queuing solutions allowing voters to sit and wait in a more relaxing environment.

Another factor of queue frustration is unoccupied, solo waits. These feel much longer, even if the line is moving along well. Adding in-queue messaging and signage to show waiting times, or neutral election-based marketing messages, could alleviate the feeling of a long wait and set expectations to create a more positive experience.

Typically set up in libraries and other public spaces that aren’t usually fitted for purpose, something as simple as adding Tensabarriers will make a waiting space more ordered and efficient without having a big impact on council budgets, adding structure to small areas that usually deal with much smaller volumes of people.

It’s important that polling stations evolve. Whatever the result, it will be interesting to see if wards have acknowledged the problems in the voter journey, and what measures they have taken to meet this.

You can read of our thoughts on queuing at polling stations in The Independent today.

Q&A: Why the UAE is banking on a tech revolution

06. May 2015 09:33

There is no denying that technology is big business in the Middle East. According to the latest stats, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) leads the world in smartphone penetration at 73.8 per cent, the electronics market in the region is set to hit $4.3 billion this year and the UAE’s cloud-based solutions industry will grow at a rate of 43.7 per cent over the next year.

Technology will certainly remain a focus in the coming years as Dubai prepares to host the World Expo in 2020. Hosted under the theme of Connecting Minds, Creating the Future, the global event will reflect the UAE’s success in pioneering new paths of development and innovation.

With all eyes firmly on the UAE, we asked Abdel Aziz Rahal, general manager of Tensator Group Dubai, to share his thoughts on technology trends in the region. 

Q: Technology plays a big role in the Dubai market. What do you predict as being the major general trends we’ll see develop in the run up to Expo 2020?

Abdel: Connectivity between businesses and consumers has been a rapid area of growth over the past few years and this is something that I certainly see increasing as we move towards Expo 2020.

This has been driven by major advancements in mobile technology, including phones and tablets. All of our personal devices have the ability to talk to one another and businesses have come to realise that they need to be a part of that conversation. It’s all part of what has become known as the omni-channel experience.

Q: Which sectors in particular do you see gaining momentum?

We’ve witnessed the development of increasingly smarter applications to make these conversations faster, more efficient and, most importantly from a business point of view, more profitable. What was once something that was considered fairly high-tech is now an integral part of the customer journey.

Abdel: The aviation sector continues to perform well. We’re strategically located within an eight-hour flight of two thirds of the world’s population and there’s set to be an investment of $100 billion in the Middle East airports industry by 2020. In fact, our Dubai team is currently getting ready to exhibit at the Airport Show 2015, 10-12 May (stand 8181, hall 8).

Aside from aviation, the banking sector is particularly strong and moving towards a more transparent, integrated digital approach with customers.

Q. Why do you think there is such a focus on the banking sector?

Abdel: Online banking isn’t as all-encompassing in the UAE as it is across Europe. It tends to be the most basic of financial operations that are handled online and branches are still heavily used for most things. In response, banks are investing in opening new branches and revamping existing ones.

Q. What challenges does this present?

Abdel: Managing the flow of customers in branch remains a key challenge for UAE banks. Reducing waiting times while still making bank processes efficient are the two major factors. As a result we see a lot of interest in solutions such as Self Service Systems and Virtual Queuing. 

Q. Has the UAE banking sector embraced smartphone technology?

Abdel: The industry is starting to think in terms of an omni-channel experience and see the benefits for both customers and staff.

There’s a clear link between effective management of customer flow online and helping to control the experience in branch. So, in theory, if a customer is able to use an application remotely that enables them to prepare for their visit to branch in advance, it can have a number of benefits. This not only improves the customer experience but also makes the process at the bank more efficient as staff will know anticipated customer flow and individual requirements, allowing them to pre-plan.

This is something that Tensator Group is leading the way on in the UAE by linking smartphone usage with our Virtual Queuing solutions. This process allows bank customers to pre-book appointments for particular services, find branches with the shortest waiting and see what documents they will need to bring with them.

It’s this kind of joined up thinking that will continue to be critical to business success in years to come.

New Tensator Virtual Assistants for London Luton Airport

01. May 2015 16:56

Two new Tensator Virtual Assistants have landed at London Luton Airport. 

Four years ago, the Airport became the first in the world to make use of the passenger-facing technology from Tensator Group. 

Since then, the original Tensator Virtual Assistants, which create the illusion of a real person, have been seen by 16.2 million departing passengers, all of which have been given the opportunity to hear their message about items not allowed in hand luggage. This, combined with a host of other security measures, has helped to reduce the number of bags rejected by security by 12 per cent, speeding up the security process. 

The two new Tensator Virtual Assistants are the latest Ultra model of the digital signage solution. With a footprint of just 50cm by 50cm, they will be positioned in two separate locations at the Airport to ensure maximum exposure. 

“The first of our new Tensator Virtual Assistants will be placed in the baggage preparation zone,” Kevin Aldridge, Terminal Manager at London Luton Airport. “Here, the image of an actress in airport uniform advises on liquids in hand luggage, explaining what is prohibited and how to prepare permitted items. 

“The second unit, which is based in the main security search area, will reinforce the liquids message and also remind passengers to remove coats, belts and empty their pockets in readiness to pass through the search process. 

“The new Tensator Virtual Assistant units, alongside other measures, will help to further speed up the security process, ensuring that passengers’ journeys through the Airport are as quick and efficient as possible. Improving the passenger experience is an important part of the £100m redevelopment project which is due to get underway this year, and will see significant improvements to the terminal building.”

Since their debut at London Luton Airport in 2011, Tensator Virtual Assistants have become a familiar sight at airports across the world, including JFK, Dubai International, Heathrow and Madrid airports. 

Commenting on the continuing relationship with London Luton Airport, Tensator Group CEO Ben Gale said:

“We’re firm believers that technology shouldn’t be used just for the sake of it. It needs to produce tangible benefits for both staff and passengers alike. The Tensator Virtual Assistants at London Luton Airport are the perfect example of this in action. 

“The figures speak for themselves and show that passengers are engaging with units and listening to their important messages. In turn, this has freed up staff resources to focus on other aspects of the security process, resulting in a faster passenger journeys through the terminal.”

The Tensator Virtual Assistant is now used across a range of sectors as an innovative promotional and marketing resource, including retail, events and conferencing, rail travel, healthcare and the public sector.

Lilly Pulitzer for Target, Another Retail Lesson to be Learned

29. April 2015 23:00

When big box retailer Target announced it would be offering Lilly Pulitzer merchandise months ago, the company knew the collection would draw huge demand. Social media was all abuzz since the collection was announced in January.  However with all the advance promotion, buildup and preparation in place, somehow the company failed to meet demand in-store and online, taking a media event that promised delight and turning it into a shopping debacle.  

According to The New York Times “… that which generated brand love also generated brand ire. Since Sunday, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook have trembled with the frustration of shut-out shoppers, and pictures surfaced of racks picked clean, bare white hangers scattered like carrion bones on the veld.”

It would seem that the various marketing, forecasting, online retail group and product fulfillment teams never made it to the same meetings. The front end created the awareness while the back end remained in the dark. In today’s world where there is such effort put into making sure there is buzz around products months in advance – planning on the back end needs to mirror that effort and steps need to be put in place to meet the demand driven  need.  This means a buttoned up omnichannel plan to handle all of it – online and in-store. 

If we look at this event as another retail lesson to be learned, one in which existing technology options could have alleviated the backlash Target is facing – then we can see that the company could have used online ordering and Click and Collect systems in advance to queue up orders ahead of the big day (like Amazon.com does) to better estimate/forecast and fulfill orders.  Customers could have also been assigned virtual queuing appointments to pick up their coveted merchandise.  The result would have been bragging rights on social media how they had their exclusive appointment to get their Lilly Pulitzer products (a la Apple Watch) and ultimately happy and loyal customers. 

Retailers must think outside the big box – and start thinking about how their promotional efforts impact their clients when demand can’t be met.  Getting excited about products and then not being able to get them as promised is a stress inducing social media rant producing occurrence that is definitely not in keeping with Lilly Pulitzer’s “Palm Beach is a state of mind” mentality. 

Get in line online - Apple busts the traditional queue

24. April 2015 14:41

It's no secret that Apple has been a long-standing customer journey champion. With an in-store experience that many can only aspire to, the tech specialist’s approach to new product launches always seemed to contradict the rest of its operations. 

Granted, winding queues of tech-hungry consumers stretching around the block made for great column inches in the press and fuelled demand, but was it the best solution for the consumer and the in-store team? Given recent developments, it seems we all agree the simple answer is no. 

So, what's the new approach? Online orders and scheduled 15-minute appointments for an opportunity to try on different models with specially trained employees on hand to explain all the features. 

This shift according to media reports, is as of the direct result of a new policy under Angela Ahrendts, who left the helm of British luxury giant Burberry last year to run Apple's retail stores.  A leaked memo acquired by Business Insider shows Apple's retail chief Ahrendts instructing staff members to encourage customers to order online instead of visiting their local Apple Store on launch day:

"The days of waiting in line and crossing fingers for a product are over for our customers. The Apple Store app and our online store make it much easier to purchase an Apple Watch and the new MacBook. Customers will know exactly when and where their product arrives. This is a significant change in mindset, and we need your help to make it happen. Tell your customers we have more availability online, and show them how easy it is to order. You'll make their day."

It would seem that the overinflated buzz created by people waiting hours, sometimes days, to purchase a device and the shortages that may have made the products seem more desirable, may finally be over. There’s change afoot, and now, tangible evidence that increased efficiency in queue management is paramount to the Apple brand.

According to the Business Insider article, the key takeaway here is that Apple doesn’t want to be unable to fulfill demand or leave its customers frustrated. And while the line may look like a fun activity to do with friends, introducing new smart technology by making people wait for it in rain, cold temperatures, sitting up overnight curbside is well, not smart. 

Apple stands to vastly benefit from this new approach to queue management by: 

  • Matching skill staff to customer needs  
  • Creating a more personalized experience 
  • Having the ability to forecast resources
  • Increased efficiencies/revenues
  • Customer satisfaction and reduced walkaways
  • Delivering a truly seamless omnichannel online/in-store experience 

We here at Tensator applaud Apple for taking the next step in the evolution of the customer journey.  It only makes sense to introduce amazing cutting edge wearable tech by embracing a new generation of queue management: virtual queuing and appointment-based product introductions and services. Introducing amazing new technology deserves better.

The Apple Watch is a smartwatch – that marks time and increases your ability to leverage the benefits of mobility right from your wrist. Waiting in line for a smartwatch, that promises the benefits that mobility extends – of being connected and able to do more faster would be ironic.

 

Virtual Assistant Brings Mondalez International Sweetness To New Belgian Markets

15. April 2015 16:04

Shoppers in Belgium will be introduced to Mondelēz International’s latest products by a group of five state-of-the-art Tensator Virtual Assistants, at Carrefour, Cora and Makro stores.

The Virtual Assistants will be installed in supermarkets and independent stores across the country to promote the food manufacturer’s new product lines, including the Côte d’Or, Milka and LU confectionary ranges. 

The consumer-facing Ultra models, with a compact 50cm by 50cm footprint, will stay in each location for two weeks before continuing on their tour of retailers, allowing customers to find out more about Mondelēz International products.

The Tensator Virtual Assistant is a next generation digital signage solution that uses cutting edge technology to project the image of a real person that can deliver a variety of messages. With the ability to capture shoppers’ attention more effectively than signage, it can bring messages to life and create interest in new product lines.

The first of Mondelēz International Virtual Assistants was delivered in May 2013 and drove significant sales increases for Mondelēz International retail partners, following positive responses from consumers. 

Frank Hoeckx, in-store activation expert at Mondelēz International, said: 

“The Virtual Assistant Ultra has proved to be a great asset to our marketing as it takes up a relatively small area of valuable shop floor space. Thanks to its dimensions and weight, and the fact that the device is on wheels, it can easily be transported in a small van by one merchandiser. This made it budget friendly and easy to roll out for us.

“In the Belgian market, Mondelēz International has a strong tradition of seeking out innovative ways of communicating with customers. The Virtual Assistant has real stopping power in-store and we see it as way of creating an event that delivers real sales results.”

Tensator Group CEO Ben Gale added: “We are excited to see Tensator Virtual Assistants in more FMCG settings. The public is very familiar with them in airports, but bringing these applications into the European retail sector adds a new dimension to sales possibilities and customer engagement. 

“Technology continues to play a vital role in retail spaces and beyond. Consumers have become de-sensitised to traditional marketing methods, so it is important to us to ensure that brands can interact as much as possible with their customers in-store. We look forward to seeing further results from the models that Mondelēz International has taken on.”

Ajay Joshi on why businesses must react to the changing needs of customers

14. April 2015 13:32

Ajay Joshi speaks to Information Age about how technology is changing the customer journey and why it is so important for businesses to adapt to this change. 

There has been a mass technical evolution, which has altered how customers interact with businesses and the customer journey.

Now more accessible and affordable than ever, consumers have power at their fingertips. Customers are in the driving seat and businesses need to ensure they are at their disposal at all times.

Businesses are rightly looking to innovate in line with the rate of technology’s evolution. After all, even small independent businesses are now on a global stage. Technology is not just the luxury of the biggest players; it is an absolute necessity.

 

Continue reading here:

http://www.information-age.com/industry/services/123459302/rise-and-fall-satnav-warning-all-customer-facing-businesses

Convenience Store News - Paying Attention to Checkout Pays Dividends

09. April 2015 13:42

Tensator’s Business Development Manager Louis Ruiz shines a spotlight on the details in his exclusive article in Convenience Store News, on why “Paying Attention to Checkout Pays Dividends.”

With so many convenient options for customers to shop, it’s hard to believe there are still checkout lines (single, multi-lane, manned or self-serve) that have customers abandoning loaded shopping baskets/carts. For some, it is a one-time abandonment; for others, it’s a forever thing. And along with the abandoned basket/cart comes passionate rants on Twitter and Facebook. 

In a recent survey conducted by Tensator for a U.S. convenience store retailer, there were more than 164 walkaways in the span of one week due to lines that were just not moving fast enough for customers to justify their wait time. Can convenience store retailers really afford to leave money on the table for a problem that is readily addressable?

Let’s take a look at the checkout landscape for 2015, fix those wait times and maximize every square inch of retail space with an eye on increasing profits at the checkout line.  Read the entire article here: http://bit.ly/1E84JVG

 

Top 10 Things Our Customers Love about the Tensator Virtual Assistant

24. March 2015 15:03

Across just about every vertical industry market from retail, transportation, healthcare to event venues  – delivering branding, guidance, information, and “stop you in your tracks Wow Factor,”  Tensator Virtual Assistants are hard at work every day, round the clock, all around the globe.  

Here is a quick snapshot of the Top 10 reasons why our clients love them: 

1) "Passengers pay attention and listen, and intuitively follow-though with what Tensator Virtual Assistant ‘Carla’ says about the checkpoint security procedure and the divesting process. Carla was set up in less than a couple hours, and can run 24-7. The unit is mobile and can be moved to other parts of the terminal.  Carla is saying everything that is on the six or seven signs in the security checkpoint area; she is also fluent in Spanish." Brad Martin, Airport Deputy Director of Aviation Customer Service at Boston Logan International

2) "Wow, this is an amazing item, I call it the virtual sales assistant because products situated near it are blowing off the shelves." Fran Boller, Executive Vice President, Nike brands at Haddad Brand

3) "The Tensator Virtual Assistant virtual shopping consultants cut through the noise and distractions, capturing people’s attention and holding it. Not only are they seeing and hearing about specific retail, service and dining options in English and Spanish, but they are provided with real-time friendly guidance with real directional cues and offered suggestions on what they can buy and advice on currency exchange and duty free that enable them to make the best use and get the most out of the time they spend in the Terminal." Adrian Songer, Chief of Airport Concessions Business Development at Miami International Airport 

4) "The installations definitely caused a wow factor and the sites really drew a crowd. It is vital for us to be creative innovators and as this was the first time a head-to-toe projection has been executed in retail design, I'm proud of the result we achieved." Vicky Barrett, Design and Merchandising Manager for Clarins Fragrance Group commenting on the new virtual assistants designed to promote"Alien Eau Extraordinaire," a perfume from its Thierry Mugler brand.

5) "The Tensator Virtual Assistant is a novel way to improve messaging and communication to patients, assisting their access to the hospital. It is an innovative way to convey key messages and it complements our reception team, signage and wayfinding as part of the whole new development." Wendy Farrington Chadd, Trust Chief Executive, Oswestry Hospital

6) "The Virtual Assistant is a massive hit with our visitors.  From the young to the old, everyone is amazed when watching the image. This is an excellent way to get information across because it is so unusual that everyone is engrossed in it. Using the Virtual Assistant at the beginning of the tour has been a huge success as it gets the tour off to a perfect start." Gill Hillary Stadium Tours Controller at Newcastle Football Club

7) "There is literally no other form of signage that could have achieved the amazing boost in sales that the Tensator Virtual Assistant delivered. Not only did shoppers stop, look and listen -- they bought TY KU Sake -- providing us with an amazing 600% lift in sales in the first weeks of deployment. We are delighted with the results of our Virtual Sommelier. Its ability to captivate shoppers is unparalleled." Adrian Molina, Brand Communications Manager, TY KU

8) "After the success of the ‘Share a Coke’ campaign last year, we were keen to ensure our customers understand how the campaign can benefit them and how they can get involved. Digital shopping marketing innovation, such as ‘Isabelle’, is a creative and fun way to reach our customers with the campaign and is a piece of genuine digital innovation that we’re excited to bring to the market to build on the success of last year’s campaign." Simon Miles, Digital Director at Coca-Cola Enterprises 

9) "We were looking for something different that could clearly communicate messages to customers in an innovative way. I had experienced the Virtual Assistant as a consumer and it really caught my eye. It is clear and concise in its delivery and you have the flexibility to make it really stand out from other marketing tools as it can be completely tailored to your requirements." Kelly Hailou, Head of Promotions & Merchandising for Grosvenor Casinos

10) "Retailers travel from all around the world to learn about the latest developments in retail technology at Retail’s BIG Show. The Tensator Virtual Assistant is exemplary of the kind of innovation our attendees expect to see. The projected imaging grabs your attention and the surround sound speaker system ensures you hear the messages above the show noise. Welcoming, always on and never tired, the Virtual Assistant communicates consistent, precise and essential show info to a multitude of people at the same time continuously." Susan Newman, Senior Vice President, Conferences, National Retail Federation.  

Humanising brands through technology

06. March 2015 11:50

It might seem contradictory to talk about technology lending a human touch to brand experiences but, these days, that's something of an outdated assumption. Customers are becoming savvier than ever when it comes to marketing, and technical innovation has played a big role in their perception of what makes a brand engaging. By allowing customers to interact with brands on a frequent basis, technology can help 'humanises' the experience.

This doesn’t necessarily mean investing in an enormous web of new systems in an attempt to revolutionise the customer experience. Brands should look to whatever technology they have to open a dialogue with customers; to provide targeted and relevant messages. In practice, there is already a multitude of resources at customers’ disposal that brands can use as a channel of communication– smartphones and tablets being the most prolific. Developing apps that connect with its audience, and not just an extra icon on the screen, can leave a lasting impression with potential and existing customers.

One successful example of this is the Nike+Running app, which allows friends to compete in sports activities and set new personal best times. This has developed the brand’s association of health and fitness, whilst also cultivating a community that is loyal to it. In essence, it’s because the technology has allowed the brand’s messages to its customers to be much more personal, and specific to their individual circumstances and interests.

There’s a lot that other sectors are learning from this. Gone is the phase of poor, faceless service, replaced by more considered communication that is genuinely helpful to individuals, rather than a passive sales message. This improved dialogue is what enables brands to better develop their own tone and personality, which increases the potential for engagement further on a more personable level.

Whatever the sector, brands are looking for new ways to cut through the noise of traditional signage, ensuring that customers’ expectations are surpassed and raising service standards overall. This is something that cosmetics brand Clarins invested in, using the first full-height Tensator Virtual Assistant to bring the figure from its advertising campaign to life in-store. The project was part of an integrated campaign to promote the launch of Thierry Mugler’s ‘Alien Extraordinaire’ perfume in three flagship stores. This campaign exemplifies how technology can be used to engage consumers by delivering a unique ‘wow’ factor. 

The continual development of technology will become increasingly vital for brands, as they look to engage with customers who have become desensitised to traditional marketing techniques. Whether through in-store tactile solutions or apps that customers can carry in their back pockets, giving a human quality to messages is what will give brands a more active role in the psychological process of shopping, travelling or banking.

Theory vs Practice and the Realities of Waiting in Line

27. February 2015 16:45

We recently came across a topical article that is near and dear to Tensator’s queue management and customer journey heart. It was an Economic View piece in The New York Times, entitled: “The Upside of Waiting in Line.” Written by Tyler Cowen, professor of economics at George Mason University, the article points out the benefits to waiting in line – with everything ranging from urban usefulness, its ability to offset lower incomes, a trigger for sellers to use lines to better segment their markets, the ability to generate buzz and garner positive social media by the excitement of waiting alongside those of like mind.

The article goes on to point out that events that require waiting can attract and inform people who otherwise may not have found out about the event otherwise. Evidence of a crowd waiting in line by default means it’s something worth waiting for. Cowen goes on to say that choosing lines wisely will become a necessary skill set that Americans will need to master and “on the plus side,” waiting is not as painful as it used to be, thanks to our smart devices and WiFi. Lines in fact, are drivers of publicity, and waiting increases anticipation and excitement. 

What is interesting about this article -- are the ensuing 97+ comments from around the world. The majority of the comments focus on how to and why to avoid lines, how lines alienate people (especially the elderly), the limits of how long people would wait for anything, the wasting of precious time, the value of time, and how forcing people to wait (especially in 12 degree weather) is disrespectful of customers.  

What may indeed be sound in theory and contain elements of truth, just doesn’t ring true in practice. Readers of Cowen’s article found little upside to waiting in lines – there were few, if any, folks advocating for more lines or exclaiming its benefits.  

Having managed queues for over 130 years, we’d like to put this article and the ensuing comments into perspective. Retailers, restauranteurs, event managers that aren’t aware of the emotional impact or frustration they are causing their customers by making them wait too long in line are jeopardizing future sales and customer loyalty -- regardless of how it’s sugarcoated.  Studies like the one in BizReport, where British shoppers’ patience for standing in line runs out after six minutes or less, while Americans leave the line after eight minutes, serve to underscore the negative and economic impact of waiting in lines.  

Cowen’s static view of waiting in line also doesn’t take into account advancements in technology. We would be remiss if we didn’t point out that queue management technology makes it virtually unnecessary for people to wait in long lines, and suffer discomfort – like really,really long lines in zero degree weather! There’s a huge economic upside to retaining customers who would otherwise walk away – perhaps for forever -- if they are frustrated enough – who will go on social media to have a good rant – and go elsewhere (especially if they are in urban setting where they have other choices).  

It’s time to move beyond theory, take a hard look at reality, and put into practice queue management technology. Real and measurable advancements have been made in this field to ensure all customer experiences – from young to old – value people’s time and money while earning businesses customer and brand loyalty for great service. A better future is here and now – trying to sell the upside of waiting in long lines is an archaic idea well past its prime.

A smoother customer journey is the solution to commuting stress

25. February 2015 11:57

This month, Transport for London begins its operation to close ticket offices at London Underground stations, instead replacing them with self-service ticket machines so that it can redeploy staff to be more customer facing. This move towards automated transactions is consistent with the overall trend of introducing self-service machine across sectors such as retail, entertainment and travel. 

At the time that the plans were announced four years ago, there was perhaps understandable trepidation about how well commuters and tourists would be served by fewer staff. The answer is that efficient queue management becomes all the more important when it comes to letting customers navigate the ticket halls.

Research carried out by Tensator previously has shown how low public tolerance is of poorly managed self-service checkouts in retail. In fact, one in three shoppers in the survey admitted to downing their baskets and leaving a supermarket because of a bad experience with the machines. One in five even admitted to not paying for items if they triggered a fault.

For TfL and other transport operators in the UK to get around these issues – particularly with millions of impatient commuters rushing to get to work– the passenger journey needs to be as smooth as possible in order to keep passenger stress levels to a minimum. If the experience at the station is simple and easy to navigate, people are less likely to become frustrated. The station is where the passenger actively engages with the transport provider and the whole travel experience can be ruined by a poor service offering.

To eliminate queue frustration at the bank of self-service ticket machines, careful consideration needs to be given to organising a single line of people – rather than leaving several lines to form where nobody quite knows which to join. Single Line Queuing can reduce walk-aways by up to 96% and improve overall queue flow by up to 30%, as passengers easily see that they are making fair progress together, without anybody jumping their place.

Simple but effective solutions like these – for any busy transport hub – can make the difference between passengers having a stressful commute to work or an easy one, which affects their perception of their journey as a whole.

Who knows? If every commute was this simple, the morning rush hour might be the calmest part of the day.