Top 10 Things Our Customers Love about the Tensator Virtual Assistant

by tensator-usa 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.  

Theory vs Practice and the Realities of Waiting in Line

by tensator-usa 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.

Click and Collect Lines Are Missed Opportunities

by tensator-usa 29. January 2015 16:40

In a recent eMarketer article entitled, “Retailers Must Make Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store Worth It,” it was found that consumers spent more time waiting in line when they buy online, and pick up in-store. With consumers looking to save costs and avoid shipping charges, Click and Collect holds tremendous promise to entice consumers into brick-and-mortar stores and increase shoppers’ ticket value at the cash register. 

In getting shoppers past the physical store doors, the article goes on to say that retailers leave a lot to be desired when it comes to handling the "Collect" part of their Click and Collect initiatives -- with a number of customers surveyed spending 58% of their time in the store at the checkout desk. Shoppers who started in-store and checked out in-store spent just 15% of their in-store time at the checkout desk, by contrast.


Retailers need to examine the purpose of  their program to make Click and Collect worthwhile for their customers and for their bottom line.  There's no point to having shoppers spend their trip to the store at the register. By leveraging virtual queuing, customers can take a virtual ticket via their smartphones or take a physical ticket with the time stamp that lets them know exactly when their item is ready for pickup and payment -- leaving them free to browse, and to shop.  A call forward queuing system coupled with in-queue merchandising can further turn wait time into shopping time by engaging  and delighting shoppers as they are attended to in an efficient, intelligent manner -- while being provided with additional information or exposed to new and exciting products as they wait their turn.

We all know that that a two minute wait can feel like nothing at all, or can feel like forever. Click and Collect is a great idea for getting customers into your store and providing additional customer value -- but once that customer is in your store  -- make sure you positively influence how your customer feels about their wait  time. Rather than just standing in line -- maximize each moment for a better customer experience and a chance to improve your bottom line.


Announcing Our New Website

by tensator-usa 20. January 2015 13:49

Tensator is proud to announce our new website.  Our goal is to create a web presence that tells the story of our growth, our innovative queue management solutions and shares our groundbreaking work in different sectors with meaningful real world use cases.

We invite you to tour the new site, enjoy our case studies and read our blog, which shares our perspective as well as our clients’ and partners’ perspectives on the evolving customer journey.  

Our case studies highlight the measurable ways we help businesses improve their bottom line, delight and inform customers, and value their time. Here are a few you don’t want to miss:

You can learn about our history, and our customer experience management consultancy, join our partner program and read the latest coverage from around the world, in our news section.

Finally, you can learn about how we can provide you with guaranteed ROI with our innovative Pilot to Rollout Program and about the people behind the work – our global dedicated resources and engineers who help our customers compete on the basis of value instead of price.


2015 Technology’s Evolving Role in Consumer Decision Making

by tensator-usa 12. January 2015 14:36

Leslie Hand, vice president, IDC Retail Insights makes note in IDC’s Retail Insights' outlook for 2015 that there is a new fourth dimension to last year’s go-forward retail paradigm of the three Rs — Relationship, Relevance, and Reciprocity. For 2015, IDC sees another characteristic building on these three – Participation. "Relentless technology innovation underpins consumers' participatory behavior and expectations,” says Hand. 

We here at Tensator agree that the customer journey has expanded and that consumers are taking on a participatory role in their overall shopping experience – thanks to technology innovations. IDC states that the most successful retailers will find opportunities by putting mobility, analytics, cloud, and social to work in their customer and operations strategies – and recommends adopting omni-channel integration technologies and IT governance, unifying customer engagement for hyper-personalized loyalty, adopting product intelligence for marketing and competitive insight, employing location-based services via analytics-driven agile engagement and operations as well as utilizing socially networked on-demand delivery services.

In a recent MediaPost article, we see an example of the participatory role a consumer plays in their purchase decision making. A brick and mortar shopper asks a retailer to match an online price from another vendor for two products – they decline to match the online price based on a technicality. In less time than it takes for the retailer to return with the products to the counter – the shopper purchases the item on their mobile phone for the lesser price and has it shipped to their house for free.

In NRF’s “The Makings of a Mobile Holiday” Julie Ask, Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research says,“One in five consumers expects to be able to pick up their mobile phone and do anything from getting store hours to price comparisons to who has what in inventory. It's all being driven by this expectation. Retailers are getting better at it, but many of them are still struggling to keep up with customer expectations.” The author goes on to say that the process wasn’t just about the ease of buying from a mobile phone; it was about the product selection, credit card information on file, shipping address stored and ease of follow-up by phone if there are any issues. They note that while shoppers obviously will continue to shop at physical retailers, the people running those stores will have to deal with the realization that purchasing while in that store is just one mobile click away.

Making it easy to for shoppers to make their purchase decision is key to retail success in 2015. Retailers need to enable shoppers to participate in how, where and when their purchases are made. To compete effectively, brick and mortars need to embrace free shipping, click and collect, price matching or matching incentives, employ mobile greeter and virtual queuing technologies to speed up the checkout and offer greater convenience/loyalty rewards. By 2015, saavy retailers will have implemented these technologies and should have the necessary intelligence at their fingertips to increase staffing when needed on the fly. The 2015 consumer is going to brick and mortar outlets for excitement and an experience – if they can have the in-store experience coupled with the convenience that mobility delivers – retailers can expect to have a banner year ahead. 


Proximity Marketing – Impacting Service, Revenue, Efficiency and Basket Size

by tensator-usa 18. December 2014 17:43

With a majority of consumers more comfortable conducting their shopping via mobile devices – getting shoppers to look up and try something new is challenging to say the least. 

To this effect, 2014 has seen a jump in technological developments in beacons, audio, visual and proximity marketing solutions – all designed to help retailers influence, sway and capture the in-store attention of time crunched and attention short shoppers. These technologies are starting to take hold – with Office Depot, Macy’s and Lord & Taylor jumping on board.  

In fact, Tensator’s clients are already realizing measurable monetary/sales improvements by reaching customers more effectively through the proximity marketing capabilities of the Tensator Virtual Assistant: 

  • TY KU Realizes 600% Uplift in Sales with Tensator Virtual Sommelier 
  • Clarins Wows Customers With Virtual Assistant 
  • Coca-Cola launches Virtual Assistant in cash and carries in London for Share a Coke campaign 
  • Grafton Shopping Centre introduces their new Tensator Virtual Assistant
  • Modell’s CEO Mitchell Modell Welcomes Super Bowl XLVIII Fans via the Tensator Virtual Assistant 

In a recent Mobile Marketing article, the benefits of proximity marketing solutions such as beacons and audio technology are debated as standalone solutions but, ultimately as the article concludes  -- these technological advances mean much more when they work in harmony with each other so that the effect “can be much greater, than the sum of its part in terms of improved customer service, new revenue streams, store efficiency and ultimately basket size.”

We can expect to see more and more integrated proximity marketing technology developments very soon – 2015 is shaping up to be an exciting year for retailers and shoppers alike! 

Dollars and Sense - Time and Knowledge are the Retail Currency of 2015

by tensator-usa 8. December 2014 18:31

Deloitte’s Annual Holiday Survey forecasts that overall holiday spending will be 4 to 4.5 percent higher than last year -- with shoppers doing the bulk of their shopping in December. 

As far as shopping online vs. in stores, the Deloitte survey notes that the most common reason that the 5,033 shoppers polled gave for avoiding stores during the holiday season was long lines (40 percent). The most likely reason to buy in a store was a knowledgeable store employee (48 percent).

With retailers competing with online shopping which delivers immediate service and near-instantaneous information, having effective queue management/checkout systems, in-queue merchandising, and POP offers as well as educated and knowledgeable staff armed with in-line greeter/mobile tech is paramount to positively impacting the bottom line.

If we look at these in-store percentages, we come to understand the importance of valuing customer’s time and having knowledgeable employees – the ones who go out of their way to serve the customer.  If we viewed every minute a customer is left standing in line, or cooling their heels waiting for someone to help them -- as real, hard revenue loss – we’d change this behavior and fast! We’d look to reduce wait time and if we couldn’t reduce the wait any more, we’d try to add value to the experience. 

For the Holiday Season and in the year ahead, retailers stand to significantly increase their competitive advantage and increase their revenue by understanding that time and knowledge are the new retail currency. 

Black Friday Extended, Barricades and Tensabarriers - Keeping Everyone Safe

by tensator-usa 24. November 2014 22:19

With the latest OSHA guidelines formally released, labor officials have laid the groundwork for holiday shopping safety -- offering advice to retail CEOs on how they can help keep their workers safe during Black Friday and the extended Black Friday sales and ensuing holiday rush.  While retailers have been planning for this event since before Summer 2014, now is the time to review final plans for handling the crowds, do practice runs and take stock.  Paramount to crowd control, the OSHA guidelines call for stores to set up barricades or barriers like the Tensabarrier® to handle crowds, and to make sure they are arranged in a fashion that winds around enough times to effectively slow down a mob.  

Other critical advice offered to retailers:

  • Warn employees when the doors are opening
  • Have security guards stand away from the open doorway where the people will be rushing in, positioned to the sides of entering (or exiting) public, not in the center of their path
  • Prevent overcrowding in any one area of the store by positioning sales items throughout the store rather than in one concentrated area
  • Consider using mechanisms such as tickets to provide the earlier arriving customers with first access to sale items.
  • Have adequate signage showing the location of entrances and exits, store opening times and location of special sales items within the store
  • When the store reaches maximum occupancy, don't allow additional customers to enter until the occupancy level drops

According to David Michaels, assistant secretary for Occupational Safety and Health at the Department of Labor, with thoughtful planning and implementation of an effective crowd management action plan and maintaining emergency exits free of obstructions, we all can have a safe and happy holiday season.

Please contact our Tensator customer journey experts if you have any last minute needs, or for answers to any of your Black Friday questions or challenges.  We are here to help make sure you  keep everyone safe.


Tensator Study: Retailers need to improve in-store experience

by tensator-usa 7. November 2014 22:51

While the online vs in-store shopping debate has raged on for a number of years, Tensator's latest study shows that customers are not finding in-store shopping an enjoyable or engaging experience and, even when they are in-store, their attention is drifting towards their mobile phones. 

In fact, 89% of shoppers feel that retailers need to make changes to the overall shopping experience to compete with their online counterparts.  When quizzed about their preference for online retailing, 48% said they liked the fact they did not have to stand in a line, 42% found it cheaper than shopping in a store, and 29% expressed the fact that they simply did not have the time to visit an actual store.

Retailers need to look at bringing the convenience of online shopping in-store and make the customer experience efficient, stress-free and captivating.

 Click here to read the full article on the Chain Store Age website 




Want to Increase Holiday Sales? Click and Collect Services Attract the Connected Consumer

by tensator-usa 20. October 2014 16:17

The Wall Street Journal recently wrote an article on research firm eMarketer’s Holiday sales predictions. The good news is that they’re estimating that U.S. retail sales will climb 5% in November and December, besting last year’s growth rate of 3.4%. While that is excellent news for brick and mortar retailers -- holiday eCommerce sales are projected to also grow 16.6% to $72.41 billion, ahead of last year’s 15.3% rate. As connected consumers continue to buy both in-store and online -- what is clear is that retailers need to maximize their opportunities across their various channels by offering digital incentives that according to the article, “merge the physical and mobile space.”  

One way to do this is via “Click and Collect,” a rather recent phenomena that has gained traction in the US and is already popular in the UK. “Click and Collect” services allow shoppers to order products online and have them delivered to their local store or to a designated store. Not only does this ease shipping costs for customers and offer an additional option for purchase, but customers can extend their shopping – especially around the holidays by buying other items in the store while there for pickup.

In order to make “Click and Collect” a successful bridge between virtual and in-store shopping – retailers need to be cognizant of delivering a seamless customer journey that is consistent with the ease of purchase online to the in-store pickup experience.  

To maximize the “Collect” experience here are some ideas to consider:

  • Create a clearly designated, attractive area – incorporate interactive digital signage for maximum branding and visual appeal along with colorful media panels to guide and inform customers about your particular “Click and Collect” program.  
  • Arm your staff with inline greeter technology – so from the moment the customer arrives they can be quickly, easily and personally assisted based on their preferences.
  • Since you can expect this to be a busy area in the store – implement virtual queuing technology so customers can shop and be alerted on their mobile phones when their pickup is ready or take a ticket from a touchscreen ticket dispenser.  Display queuing information alongside branding and advertising information by incorporating Corporate TV, multimedia management into an inline dispersed virtual queuing system will keep customers informed and entertained while they wait.  
  • Ensure the checkout line is equitable and clearly designated.  Make the most of the space by using the time your customers have while waiting on line to share exciting offers and promotions via next generation digital signage and by showcasing thoughtful last minute merchandise items for purchase with in-queue merchandising

“Click and Collect” is a great opportunity to improve the overall shopping experience, win your customer’s loyalty and boost Holiday Retail purchases.  If you are ready to set up your “Click and Collect” area but aren’t sure how to get started, contact Tensator’s customer journey specialists today.

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