Walmart is taking its customer satisfaction game to a whole new level.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the retail giant is developing technology that analyzes biometric data to identify customers in need of assistance more quickly. The corporation originally acquired a patent for technology that employs biometrics, the statistical analysis of individuals’ genetic appearance from head to toe in order to decrease instances of shoplifting, but since pivoted.
Many have characterized the move by Walmart as a direct response to competition from Amazon, which recently was granted a patent for technology that allows it to steer household internet traffic away from sites where people can compare prices.
Biometric functionality technology is certainly a prudent way for massive firms like Walmart to pinpoint an optimum level of resources to dedicate to customer service, but it isn’t a friend to the low wage labor market. The wording of the official patent speaks directly to its job-eliminating purpose.
“It is much easier for a merchant to retain an existing customer than to acquire a new customer through advertising,” reads the official patent, which was filed in 2012 and granted in March 2016. “However, it can also be very expensive to maintain sufficient staff to provide great customer service. It can also be difficult to establish an appropriate staffing level that will provide proper customer service without excess staffing.”
But angry customers are to blame, as Walmart claims it needs this technology in order to retain them, especially as in-home shopping becomes ever more enticing.
“With so much competition, a customer will often simply go elsewhere rather than take the time to make a complaint,” the patent concedes.
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