Customer Service VS Customer Experience

“Customer experience”  has become a prominent topic of discussion in the world of retail, with some saying that it is the “single most important factor for an organization to achieve business success”. At least that’s what the Disney Institute had to say about it in a recently published article. However, good customer service has always been a goal for organizations, so what’s new? Well, experiences are much richer, and at Lucova our core imperative is to provide unprecedented customer experiences – so let’s dig a little deeper.

Companies large and small have taken notice of the importance of providing a customer experience in today’s markets, but few have been able to fully understand the difference between customer experience and customer service.

Well for one, Customer Service is usually thought of as a distinct department within a company that handles customer complaints, questions, and the like. Customer experience on the other hand encompasses any and all interactions between a company and its customers, with these interactions being called customer touch points.

Customer Experience as beautifully put by the Disney Institute is:

“About truly understanding your customer as segments and as individuals, architecting a plan for delivering exceptional experiences, and then empowering employees to deliver it across all touchpoints.”

So what can we take away from this statement:

1) You must understand your customer – beyond product offerings and;

2) Customer experience should be practiced as a core value in any company – to empower all employees to deliver experiences at every interaction.

At Lucova, customer experience is what we live and breathe. Using our beacon technology, companies can streamline customer information to specifically tailor meaningful experiences. Our Point of Sale Experience system instantly recognizes your customer’s name, purchase history, and more. This allows for curated discounts and promotions based on the customer’s profile. With Lucova, you can provide the tools to empower your staff to deliver a truly unique in-store experience.

At Lucova we are already delivering on the aspirations of many, to learn more click here.

Where will the future of dining go?

Dining out and discovering new restaurants has come along way, as technology continues to shape our everyday interactions. In the past, dining out and locating new restaurants was much simpler. Customers would discover a restaurant by walking past a storefront or by word of mouth. They would then come into the restaurant, take a look at the menu, place an order, and wait to enjoy a delicious meal. Fast forward to paying their bill, the customer is most likely not to be heard from until a possible “next time” they visit the same location.

The dining industry is no stranger to market changes and paradigm shifts. Each step described above continues to evolve, continuously setting the bar higher for meeting customer expectations. For instance, the customer will most likely learn about the dining outlet from the internet.

– 83% of adults use smartphones or tablets to look up restaurant locations, directions, and hours.

– 75% look up menus, 55% read reviews

– 51% order takeout or delivery directly from the restaurant’s website

– and 50% use rewards or special deals.(Source)

Additionally, if these customers do decide to try the restaurant there is a good likelihood that they may want it delivered to their home or ready for pick up, through UberEats or other mobile ordering platforms. When they do choose to physically come into the store, that’s when your technology shines. This is important because 79% of diners agree that restaurant technology improves their experience.(Source)

In-store technology can vary from customer recognition upon store entry through BLE Beacons, hand held Point of Sale systems, digital loyalty programs, or even just mobile payment capabilities (i.e Apple Pay etc). Restaurants can also use incentive Apps and services that help collect customer information, to be used in loyalty programs and promotional materials for devoted customers.Technology still has a role in the customer experience, after the meal has been finished and the customers have left the restaurant. Customers can now write a review and share it with their friends and network using social media. These days, it is as much about the food as it is about being in the right digital places at the right time.

How can dining outlets adapt to these digital changes? Here are 4 simple ways for any restaurant to keep up with ongoing changes:

  1. Upgrade your POS to handle online orders
  2. Get a loyalty program for your restaurant
  3. Maintain a positive online and social media presence
  4. Go mobile and get an app for your restaurant

Lucova was built mobile – first for the future, interested to learn how you can become equipped for the future, Click Here.

Why I decided to start my next startup: lessons from my father

Amit Jhas, CEO Lucova Inc.

My father moved to Canada with a few hundred dollars in his pocket, a wife, and a newborn child. With few resources available to him, he was able to own and operate an auto shop – that he has successfully maintained for the past 30 years.

As a child, I spent many evenings after school at my father’s automotive shop. My younger brother and I were too young to help out with mechanic duties, but old enough to notice the attention he paid to his customers. His secret to long lasting success: when you put your customers first, they will always come back.

 

It wasn’t that my father could make a used and abused Mazda RX7 look like it had just left the lot – but because he formed deep relationships with each and every person that entered his shop. He knew every person by name, the age of their kids, and their preferences of service. He made a menial task, like getting an oil change – personal. Thirty years later, many of the customers that walked through his door on the first day are still customers today and lifelong friends.

I have come to expect the same level of personalized service that my father provided to his customers. When I moved to Toronto, I was surprised to learn that I was not alone in my hunt to find vendors that provided a personal touch. Not just from my mechanic or car rental company (where I am their loyal member), but from every outlet that engages its customers in a face to face interaction. This desire has now grown into an expectation that I find each Millennial now demands. What sets brands apart is not simply a high-quality product or superior service, but a personalized in-store experience.

Imagine this – you’re standing in line to get your morning cup of coffee, it’s early, you are tired, you were up late binge watching Netflix; you just want need coffee. You get to the front to pay and your barista greets you by name and confirms your usual order; pretty great start to the morning! But wait, now your barista informs you that a brand promotion has offered to pay for your order. Who doesn’t like free coffee?

Our point of sale experience system allows for brands and businesses to make the most out of those face-to-face moments. And we believe this system creates a platform for businesses to humanize the relationship they are curating with their customers in a scalable way – or what we like to call brand moments. A way for brands to forge deeper long lasting relationships through personalized interactions with their customers.

Lucova was built around what my father offered to his customers – a personal experience. We believe in making commerce personal – a way of getting to know your customers – and through tailored services and curated brand moments: giving them what they want, when they least expect it.

5 Apps Every Student Should Have

 

 

1. Evernote

Taking notes gets that much easier when your notebook is an application that can be accessed from your phone, tablet, and computer. Evernote also lets you efficiently organize your notes, bookmark key words, and even share notebooks with friends. This is a must have app if you want to stay organized and get more done!

 

2. Camscanner

Have you ever hand-wrote an assignment only to realize later that it had to be typed and submitted online? This app provides a solution. Camscanner allows you to take pictures of assignments (or any documents), arrange the order of the pages and compile them all into one PDF document. You’ll never stay up typing up an assignment last minute.

 

3. Slack

We’ve all worked in groups and struggled communicating with all our team members effectively. Slack solves this – it is one of the best platforms for team collaborations. You can set up individual channels for discussion (e.g. “ Media” Channel just for sharing project pictures and more) and directly tag team members (e.g “@Martin can you work on the last slide”) to avoid the diffusion of responsibility. If you are ever working on a group project, remember Slack is the way to go.

 

4.Brainscape

Flash cards will always be around but a trip to the dollar store to buy postcard sized paper and markers will be a thing of the past. The Brainscape app lets you create flash cards right on your phone. Save time and money and get studying for that exam right away by using Brainscape – Smart Flashcards.

 

5. Your University App

The best app to have is the app provided by your college or university. These apps usually carry vital information such as important dates, campus maps, dining hall hours of operations, and a staff directory. More advanced campus apps provide some more functionality such as allowing you to carry a digital student ID, pay for items or courses through the app, chat with campus representatives and colleagues or even order food straight from your phone. You should download your campus app and see what you can use it for, it’s a great way to get more involved with your school and to be in the loop.

 

At Lucova, our FIIT POE platform comes with campus apps that are unprecedented to say the least. We are changing the way students engage with their schools, one smile at a time. Click here to Learn More

Five Food Trends in Campus Dining  

Here are five trends that are “in” and they’re making their way into the campus dining space.

  • Vegan & Vegetarian Options

Universities and Colleges are realizing that some students have certain dietary restrictions and that they’re growing in number, quite rapidly. The reasons for withholding from eating dairy, meat, fish or other animal byproducts could vary from religious reasons, environmental reasons, health consciousness, Lactose intolerance or just pure personal preferences. As this group continues to grow, campus dining directors and food service companies are expanding their options to make satisfy everyone on campus. So yes, Tofu is here to stay.

  • Gluten-Free Options

More and more campuses are now providing Gluten-Free menu items and this means a lot to some students, especially ones with gluten intolerance.  Although Celiac Disease and gluten sensitivity in general is present in a small percentage of most populations, about 1% of the US population suffers from Celiac disease (Healthline), the increase in the demand for these gluten-free options could be because they are seen as a healthier option compared to traditional bread and wheat products. Whatever the reason, gluten-free options are in demand and the variety of options will just continue to increase.

  • Locally Sourced Ingredients

Fresh ingredients always make the best main ingredient for any good dish. It’s no surprise that students are demanding locally sourced ingredients in comparison to produce coming from halfway across the world. Not only that but purchasing locally means helping local businesses and the surrounding community, so it just makes sense to many people. A major value proposition Food Service Providers are now offering is that all their ingredients are locally sourced and are of highest quality. Fresh good food will always be in demand but today it’s a trend that’s combatting global food supply chains that offer lower prices for lower quality ingredients, and students aren’t having it.

  • Made from Scratch Menu Items

Another value proposition food service providers are utilizing is the “made from scratch daily” movement. This goes hand in hand with the demand for locally sourced ingredients, since it leads to fresher and higher quality meals. Students no longer want frozen pizza or oven ready-made lasagna packaged three months ago; they want fresh and tasty food made right in their campus dining hall. This trend is emerging because students are realizing that campuses are trying to cut costs by giving students the short end of the stick and they’re speaking up about it now more than ever.

  • Global Dishes & Flavours

North America is home to numerous cultures and nationalities, so does the food scene must accommodate. It is no surprise to see Indian food or a Middle Eastern Tabbouleh Salad in a college in rural Missouri or Arkansas. These dishes not only provide a taste of home to the thousands of international students in North America but also provide locals with a breath of fresh air from regular food options of burgers, pizza and garden salad. As cultures continue to mix and intertwine, so will the culinary innovations and achievements.

Campus dining is an area which will always be going through changes since the demand comes from millennials, a group of individuals that are know to push for change and catch on every new trend. Therefore Food Service Providers and Campus Dining Directors should always keep an eye and ear out for the latest demands. Click here to learn how Lucova’s Campus Dining Platform can help your foodservice and campus dining hall know what students are looking for right away with our feedback and rating system; this will always keep your service one step ahead of the curve.

Sources: http://www.healthline.com/health-news/is-non-celiac-gluten-sensitivity-a-real-thing-041615#1

Make Experience Your Business

A recent article titled 5 Retailers That Have Made Experience Their Business published by www.cmo.com shines some light on the biggest trends that are currently taking place regarding retail businesses that are impacting both online and brick & mortar store fronts. Here are the 5 retailers that have been profiled in the article and how they are evolving their brands more experience based.

 

  • Sephora

Sephora is creating an in-store and online experiences that creates a sense of community and shows customers that they are valued. If you are visiting the physical store you can get a makeover with expert artists or join a beauty class that covers topics such as “age-defying skincare”. Online Sephora.com has “The Beauty Workshop” which is a collection of How-To videos created by what they call  “Beauty Talk Community” to engage with their customers and provide advice on how to use their products. This unifies their in-store and online experiences to deliver a congruent message.

 

  • Lululemon

From the start Lululemon always tries to be integral part of its local community wherever it is, this still holds true today. Lululemon does this through a variety of means; it turns its stores into yoga studios with classes led by local instructors; it has an “inspiration” section on its website for community members to know what’s happening at local stores; and an in-store bulletin board where employees and other members of the community can share their goals and accomplishments. The Lululemon brand really lives by its brand values and always provides an experience to its customers.

 

  • Kohl’s

One thing Kohl’s is doing to reshape it’s in-store experience is that they are transforming 85% of their store layouts to offer a unique experience every time you visit a different Kohl’s store. They are also creating a greater online presence with three different fulfillment options; order and pick-up in store; buy online; and ship from store. The results so far have been that last year 39% of all orders were fulfilled through one of these three channels. Kohl’s has also launched Kohl’s Pay which allows customers to pay with their phones and save on purchases.

 

  • Rebecca Minkoff

To keep in-store retail alive, CEO Uri Minkoff introduced what he calls “Retail 3.0” at two Rebecca Minkoff locations. Developed in collaboration with eBay is a large interactive screen at the entrance of the store, the screen allows customers to search through products, order drinks to enjoy whilst shopping, and provides recommendations for customers. Even the fitting rooms come equipped with interactive mirrors that allows customers to pick and choose what they would like to try on without having to leave the fitting room. The data from the mirror can also be synced with a mobile app so users know what they liked, disliked, and the sizes that worked for them. The experience is really unique to the retail environment and encourages customers to visit the physical stores. What this brand is doing is a great example of how technology can aid and transform the in-store experience.

 

  • Apple

The experience Apple provides does not only stem from the store layout and the technologies it has at hand but mainly from their employees and the culture they hold so highly. At Apple you are always greeted with highly energetic, comforting individuals who are also product experts that can really help you decide what product is best for you. Another critical aspect is that at Apple you don’t have to grab the item and go wait in line at the cash register. The employee who welcomes you and informs you about the products is the same one that will process your transaction at the point of engagement, which is critical to keep the customer journey experience seamless. Apple’s in-store culture will always be iconic because it’s human-centred but is heavily aided with their technology.

Read more about these retailers here.

 

It is clear that the retail landscape is going through major transformations in order to keep the in-store experience alive ,engaging, meaningful and unforgettable. One part of the customer journey that almost all retailers are looking to make more seamless and efficient is the transaction and sale at the point of sale system (POS). Apple does make the transaction more seamless but there remains some friction points since it is still a traditional transaction. The customer still has to reach for his phone or wallet, they still have to provide some personal information, and then they receive a receipt for the purchase (digital or physical).  

At Lucova we have revolutionized this experience with our In-store Success Platform, turning traditional POS system into a Point-of-Experience™. Our POE platform makes every transaction persona, frictionless and seamless for customer. Customers can just walk in, be greeted by name, and walk out with their product without having to take out anything from their pockets or even have to regurgitate their personal information. 

To learn more about Lucova’s Point of Experience platform, click here. 

FIIT Point of Experience

 

You’re familiar with a Point of Sale (POS), the system that allows merchants to process and capture transactions, but what exactly is a Point of Experience (POE)?

A POE does everything that a POS does – process payments, manage inventory, track sales etc., but there’s a key differentiator. Rather than focus on the transaction, the POE compels brands to focus on the person behind the transaction. Every checkout experience begins with the face and name of the customer standing in front of the terminal. It also contains relevant details about the customer’s likes/dislikes and unique interests, so that their interactions with brands become more meaningful and seamless.

 

If you are looking for a Point of Sale that can create personalized in-store customer experiences, talk to us about FIIT Point of Experience™. Click here to learn more

Three Key POS Trends Driving Innovation

We are indeed going through transformation and disruption across all industries based on innovative technological breakthroughs in recent times. Retail, Food Services, Hospitality and other industries where physical commerce occurs is undergoing similar transformations as new technologies emerge.  In a recent article published by PointofSale.com, Larry Fandel of Fujitsu America, Inc. and Wei Huang Oania, of Intel talk about three such trends in the retail industry driven by innovations in POS systems.

The authors make an insightful observation that “the truly exciting part is that there’s no end in sight; technology will only expand its influence in purchasing decisions for many consumers as retailers increasingly turn to new technologies and products to bridge the gap between digital and physical retail environments.”

Here are three key POS trends that are shaping the industry, as discussed in the article:

1. Usage of big data analytics will increase

2. Increased focus on a personalized in-store customer experience

3. Cloud adoption will increase and outdated legacy systems will be replaced, creating new opportunities for future proofing

From thee trends, we can identify “personalized in-store customer experience” as key innovation when it comes to disruption in retail industry. Accuracy in personalization is becoming increasingly possible with the use of biometrics and artificial intelligence (AI). At Lucova, we have taken these innovations into FIIT Point of Experience™ which allows us to provide a  personalized and humane experience at retail locations. FIIT Point of Experience™ provides the POS operator the ability to refer to customer by their name, provide personalized offers, identify and address account issues and recognize their degree of loyalty.

Larry Fandel & Wei Huang have also pointed out in their article that “customers know the technology retailers have available to them, and in return, expect a better experience because of it.” This is especially true with younger and millennial customers. As we pointed out before, the expectations of millennial customers living in the age of Uber, WhatsApp, WeChat and Tinder are much different than previous generations. Their  expectation can be looked as a challenge by retailers, however it does create an opportunity to make the right changes to future proof business, by adopting new innovations and technologies.

Read the full story here.

 

If you are looking for a Point of Sale that can create personalized in-store customer experiences, talk to us about FIIT Point of Experience™. Click here to learn more

What Gen Z consumers want

We all know that Millennials love their technology but Generation Z takes it a step further, they are technology natives that are expecting more and more from their mobile devices and the companies that serve them. Foodmanagment.com recently put together an article titled What Gen Z restraunt consumers want. The article summarizes the highlights and talking points at the Nation’s Restaurant News (NRA) show. It puts into perspective what players in the foodservice industry should expect from their consumers, especially the younger generations.

One common theme that is prevalent is that food services have to incorporate technology if they want to stay relevant to these coming generations.  Adam Millman, the senior director of Yale Dining went as far as saying that Generation Z  “are willing to wait two hours to go to a place that has the technology behind it, versus the brand they are comfortable with”

If one thing is certain it’s that students and the coming generations want technology to be their point of access. As Millman put it “We’re telling a story. This generation wants to know why we are doing things. And we’re telling that story through technology, which is their major form of communication.”

Read the full story here.

 

Becoming a millennial friendly service

A number of campus food service providers have been undergoing pressures from students to change their operations. Some students are looking for better menu items, others are asking for higher quality ingredients or for items to be made in-house from scratch. Food service providers and university/college administrators have become much more conscious of these demands and are starting to respond. This article is written to help with that response and to prevent these critiques in the first place by keeping the service millennial friendly.

Outlined below are three simple ways to do so.

Give More

If you offer something of value millennial will stick around but most likely they will want to be rewarded for their loyalty. From Air Miles, rebate credit cards, to traditional punch cards, for millennial it’s the norm to get something back for business. Not only do these freebies provide them with instant gratification but it also allows them to justify why they are such loyal patrons to your business. Incorporating any loyalty program (even if it’s the outdated paper punch card) will ensure that you hold on to a number of good apples. 

 

Feedback & Ratings

Upcoming generations are realizing more and more that they have the power to influence business and that the feedback provided by them is heard and accepted by businesses. Thus being able to rate, comment, and write a review on products or services has become the norm. If you want your business to become more millennial like then you have to give users the option to rate and provide feedback. This is always a double-edged sword, for one you can get good constructive feedback and improve your operations or it could go the other way around and you can get destructive exaggerated feedback that can turn potential customers away.  However, one thing is for sure, if your service is poor and you do not provide a rating and feedback option, users will find other places on the internet to shun your business. So giving them a place to vent internally is always better than a place to attack externally.

 

Technology

Almost everybody has a smartphone in their pocket now, along with a number of Mobile Apps that have become permanent part of daily routine for everyone. Today, one can pay, transfer money, enter buildings, and even control the utilities and appliances at home through various mobile apps and services available on smartphones. And who are the greatest users for these smartphones? That’s right – millennial. Therefore, it only makes sense to digitize food service as well and enable students to make use of their phones. A good example of this would be coupons,  baby boomers might look to receive them in their mailboxes while millennial look in the email inbox or on one of the many mobile apps that provide digital coupons. If you want to be embraced the millennial and be known as millennial friendly service, then you have to meet with them where they are –  in the digital world.