Delivering good customer service and providing a positive customer experience are top priorities for retail companies. After all, this particular area can be the difference between a good reputation and a bad reputation, or the difference between a customer choosing your business, or your biggest rival.

It is for this reason that sales organisations invest so heavily in customer service training. However, in addition to improving the core principles of customer service, this training should also teach employees how to make use of new technology. In this article, we look at some of the retail technology advances that are changing the game for good.

1. Faster Payments

One of the biggest modern-day retail customer service challenges is bridging the gap between the convenience of online shopping and the more stressful physical store experience. Nevertheless, one way in which new technology is helping to achieve this is through the introduction of newer, much faster payment methods.

The introduction of contactless credit and debit cards was a major step in the right direction, especially when paired with self-service checkouts. However, more recently we have seen increased adoption of mobile wallets like Apple Pay and Android pay, allowing payment to be carried out via a mobile phone. For retail stores, all they need to do is equip staff with tablet devices, and literally all members of staff can assist with fast checkouts.

“Digital payment options can make the purchase process faster and more convenient for consumers,” says digital transformation strategist, Shelly DeMotte Kramer, in a article for LinkedIn’s Pulse platform. “In addition, all that data generated from digital payments can provide helpful insight into the purchasing patterns of particular shoppers.”

2. Mobile Apps

Mobile apps are often associated with online shopping from home, but they have a role to play in the physical store as well. In actual fact, research from DMI shows that 80 percent of people believe that apps designed to support in-store shopping can improve the overall experience.

Apps can be used to collect data about customers and their habits, and this data can then be accessible to store staff, helping them to tailor the retail customer service provided. Purchases made through the app can also be made available for in-store collection, which improves online customer service by removing the wait for delivery.

Moreover, apps can help shoppers to learn about special offers as they shop, while push notifications can be used to highlight promotions or even offer special discounts. With 90 percent of shoppers now using smartphones in-store, there has never been a better time for retail companies to improve their use of this technology.

3. Beacon Technology

Finally, one of the biggest advances in retail technology has come in the form of smart beacons. Apple paved the way on this and they have been using their iBeacon technology since 2013. By making use of wireless Bluetooth technology, smart beacons are able to alert retailers when customers are near their physical store.

This has huge potential when it comes to customer service. Not only can notifications about new releases or special offers be sent to people who you know are nearby, the data gathered can inform your customer service training by revealing which messages are most successful in attracting customers, or driving up sales.

“Smart beacons take targeted marketing to a whole new level,” says Daniel Newman, writing for Forbes. “What better time to send a customer a coupon or discount code than when they’re standing outside your door.