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How facial recognition will revolutionise customer experiences
Wed, 9th Nov 2016
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Facial recognition technology is now fast and accurate enough that it is being used at international airports to identify potential terrorists, and is currently under consideration in Australia to replace the use of passports. While the potential power of facial recognition is starting to be explored, there is still a long way to go in harnessing its extensive capabilities to drive sales, influence consumer behaviour, and make our daily lives safer and more secure.

Organisations that start to leverage the capabilities of these technologies early will lead the way in delivering world-class customer experiences. Here are three of the many benefits business leaders should be considering when assessing how facial recognition could improve their products and offerings, whilst simultaneously improving the customer experiences being delivered.

Delivering faster services with less hassle

Ever had the experience of completing forms or documents with your personal information and thought, “Surely there's a better way to do this”? With facial recognition, there could be. Whether it's completing rental applications, healthcare forms, university applications, or travelling overseas, facial recognition technology could remove the need for paper-driven and time-consuming processes, and shorten the entire sales cycle to enable businesses to make money faster, while customers can receive their services more efficiently.

For example, in April 2016, China-based insurance company Ping An announced the world's first ‘face recognition loan', which allows users to complete an online loan application in six minutes – the fastest in China. While Ping An has clearly made a financial investment into developing and implementing this new technology, the ROI on being able to offer the fastest service in the region will evidently pay off.

Leveraging data to boost commercial capabilities

More than ever, data is money. The healthcare industry, in particular, is proving just how broadly and extensively data can be used to enable smarter business decisions and drive profits. Using Fitbit data to understand what time of day people like to run, or using robots within hospitals for technical surgeries are just some of the ways data-driven health technologies can be used to address real customer needs.

Imagine adding facial recognition to this mix – patients could walk straight into a hospital and be directed to the exact room and doctor relevant to their appointment, danger-prone or criminal visitors could be stopped at the door, and medical staff can be clocked in and out of shifts automatically without swipe cards, which are easily forgotten, or manual time inputs, which are easily manipulated.  

Furthermore, in the retail industry, personalised experiences are proven to deliver higher sales. According to recent research by Accenture, over half (56%) of consumers are more likely to shop at a retailer that recognises them by name, 58% are more likely to make a purchase recommended based on a previous purchase or preference, and two-thirds (65%) are more likely to shop at a retailer that knows their purchase history.

Facial recognition could enable all of these capabilities in real-time by integrating with retailers' backend databases. By delivering these kinds of hyper-personalised experiences instantaneously as a customer is passing a store or advertisement, retailers could drive higher sales, measure marketing campaigns more accurately, and reach never before attained levels of customer engagement.

Enabling safer and more reliable customer experiences

With the boom of the sharing economy, and as consumers become increasingly comfortable with letting strangers into their homes through services like Airtasker and Airbnb, ensuring that the latest technologies are used for consumers' safety and security will be critical.

Already earlier this year in China, Uber used a local start-up specialising in facial recognition software to introduce a facial recognition safety feature which matched drivers' faces with their profile pictures. This was implemented to minimise the risk of situations like those of last month where fake profile pictures were used to scare off customers and allow drivers to ‘earn' money from cancellation fees.

While facial recognition may seem new and unexplored today, it will soon join the ranks of mobile and smartphones, swipe technology, and contactless payments as a new standard in customer interactivity. Consumers are historically ahead of businesses when it comes to adopting new technologies, but organisations that can start leveraging facial recognition early will be uniquely positioned to direct consumer behaviour in their favour.