Connect with us

Tech Shop!

TechShop!: Beyond Fintech




Photography: Andy Austin

I was recently in Amsterdam, and as I always do when I’m there, I stopped in to check out the Adyen pop-up in the company’s headquarters on the Rokin, one of the city’s main streets. The most recent version of the pop-up, using the tagline “Ajax for the future,” demonstrated Adyen’s fintech solutions in a shop selling merchandise for the soccer team Ajax.

The pop-up is intended to show how Adyen’s offering improves the customer experience by using mobile terminals to make payment an easier, more frictionless part of the purchase process.

What they’re doing is great – but they’re optimizing payments, not the entire customer experience.

They should be applauded for offering a vision of the store of the future when too many actual retailers don’t dare to do that. Still, the kind of technology they’re offering should be invisible to customers – it shouldn’t be out front. If Adyen is doing their job, you won’t know they’re there.

Mobile payment terminals have nothing to do with listening to the customer, interacting with them, understanding their needs, or offering a personalized experience that recognizes that customer’s unique relationship with your brand.


Personalizing the Customer Experience

The gap between improved payment terminals and actual customer experience was wide when I visited the pop-up – I went to touch an iPad in the shop only to have my hand swiped away by an employee.

So, customer experience could be improved at this pop-up – and at numerous other stores worldwide.

That employee had the same reaction that too many salespeople have had for millennia: “Someone’s walking in the door, I don’t know what they want. I don’t know what they’ve bought from us before. I don’t even know why they’re here.”

Amazon can answer all those questions every time you visit their website – and if you can’t answer them too, you will lose to them.

If you’re in a marketing, merchandising or sales leadership role, why aren’t you losing sleep every night worrying about why customer experience isn’t working? Why isn’t your leadership demanding that you personalize the experience for your customers? And why are you allowing a fintech company to claim a leadership position in customer experience?


Because if you’re talking to a payments company about improving your customer experience as a brand, you’re wasting your time. Improving payment processing is helpful, sure – but it’s not doing much to improve customer experience.

Tech-Enabled Customer Interaction

Think of McDonald’s, which often has self-service kiosks alongside employees at cash registers. The kiosks are great, but they don’t replace the human connection with the person at the cash register – at best, they offer a perfunctory, efficient transaction.

Instead, imagine offering dozens of different AI personas on those kiosks capable of having natural language conversations. The kiosk is triggered by your phone to launch your favorite persona, who welcomes you back, asks if you want to repeat your favorite order and goes through a conversation to customize it.

Or think of Home Depot – their app is pretty great: you can create a shopping list before you go to the store, and it can tell you exactly where to find each item; or, if you prefer, you can have your items collected and checked out for you in advance, so all you have to do is pick them up.

But imagine walking into Home Depot, picking up a strap wrench, scanning it either at a kiosk or using the app on your phone – and an AI persona has a conversation with you, understands what you’re buying that wrench for, offers you a step-by-step video that walks you through that project, and suggests key accessories you might need.


Now, you’re not just leaving the store with the thing you intended to buy – you’re also leaving with crucial knowledge and with other items you invariably would have forgotten.

Engaged, Helpful Conversations

What if you could go to a store and get immediate help that is responsive, personal, friendly and substantially more knowledgeable than a salesperson could ever be? Would that translate into more sales? Better customer experience? Improved loyalty and create a reason to come back to the store?

Customer experiences can’t just be text- and image-driven anymore, and they can’t be one-way – they have to be bi-directional. They have to be a mutual and engaged conversation that are as human as possible, even when they’re driven by technology.

You don’t have to choose between the efficiency of the app or the self-service kiosk and the connection with the employee. With the right technology focused on an optimal customer experience, you can have both.

Andy leads a team that continuously pushes the limits of technology to create relevant, seamless connections between people and brands, and to deliver in-store and on brand technology solutions. A proven authority in customer experience and product realization, particularly in retail environments, Andy has a decade of brand-side sales, marketing and operations experience in the wireless and consumer electronics industries. He has spearheaded a multitude of next-generation initiatives through the development of smart customer-facing technologies, including the first worldwide launch of the award-winning Microsoft Surface within AT&T stores. As a former Executive Director, Retail Customer Experience at AT&T, Andy evolved the Cingular Wireless mobile phone stores to ATT's experiential shopping experience. His team initiated the use of digital tools to augment the relationship creation between shopper and salesperson.


Most Popular