The Top 15 Reasons To Use Biometric Technology In Workforce Management And Retail Point Of Sale – Reason #6 – Build Customer Loyalty

Blog Series – “The Top 15 Reasons To Use Biometric Technology In Workforce Management And Retail Point Of Sale”

Leading up to our participation in the National Retail Federation’s 2011 “Retail’s Big Show” from January 9 – 12 in New York city, M2SYS Technology is publishing a blog series on the top 15 reasons that biometrics is a smart choice for retail organizations to consider as an authentication technology in workforce management and retail point of sale applications.

In case you missed it, here are the links to our prior posts in the series:

Reason #1 – Stop Buddy Punching
Reason #2 – Increase Productivity
Reason #3 – Enhance Loss Prevention
Reason #4 – Establish Accountability
Reason #5 – Going Green

And now on to our next post…

Reason #6 – Build Customer Loyalty

How Do You Define A “Loyal” Customer?

All businesses strive to create a loyal customer base.  Loyal customers not only bring repeat business, but they also act as your own army of evangelists, telling their friends, coworkers, family and even strangers to buy from you and frequent your establishment.  The dawn of social and digital media has had a huge impact on communication for loyal customers, providing them with a platform and a seamless distribution network to sing their praises and draw attention to your business through reviews, recommendations and opinions.

Loyal customers can be quick to defend you against negative press or chatter about your product or service.  However, we all know that it usually only takes one miniscule slip up on your part to turn a loyal customer into a snarky pest, bent on incessantly bashing your company so the world knows what a terrible job you are doing.  How then do you keep loyal customers loyal?  What steps do you take and what types of ongoing programs do you have in place to ensure that loyal customers remain happy and continue to virally spread the positive word about your product or service?

Creating And Maintaining “Loyalty” Requires A Multi-Faceted Plan

It is highly unlikely that you can create and maintain a semblance of customer loyalty through an isolated campaign.  That may be enough to reign in a customer and establish and initial stroke of loyal behavior, but to make loyalty stick, you need a well thought out, multi-faceted approach to harvesting customer loyalty and making it last.  Usually, this requires a superior customer service platform that quickly and efficiently responds to customer requests, complaints and issues.  Coupled with that is normally a campaign that rewards customers for purchases and provides them with incentives to purchase more through discounts and special offers.  You may also establish a referral program which encourages loyal, happy customers to refer their friends, family or co-workers to buy your product or use your service in return for a finder’s fee or a discount on an upcoming purchase.  There are a million and one initiatives you can concoct and put into action to nurture customer loyalty, but often times the secret to consistently creating and maintaining loyal customers lies within their experience and interactions while they visit your place of business.

Biometric Technology Helps To Create And Maintain Loyal Customers

To combat the massive amount of return fraud that retail establishments experience, imagine if you owned a store and decided to institute a policy which required a customer to provide biometric information for return of merchandise without a receipt.  You may hear a few gripes from customers that this is an unnecessary policy and the “honors system” should be enough to merit a return absent of a receipt but you have decided that this is the only sure way to curb fraudulent returns and help stop profit loss.  At the risk of losing a small amount of customers that refuse to provide their biometric data for returns without a receipt, you realize that this biometric identification policy not only helps eliminate the proliferation of fraudulent returns, but it also demonstrates to customers that you want to keep the prices of your products low by instituting policies and procedures that safeguard against return fraud.

Enacting policies which prove to create savings that will ultimately be passed on to your customers is a smart way to create and maintain loyal customers.  Instead of exclusively focusing on programs that reward customers by providing incentives to purchase more, you cover the back end of your business with a policy that clearly demonstrates your willingness to hold prices down by removing the ability of criminals to essentially take advantage of your existing customers by artificially inflating costs through their fraudulent returns.  Smart move.

How Do You Know Which Biometric System Is A Good Fit?

Determining the type of biometric identification system that best suits your needs is an important first step.  There are different biometric software systems that perform different functions.  Biometric hardware also comes in different forms, each with its own advantages and functionalities.  The key is consulting with an expert, like the ones on staff here at M2SYS.  We can help you to identify and deploy the correct biometric system with the correct hardware to ensure near 100% read rates.

Please contact us to learn more about biometric technology and the advantages that it can create for your business.

What other non-traditional customer loyalty programs to you have that work well?  Please share them in the comments below.

The Top 15 Reasons To Use Biometric Technology In Workforce Management And Retail Point Of Sale – Reason #5 – “Going Green”

Blog Series – “The Top 15 Reasons To Use Biometric Technology In Workforce Management And Retail Point Of Sale”

Leading up to our participation in the National Retail Federation’s 2011 “Retail’s Big Show” from January 9 – 12 in New York city, M2SYS Technology is publishing a blog series on the top 15 reasons that biometrics is a smart choice for retail organizations to consider as an authentication technology in workforce management and retail point of sale applications.

In case you missed it, here are the links to our prior posts in the series:

Reason #1 – Stop Buddy Punching
Reason #2 – Increase Productivity
Reason #3 – Enhance Loss Prevention
Reason #4 – Establish Accountability

And now on to our next post…

Reason #5 – Going “Green”

What Does It Mean To Be Truly “Go Green”?

Seems like whatever direction you turn these days, everyone is trying to push society to adopt habits that are friendlier to the environment.  Whether it’s dropping plastic or paper grocery bags in favor of reusable bags, switching from incandescent bulbs to fluorescent bulbs, hybrid cars over internal combustion engines, solar/wind power over coal burning power plants or maybe it’s participating in a curbside recycling program.  There are umpteen ways to become more environmentally conscientious and a plethora of choices around us to help lower our carbon footprint on this planet.

The idea behind “going green” is adopting personal habits and behaviors that lead to consuming less natural resources or using products and/or services that rely less on chemical or synthetic materials in their production and therefore produce less waste.  It’s also developing a heightened awareness of the environment around all of us, what constitutes the slow, often unnecessary destruction of that environment and how simple lifestyle and product consumption choices can significantly impact our surroundings.  But wait, there’s more…

“Going Green” also means that we not only do what’s within our power to reduce our carbon footprint, but we also take steps to encourage others to do the same.  If we own a business, we take all necessary measures to ensure responsible environmental behavior by carefully crafting a business plan that is centered on the highest profit at the lowest cost with the least possible impact on the environment.

Biometrics Reduces Paper Waste

Earlier this year, M2SYS wrote about how biometric technology reduces paper waste.  We pointed out that each year, Americans waste enough paper to build a 12-foot wall of paper from New York to California.  One way to reduce the amount of paper used in a business is to switch from antiquated paper and pen time and attendance techniques to biometric based time clock software.

Another way you can use biometrics to help the environment is by switching from plastic membership cards to a biometric check in system.  Here is an excerpt from a blog post we wrote earlier this year about why biometrics is a great solution for club and membership management:

“Think for a moment about the amount of energy, time and resources that are needed to manufacture one plastic membership card.  Now multiply that by the number of members at your facility.  Now multiply that by the number of locations.  Perhaps you are a national chain and have locations all throughout the country or even across the globe.  Add them all up and then factor in all of the other membership facilities throughout the world who still have not adopted biometric technology.    The fact is that according to a recent report on CNN, “Americans generate enough plastic in one year to shrink wrap the state of Texas.”  Granted, most of that plastic created is through the manufacturing of consumer products but as a business owner, you can do your part to help reduce your carbon footprint by switching to a biometric solution that eradicates the need to create any plastic cards whatsoever.  If you print the ID cards directly at your facility, this translates into less ink for the printers, less electricity to run the laminator, less paper being consumed and less waste being generated by the production process and the absence of discarding expired or unused cards.   It also makes members happier that they no longer have to worry about carrying around an ID card that they could potentially lose or become stolen.”

How many retail establishments offer their customers plastic cards for membership, rewards, clubs, gifts, discounts, etc.?  How about employee and manager ID cards?  Imagine if all of these businesses adopted biometric authentication for these programs instead of issuing a plastic card.  There is no doubt that if this were to become a reality, millions and millions of pounds of waste would be eliminated and it would have a tremendous impact on the environment.

Developing A “Green Identity”

Here at M2SYS, we often dream about a world absent of plastic membership cards and the role that biometrics will one day play in the effort to encourage all people on the planet to develop a “green identity.”  We often ask ourselves, “What can we do to help reduce the 251 million tons of waste disposed in our landfills each year?”  Our vision is to somehow rid the world of the plastic identification cards that fill our wallets and switch to biometric technology as a viable means of authentication and identification.  Biometrics removes the need for you to carry anything to establish positive identification, everything you would need is already with you wherever you go.

Let’s face it, plastic is ubiquitous.  The United States Census Bureau recorded that 576.4 million credit and 507 million debit cards were in circulation within the U.S. in 2009.  Although this is merely one slice of the plastic pie, incorporating biometric authentication systems for financial transactions would have a monumental effect on the amount of plastic used and positively impact the environment.  Reduction of plastic use in this country needs to be attacked on many levels with technology that was specifically designed to replace these outdated and environmentally unfriendly business tools.  Biometrics is one of the key technologies to accomplish this and worth investigating if you are looking to inject or boost environmentally conscientious initiatives in your business.

What are some other things you have done to become more environmentally conscientious?  We welcome your comments, stories and observations!

The Top 15 Reasons To Use Biometric Technology in Workforce Management And Retail Point Of Sale – Reason #4 – Accountability

Leading up to our participation in the National Retail Federation’s 2011 “Retail’s Big Show” from January 9 – 12 in New York city, M2SYS Technology is publishing a blog series on the top 15 reasons that biometrics is a smart choice for retail organizations to consider as an authentication technology in workforce management and retail point of sale applications.

In case you missed it, here are the links to our prior posts in the series:

Reason #1 – Stop Buddy Punching
Reason #2 – Increase Productivity
Reason #3 – Enhance Loss Prevention

And now on to our next post…

Reason #4 – Establish Employee Accountability

What Does It Mean To Be Held “Accountable” For Your Actions?

We have been writing these blog posts to highlight tangible ways that biometric technology can save money, time and resources for retail establishments.  Today, we want to talk about a topic that proves how biometrics can add something intangible to a retail business.  Something that is tough to quantify, but nevertheless has a significant impact on the work environment, corporate culture and employee attitude.  That topic is accountability.

What exactly does it mean to be held “accountable” for something?  The literal definition of “accountability” is:

an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions

Why then, is it so difficult at times to get your employees to act in a manner that demonstrates their accountability for performance on the job?   Often times the answer to that may lay within the infrastructure of your business.  Does the environment that you create for your employees foster a sense of commitment from employees to deliver the value that you expect?  Do you carefully monitor the style of your manager(s) to ensure that they are not inadvertently stifling employee accountability?  Is your business suffering from a failure to communicate goals, poor hiring decisions or inadequate delegation of responsibilities?  These are all very important questions to ask, and looking at the processes and procedures in place for your managers and staff to execute the day to day operations of the business is a vital area to diagnose.

Why Technology Matters As A Tool To Hold People Accountable

There is no doubt that if you have identified accountability as an issue at your business, you have taken a multi-faceted approach to unraveling the root cause.  Most likely, you looked at the effectiveness of your leadership, the clarity of your strategic direction, employee engagement, the “execution mentality” of the firm and other areas.  You may also have studied your system of monitoring and review.  Chances are if you took this step then you probably studied what technology you are using to help keep the gears of the business machine operating.  If you suddenly discovered that you were not using modern technology to safeguard your inventory and profits then you may have uncovered a crack in the shell of your staff accountability platform.

Think about a scenario where you may be using outdated point of sale (POS) software.  It has become so easy and so well known amongst employees how to rip off the system by simulating false returns, skimming profits or stealing inventory that even though all employees don’t engage in stealing, most all know how to do it.  Hence, the honest employee who knows how to manipulate the system but chooses not to probably doesn’t feel a sense of pride about the job, the company or the internal systems in place.  Stripped of their sense of ownership, pride and enthusiasm, they most likely will not feel accountable for their actions even though they truly are not engaging in any type of perfidious behavior.  It’s the atmosphere that creates an environment absent of accountability for these employees.

It’s easier to trace back a lack of accountability for those employees who do steal, lie and cheat.  Simply stated, they discover a way to cheat the system and when successful, abandon all sense of accountability for their actions.  They decide that since the systems in place allow them to take advantage of it, why should they hold themselves accountable for anything they do?

How Does Biometric Technology Create Accountability?

If the POS software you are using is archaic, subject to malfeasance and corrupting your staff then why not consider incorporating a system that removes these inadequacies?  Biometric technology ensures that there is a clear audit trail for transactions, thereby encouraging responsibility from your staff to act ethically and be accountable for their actions.

Biometric technology in a POS software application also leaves no doubt of the individual identity on who is performing a transaction and removes the possibility of swapping ID’s, passwords or PIN’s.  This creates a sense of accountability among employees because they can consider biometric technology their “get out of jail free” card.  Biometrics removes the fear that the employee will somehow be falsely accused or framed for an illegal act against their employer which they did not commit.

All of these points are strong arguments to consider adopting biometric technology in your establishment as a means to strengthen accountability among your employees.  What’s holding you back?  What are some other ways that you have found which work well in boosting employee accountability?

The Top 15 Reasons To Use Biometric Technology in Workforce Management And Retail Point Of Sale – Reason #3 – Loss Prevention

Leading up to our participation in the National Retail Federation’s 2011 “Retail’s Big Show” from January 9 – 12 in New York city, M2SYS Technology is publishing a blog series on the top 15 reasons that biometrics is a smart choice for retail organizations to consider as an authentication technology in workforce management and retail point of sale applications.

Attending the show?  Visit M2SYS at booth #156 to enter to won a brand new 3G Kindle Reader with Wifi! Click here for details.

Reason #3 – Loss Prevention

Employee’s Are Stealing From Your Business

Back in September we wrote about the ways that biometric technology is beneficial for the retail point of service (POS) environment. In that blog post, we discussed three practical applications of the technology to help solve problems inherent in a POS environment.  Today, we want to focus on one of those applications in particular – how biometrics can bolster a loss prevention policy.

Like it or not, employees steal from their employers.  A lot.  Consider these recent statistics about employee theft:

  • 75% of all employees steal at least once, half of those steal repeatedly (U.S. Department of Commerce)
  • One out of every three business failures is the direct result of employee theft (U.S. Department of Commerce)
  • Employee dishonesty costs American business in excess of $50 billion annually (U.S. Department of Commerce)
  • 65% of IT crime is traceable to insiders (National Retail Security Survey)
  • 48% of merchandise losses are attributable to employees (National Retail Security Survey)
  • 20% of every dollar earned by a U.S. company is lost to employee theft (American Society of Employers)

These statistics are alarming and truly shed a light on just how critical a bulletproof loss prevention program is and how a successful program can bolster profits for a business’s bottom line.

What Do You Do?

There are many methods to incorporating a loss prevention program that prevents or drastically reduces employee theft.  Conventional programs rely on technology such as security cameras, barcode swipe cards or personal identification numbers (PINs) for inventory management and transactional purposes but there are holes in these loss prevention measures that render them less than acceptable as a solution.  For example, if you own a restaurant and have issued a barcode scanning ID card to each of your employees that grants access levels to your computer system or areas within the store, you are taking a role based security approach to your loss prevention strategy.

Role based security measures prevent employees from executing manager level transactions when they aren’t authorized.  One of the problems with this strategy is – what happens when the manager is busy and the customer is in a hurry?  Do you sacrifice service and security integrity by allowing the employee to temporarily borrow the manager’s card, perform the transaction and then return it to the manager when they are finished?  How would you know if the employee didn’t take advantage of having the manager’s barcode ID card and enter in fraudulent returns or sales to steal money?  Conventional approaches to loss prevention are less than airtight and can sometimes do a poor job of preventing the root causes of employee theft which drastically eats away at profits.

How Is Biometric Technology Different As Part Of A Loss Prevention Strategy?

As we discussed in our recent posting on how biometrics increases employee productivity, adopting biometric technology in a retail POS environment eliminates the need for logon ID’s and passwords.  An employee can’t borrow a swipe card or a PIN to perform a transaction or task that is above their permission level because a manager must be physically present to offer their biometric authentication for the authorization to be completed.

Another great example to demonstrate the prominence of biometric technology is in the area of access control.  Many businesses address the need to establish an access control system for authorized areas by simply locking a door or installing a swipe card reader that releases a door strike when a barcode card is swiped or a PIN number is entered.  The problem with this approach is that someone can steal a key or PIN to gain access to the authorized area.  If a biometric access control device were installed, then it would be impossible to gain access to the authorized area unless a person who had security clearance was physically present to open the door.

Consider Biometric Technology When Researching Loss Prevention Measures

Obviously, biometrics alone is not the sole answer to the question of how to create an effective loss prevention program.  You must also follow other best practices such as carefully screening employees before hire, instituting and communicating a zero tolerance policy for employee theft, offering incentives and rewards for alerting management to employees engaging in unscrupulous behavior, etc.  Biometric technology is not the means to the end of employee theft, but rather part of an overall strategy to curtail it to the best of your ability along with other preventative measures.

If you are just starting a business or perhaps you have been in business for years but are reassessing your loss prevention policy, please research biometric technology as an option.  You can always contact us if you have questions, need additional examples or are curious about pricing on how biometrics can be a smart solution for enhancing any loss prevention program.

What additional loss prevention policies have you found to be most effective?  How have you caught your employees stealing from your company?  Please share your stories and leave a comment.

Biometric Technology For Mobile Applications – Mainstream Adoption Is Right Around The Corner

We stumbled across an article today that caught our eye and got us thinking about biometrics, and it’s mainstream application as a security feature for mobile devices.  The article is called “Biometric Security Now A Reality With Bio-Lock Coming To Android Soon.” Here is the link:

http://androidheadlines.com/2010/12/biometric-security-now-a-reality-with-biolock-coming-to-android-soon.html

The article describes an innovative new biometric technology application from a company called BluePlanet Apps, which debuted the application recently at the Apps World Conference.  The technology allows a user to incorporate a biometric authentication security feature to their phone or tablet device which requires a valid face or iris scan in order to unlock the device for use.  You also have the option of setting the application to enter a password for access to circumvent biometric authentication.  It’s a cutting edge technology and sure to catch on quickly with those consumers who seek to incorporate the highest level security available to safeguard their data and identity.

Our take: The article got us thinking about biometrics in mobile applications.  As you may or may not know, the U.S. actually trails most of the developed world in full scale adaptation of the mobile device as the main tool and resource for electronic communication.

The main driver of biometric authentication for smart phones/tablets is their position to overtake personal computers as the preferred modem of communication and transactions.  Since extremely sensitive transactions are performed on the these devices and they possess multi-faceted functionality, there will be a very pressing need to develop airtight security.  Developing countries will no doubt continue to lead the switch from computers to phones so it is even more important to develop security applications due to their larger number of criminals/hackers and less stringent security measures.  In the U.S., as more individuals ditch their laptops and PC’s as the primary electronic communication tool, biometric authentication will become even more integral in safeguarding data and identities to prevent access from criminals/hackers and subsequent exploitation.

The key for the biometrics industry is developing seamless technology for these security interfaces that is reliable and user friendly. While biometrics is arguably the safest and securest method of protecting your data on an electronic device, it has been known to be difficult to use and understand.  We feel that mobile devices provide the perfect opportunity to change the perception of the technology and make it more acceptable to the general public.

What types of biometric authentication do you have on your mobile device?  Does give you an increased level of safety and security that you didn’t feel with other security applications?