Near Field Communication (NFC) is poised to change the customer experience by helping businesses and consumers receive data through mobile devices in real-time. The NFC technology will reshape a wide array of industries by helping consumers be more informed in their interactions with a business and helping businesses be more informed about their customers’ needs.
A Quick Snapshot of NFC Technology
NFC is a short-range, low-power communications protocol between two devices. NFC-enabled devices evolved from Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID), with the ability to both send and receive information. One device, the initiator, can communicate and transfer data in both directions over a short distance (4 inches).
An active device can send, receive and initiate transmissions. A passive device may only respond and usually will only send data – not receive. Passive NFC ‘tags’ on posters, in shops and on trains could contain a web address, discount voucher, map or bus timetable that passers-by could touch their phones on to receive – or to instantly pay for anything.
For instance, as you’re moving, you pause and find yourself looking at a brand’s apparel in a store window. You would then hold your smartphone near the specially marked display and an ad would pop up. That is proactive marketing and could enhance part of the customer experience. Today’s scan codes can do that too, but NFC takes that experience one step further and by allowing the merchant to interact with the consumer. The merchant can know what the customer is looking at and perhaps what he or she has looked at in the past, in order to make a promotion they might take.
Many of the industries we work with, such as healthcare and transportation will benefit when NFC receives universal adoption. Here are some applications for how NFC improves both of these industries, along with some complexities it will bring:
The healthcare industry is constantly evolving their support system to help nurses and other trained professionals interpret data in real-time to better serve patients. NFC can help healthcare professionals communicate with patients and other providers by providing details, such as treatment information, as they’re seeing patients and updating critical information about the patient’s care.
This strategy allows other providers to operate more efficiently and see a complete picture of the patient’s medical care history, cutting down on the amount of time patients need to spend in the office. Due to the shift in the marketplace, which will place the emphasis on serving individual customers rather than large employers, the customer experience will be more crucial than ever. NFC will help provide exceptional service through easier communication among doctors and may help to reduce risks. As an example, placing tags on medicine bottles so prescription refills become a more seamless experience, with quality checks “built-in” to the treatment.
As NFC technology gains popularity among other industries, the customer (or in this case, the patient) demands faster turnaround, better insights and a treatment plan that will get them back to full health as quickly as possible. By shortening the amount of time patients are required to spend in a doctor’s office and limiting risk, the healthcare provider can increase their efficiency and provide higher quality care, while reducing costs.
Imagine the competitive advantage an airline could gain by providing service that stood head and shoulders above the rest. By leveraging NFC technology further, an airline could potentially reduce common customer experience problems, such as lost luggage and last-minute flight delays, with improved communication of potential issues. For instance, passengers can add NFC tags to their luggage that displays the flight number and destination, which can then be scanned by existing airport equipment, thus eliminating the need for printing out and attaching a paper luggage tag.
Another example is public transportation. Some big cities already implement NFC payment transactions in their transit systems, creating a more efficient transportation experience. Commuters yearn to spend as little time on public transit as possible going to and from work. Transportation must realize this unique opportunity to be innovative and improve customer satisfaction as the technology becomes readily available.
How NFC Affects Business Processes
As NFC brings consumers closer to their providers, companies will need the infrastructure and flexible workforce in-place to respond to a widening set of topics that customers will bring to customer service agents. In a customer-service oriented environment, training for more complex interactions becomes increasingly important to these industries. It will be critical that customer care centers have the infrastructure and staff in place that can incorporate the new flood of real-time, customer-specific information and use that data to provide an enhanced experience.
By implementing NFC technology, businesses can complement their existing customer service efforts, and enhance each person’s interaction with their products and services.
For more information on how technology can improve your customer experience, contact us.