Robots and Mobile Apps Enhance Customer Experience

Lauren Krause
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Can robots and mobile apps deliver the same great customer service as human representatives? Some retailers certainly think so, and they are using the new technology to enhance their customers' experiences. If used in a way that appeals to customers and helps solve their problems, mobile apps and robots can help retailers and other businesses achieve success.

Home improvement retailer, Lowe's, has started to experiment with using robots to provide help for consumers shopping in their retail stores. Customers tell the robot what item they are interested in purchasing, and the robot leads the customer to the item's location. When used this way, the robot can provide a service similar to one provided by human customer service associate. The robots are very useful in large stores, because they can remember exactly where every item is located.

Although robots have high upfront costs, they are typically more cost effective than ongoing labor costs. On the other hand, robots cannot do everything that human retail assistants can do. For example, a human employee can form a bond with the customer that robots cannot yet manage. This bond can improve the customers' in-store shopping experience, which could result in an increase in customer loyalty. The robots also can't answer all the questions that a human assistant could deal with, such as questions about how to use the product.

Currently, the Lowe's robots are a novelty. Customers enjoy using the technology because it is innovative and new. Time will tell whether robots end up becoming a common feature in retail stores and other customer service roles.

In addition to robots, many companies are using mobile apps to enhance their customers' overall experience. Some retailers' mobile apps allow consumers to find out whether products they need are in stock in a particular store, look up the store's location and opening hours, and even reserve products to pick up later. Also, many retailers also offer customers the opportunity to shop online using mobile apps instead of their web browsers.

More than 70 percent of smartphone owners claim that they think more positively of companies who offer comprehensive mobile apps, which suggests that mobile apps could be a very useful way for retailers to market their brand. For example, mobile apps give companies the opportunity to target specific markets by collecting customer data through the app. They can use this data to send targeted coupons and discount codes to customers based on the customer's personal interest or past purchases.

In order to enhance their customers' experiences, retailers need to embrace new technology, such as using robots to provide in-store service and creating mobile apps. When used correctly, both options have the potential to enhance the customer's overall experience.


Photo courtesy of Boians Cho Joo Young at



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