Shell tests technologies to boost customer experience
In its continuing efforts to provide customers with greater convenience and a better overall experience, Shell USA has become the first petrol retailer to adopt the 'Pay By Touch' biometric payment technology at its pumps and inside its convenience stores.
Shell is also currently testing other technologies such as at-the-pump digital video displays, and hand-held wireless card scanners for fuel pump attendants.
Biometric payments The new Pay By Touch biometric payment terminals that Shell has installed at selected Chicagoland stations verifies the customer's identity using a finger scan. Once the customer's identity is confirmed, a linked payment account (e.g. a cheque account, a Shell Card, or a Shell MasterCard) is then used to pay for the fuel purchase. Customers can sign up for the service online or in-store at any Pay By Touch-equipped service station.
According to Chris Suess, manager of global refuelling innovations, "Customers are going to walk away satisfied with this technology because it's faster, easier and more secure, which means more convenience and peace of mind. And because the driver must be physically present to conduct the transaction, we will be able to reduce the risk of fraud and make transactions safer for our customers."
Entertaining tests At the same time, some "infotainment" technologies are also launching at various Shell-branded stations across the United States to help improve overall customer experiences and to educate them about the importance of fuel quality.
To reach customers accustomed to digital communication channels, Shell installed FuelCast digital pump screens at nearly 300 Shell-branded locations across the US (notably the same sites that have had Pay By Touch installed). These broadcasts offer a mix of programming, in-store promotions, and advertising, allowing customers to get the latest sports scores and breaking news as they fill their tank.
Real-time rewards The company's REEP programme also provides customers with instant rewards, including fuel price rollbacks or discounts, car wash discounts, and receipt-based coupons for convenience store items. These offers are communicated to customers at the pump, through an electronic display on the pump screen during the filling process. The system also delivers messaging about the benefits of Shell fuels and the rebates that can be earned by using the Shell MasterCard.
In addition, the company has also invested in a travelling exhibit to demonstrate to consumers the benefits of using high quality fuels to stop dirt building up in critical engine parts.
According to Suess, "We know our customers, on average, are only with us for less than five minutes. So it is important that customers get the most from their money and their time. Features such as FuelCast, or REEP, make the experience more enjoyable and memorable."
Hand held scanners Shell has also begin trialling the use of hand-held card scanners in other countries (e.g. Central America, India and Indonesia). Similar to customer service models seen in restaurants in Europe or at car rental agencies in the US, the pump attendant uses a wireless card scanner to process payments at the car window, allowing customers to stay comfortably seated in their vehicle. In countries where the risk of payment card fraud is potentially high, this helps to add an extra level of trust because the customer's card remains in full sight at all times.
"In total, Shell is conducting these various payment and infotainment tests to determine what resonates most with customers, to help make the right decisions about what to adopt across various markets globally," Suess concluded.