Shoppers are hungry for a post-COVID shopping experience. Are you ready to give it to them?

For the past twelve months, working in retail has been markedly different than before. Masked shoppers are used to seeing reminders about social distance and curbside pickup. Weekend crowds evaporated amidst restrictions and consumer concerns about COVID safety.

Today, however, is a much different story. Nearly half the American public has been vaccinated—and the CDC rescinded aspects of its mask mandate. Even before that, shoppers had begun to return to malls and stores in numbers not seen in months. Retailers such as Macy’s, Home Depot, and Walmart have all had near double-digit percentage increases in sales in the last quarter.

Many in the retail sphere are ready to pop the champagne about all this. The nightmare of the pandemic seems to be lifting. But what happens now? In the last twelve months, there have been numerous phone and tablet launches. Two versions of Samsung Galaxy S10 launched in 2020, and another in January. The iPhone 12 launched in the Fall of 2020, with a purple model still new to the shelves. There have also been two new iPad Pro releases in that time frame.

Now that shoppers are filing back into stores, the question becomes—are retailers ready for them?

For the last year, experts advised everyone to stay away from public places. They warned people not to touch anything, and to prepare for a possible economic catastrophe. But today most find themselves healthy and protected from COVID. They find themselves with a pocket full of stimulus money and a very big craving for something new.

This may drive greater than normal traffic in the coming months, with much higher product engagement. Additionally, the global semiconductor shortage has also made new mobile devices even more precious.

This amped up demand is a fantastic opportunity for retailers. This is your chance make a positive lasting impression by delivering a fantastic shopping experience. Here are some tips that can help your store do just that.

Welcome them back with a great customer experience

During the pandemic, retail didn’t see the kind of downturns that hospitality and travel industries faced. In fact, retail sales rose 6.9% in 2020 versus 2019. But in spite of that healthy increase, twenty-one US retailers went bankrupt in 2020. Consumers were still very interested in spending. They just weren’t interested in doing it in stores. Now, that is set to change. It’s more important than ever to remind your customers of the advantages of shopping in person.

When it comes to shopping for phones, tablets, smart watches, and other gadgets, the advantage lies with brick-and-mortar stores. While websites can make a lot of promises, there is nothing like holding the gadget in your hand. Consumers crave the experience of holding the device. It’s important to merchandise them in a way that maximizes those attributes. Merchants, therefore, must find retail security solutions that don’t sacrifice in aesthetics or customer experience.

Maximize your inventory by reducing in-store theft

With new product in high demand, every single on-hand piece of merchandise is important. Getting that device into a paying customer’s hands is essential. This places even greater emphasis on reducing internal and external theft. Data-driven retail technologies can help give you greater visibility on who accesses merchandise. Not only does this let you investigate theft, it also helps deter it.

Deliver swift customer service

One advantage of shopping online is that there are no lines to wait in. There are also no other shoppers to compete with for attention. As shoppers return to your stores in large numbers, it increases the risk of crowds, lines, and slower service. Making a customer’s in-store sales experience as swift as possible is a challenge.

Smart retail solutions that leverage modern technologies like RFID or IoT can greatly improve your speed of service. These types of tools can remove some of the physical limitations of things like keys or lock hardware, alleviating bottlenecks and improving in-store sales conversions.

Taking Advantage of the New New Normal

The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t completely over. But COVID’s slow fade presents an opportunity to savvy retailers. Are you ready to capitalize on the increase in traffic? Are you ready to win back the customers that are flocking back to stores? Consider this your debut. This is your chance to show the world what they’ve been missing over the last twelve months. Show them why they should keep coming back every time the newest phones drop.

Written by Travis Hooper (VP of Technology and Engineering at MTI) and contributed to by Shannon Litten (Senior Director of Enterprise Solutions)

When the pandemic hit, Mobile Technologies Inc., a global leader in retail merchandising and services, accelerated a plan to digitize field service management and create an agile workforce. Here are five takeaways.

As the Vice President of Technology and Engineering at Mobile Technologies Inc. (MTI), I lead global technology, internet of things (IoT) strategy, engineering, and business capabilities. My team and I focus on ways to use technology to drive automation, improve efficiencies, and create a better overall experience for our customers and employees.

At the beginning of 2020, our company set out to digitize operations with a strong focus on field service management. We started the project in earnest last March, a week before COVID-19 restrictions went into effect and when, suddenly, everything became much more urgent.

Most of our customers are in the retail industry, and were hit hard by pandemic closures and restrictions. They needed to adapt their in-store experience to meet the needs of a remote workforce. We, in turn, needed the ability to reallocate our field service workforce based on our customer’s needs and requirements.

Our primary goal was to create an agile workforce. But how could we get new tools into the hands of our employees as quickly as possible, and therefore help our customers faster?

Here’s what we learned through the process.

“The only way to meet today’s challenges is to create an agile workforce. That means getting the right tools and technology into the hands of our employees as fast as possible.”

Lesson #1: Don’t delay technology investments

At first, we did the typical thing that most companies do: We threw people at problems. We didn’t invest in technology at the rate at which our business was changing. Instead, we used a combination of spreadsheets, homegrown systems, and our enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. As a result, our service team had to navigate many disparate systems to close out a case.

Based on our volume and our customer’s requirements and expectations, we knew we needed to change fast. That meant expanding our use of Salesforce, which our company already implemented for sales and CRM in early 2019, and to start integrating field service management into CRM. Salesforce Field Service enabled the following:

DATA VISIBILITY
Our field service technicians need the right information to service our customers, and dispatchers need an accurate view to assign the right worker to the right job. Now, our field service team works in a single platform with a 360-degree view of the customer. Field service technicians get critical information immediately, and we’re able to proactively communicate with customers to help them with their business decisions.

AUTOMATED SCHEDULING
We wanted to bring automation to the field to optimize scheduling and ensure the right person is assigned to the job. Automation helped us decrease manual scheduling by 79%. Now, about 84% of our resources are assigned with automated scheduling.

CONTACT CENTER TRANSFORMATION
We know better employee experiences lead to better customer experiences. Now that our service agents work off of a single source of truth, we’ve seen queue times (from the time the call enters the queue to the call wrap-up) drop 21%, which is an incredible improvement and dramatically improves the level of service to our customers.

Lesson #2: Connect service partners and third party contractors to field service management

We have a global workforce, but there are countries where we do not employ direct staff. In such countries, we have a network of long-term partners with the same technical skills and values to offer our customers a seamless execution globally. Those partners are all on the Salesforce platform and use the same set of tools which drives consistent execution. They are trained on Salesforce Field Service and receive their work orders and service appointments just like the rest of the team — from the mobile app.

We also use third-party contractors to scale up for various ad hoc projects. For example, if a customer is launching a new product and needs supporting technology ready in 7,000 stores in one day, contractors help fill this short-term capacity need. When this happens, we create contractor licenses in Salesforce Field Service so they have the same visibility into the system and enter the same information as on-staff workers.

Lesson #3: Offer regular training

Right now, we use a homegrown learning management system called MTI Expert. Currently, we’re migrating to Trailhead, Salesforce’s online learning platform. We require all of our technicians go through training, and Trailhead will help us centralize the knowledge.

In addition to digital learning, we host rigorous training for our subject matter experts (SMEs) each quarter to improve their skills and knowledge. We also hold monthly “coach’s corners” in which our SMEs teach the rest of the organization about a particular function, such as how to maximize the use of our scheduling optimizer. Lastly, we rely on our knowledge base to help us consistently use the same technology, processes, and language across the business.

Lesson #4: Get everybody on the same page

One of the biggest hurdles was getting everyone to communicate with the same tools. Some people were using different channels supported by the company. Others were using their own tools outside of company standards to communicate.

We prioritized a plan to ensure that people communicate on the same channels. We were diligent about governance around policies, procedures, and ownership. For the executive team, this meant communicating a consistent message that standardized processes and software were needed for communications. We used change management to get everyone on board. The value and overall benefit to the organization has been huge. Everyone stays up to date, everyone stays on task, and everyone knows how every project is progressing.

Lesson #5: Look at the holistic needs of the company

To become an agile workforce, we consider what the company needs not just for today, but for tomorrow. The executive and product leadership teams meet weekly or monthly depending on the implementation phase to map and understand where the business is going.

Beyond service, we’re also a hardware organization and a software organization. We look at what we can build off of our platform that can help the company as a whole.

It’s about really understanding what you need from the ground up. That’s the greatest way to benefit and maximize our key performance indicators, and ensure our customer’s success.

Now that we have the foundation in place, 2021 is all about optimizing productivity. On the short list: adding asset management and entitlements to drive our service level agreements and migrating more tools into Salesforce Field Service so our field service team has a simple, consolidated view of our world.

Don’t think iPhone thefts are taking place during the current COVID-19 pandemic? In truth, it’s never a bad idea to invest in iPhone security because thefts always occur. There is no off-season for burglars, in fact, a few stores have already been targeted.

In March when 20% of the global population was under the COVID-19 lockdown, a 4am break-in took place in iAstra, an authorized Apple retailer. They lost 54 iPhones in just one night to a group of 5 masked men. Another theft occurred in the same month when a thief backed up a stolen SUV into a Verizon Wireless store taking smartphones that had been on display with them. Weeks later a Cricket Wireless Store was also broken into. The owner of the Cricket store was left in shock when he found his windows shattered and his inventory stolen.

As most of us are already aware, recent riots have impacted other wireless carriers as well. Apple Century City, another Apple retailer, was left with empty display tables after it became a victim of looting. The same can be said for a Sprint store that was looted and had most of its smartphones stolen.

Lockdowns and Curfews Won’t Prevent iPhone Theft
Unfortunately, threats to retail security for high ticket products like iPhones and iPads are not limited to California. iPhone thefts are a growing problem across the United States and Europe. Retailers are losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in devices. These thefts also impact customer service when stores are missing demos or have devices locked away. Gone are the days where robberies were undertaken by opportunistic solo thieves or an unsophisticated teenager’s bad decision. Today, thefts consist of sophisticated rings of four to six individuals operating together to swarm stores to execute aggressive theft in plain sight of the highest value assets.

As retailers work to draw customers into brick and mortar stores by creating live demonstration experiences, Merchandisers and Asset Protection leaders must address retail security issues head on to prevent theft of flagship devices like the iPhone Xs and Samsung Galaxy S10 and Note 10s. Do you have anti-theft devices for your retail store? If your shop hasn’t been hit yet, it’s only a matter of time. If it has been hit, successful thieves will target you again. So how do you protect your devices and keep your employees safe?

Here are six ways to you can reduce iPhone theft
1. Analyze the locations of your highest risk devices
The aesthetics of your store matter, but they shouldn’t come at the expense of your retail security. It’s essential that you balance the elegance and shopping ease of your space with maximum loss prevention strategies. Assess the design of your shop and keep retail security top of mind. Review the location of your flagship consumer electronics devices within your store. Is it easy to navigate from the front door to these high-theft-risk products and then quickly exit? Move the display closer to your cash wrap or employee areas. Are the displays visible completely from the cash wrap? Ensure sight lines to your highest value devices are not blocked.

2. Train and place your staff to drive customer engagement and deter theft at the same time
Properly place and train your sales associates for loss prevention. It is a necessity for optimal retail security. Are your employees strategically placed in the store’s ideal sections to prevent the theft of your highest-ticket items? Are they engaging with each and every person that enters the store, particularly anyone approaching high value Apple and Samsung devices?

Be aware when two employees engage with one customer, or if one leaves the retail floor. Thieves are skilled at using distraction techniques. Train your staff to maintain awareness of their surroundings no matter the time of day or how crowded the store maybe.

3. Utilize low cost tactics to limit iPhone theft
Most locations have CCTV in operation, and many thieves know this or do not care. However, thieves do prefer anonymity – so simple signage “this table is being monitored by CCTV” or “these demo devices have tracking software installed” are simple ways to deter theft.

4. Increase the robustness of your anti-theft devices
As this CBS published security video shows, devices secured by mere power cord and small sensor allow the thieves to steal at a rapid rate, and make you a priority target. Thieves will target your flagship devices, and while protecting all merchandise is important, so is recognizing that the organized crime rings are coming for your $1,000 devices. Guarding against aggressive theft starts with protecting your Apple and Samsung devices.

Choose retail security products like the MTI XD Guardian Universal™, that are built to withstand aggressive theft with tools, kicking, and violent removal attempts. Products that take a least 60 seconds to remove via any means will force crime rings to move on to easier targets.

5. Leverage Internet of Things (IoT) Technology
Most carriers have decreased the # of staff in stores as they begin to reopen. With a limited number of employees, what happens when everyone is helping customers and devices are left un-monitored? Remember thieves wait for opportunities like these to pounce.

Thanks to IoT technology like MTI Connect®, an employee can see what’s happening on the entire sales floor using the MTI Connect® app. With the MTI Connect® app, employees can quickly understand the battery status, position, and security (unarmed or armed) of each device displayed on the sales floor. Employees get instant alerts when theft attempts take place.

Don’t think your employees are comfortable cleaning and sharing security keys? Devices on display can be easily armed and disarmed through the MTI Connect® app when secured with solutions like Freedom Micro® II HS, CX Flex™, Secure Plug®, and MTI Locks™.

6. Lock-up Devices Overnight
The trend shows more new attacks are taking place late at night. New best practice is to lock up your devices in a safe place, difficult for thieves to get to during closures. High-security folding gates protecting the front shop windows and doors is another way to prevent break ins.

Conclusion
Yes, iPhone theft attempts will continue to grow in frequency. Every day is an opportunity for thieves to steal. Don’t risk your iPhones and bottom line by not investing in appropriate merchandising security solutions.

For more on retail security products and anti-theft devices for retail stores to stop iPhone theft, check out our high security solutions, Secure Plug®, and MTI Locks™ options available at mtigs.com.

Merchandising Security matters – not just for your bottom line, but for the safety of your customers. Protecting your store is just as important to your business as making sales.

Wireless Carrier Customers

As restrictions are lifted and Wireless Carriers begin to reopen stores, they will face three new customer satisfaction barriers that could impact the in-store customer experience. With the threat of a resurgence in COVID-19 cases we are seeing a shift in consumer’s perspectives around the in-store shopping experience. Shekel recently sponsored a survey to get feedback on how social distancing might change shopping behavior. With a mixed sample size of 18-60 year-old participants, 87% reported they still prefer shopping inside brick and motor stores over online stores. Of course, it is important to mention that consumers are only willing to shop at physical locations if retailers follow new more stringent guidelines designed to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The online experience is convenient, but it isn’t personal. No matter how well websites can present products and services, they are limited and cannot be as intimate as the actual product presented in person. Gary Ambrosino, CEO of TimeTrades, a leader in appointment-driven personalization, notes, “The bottom line is customers value the personal experience of the physical store.”

Our research has highlighted three customer satisfaction barriers that may prevent stores from delivering the in-store experiences shoppers crave and why technology is the answer.

Barrier #1: More Maintenance Work for a Smaller In-Store Team

To deliver the best shopper experience, it is important that products are ready for customer interactions: plugged in, charging, and displaying compelling demo content. Due to physical distancing practices required to reopen in most states, many stores have had to sacrifice display space to provide ample room and reduce the number of staff present. Some carriers like T-Mobile have transitioned 2,200 retail employees to work from home. A smaller retail staff will struggle to keep up with the demand from customers. It takes effort and time to ensure all demo devices are properly set up, secured, and at good battery health. If there is an increase in customers, this activity can be hectic for a smaller team. Employees must routinely check up on the devices and make sure they are ready for personal interactions, at the same time they aide each customer with questions or demo requests.

Barrier #2: Longer Waiting Times for Customers

Keeping the store customer-ready takes more time than customers might imagine. Resolving device issues often requires the help of a third-party company (3PL). Since most 3PLs have a reduced staff size as well it will take more time than usual to receive their help. Not to mention in the case of a store reaching its new limited capacity, third-party visitors must wait until someone leaves the building before they can enter. Customers waiting for devices to be fixed can both ruin the personal experience as well as increase wait times. In a TimeTrade Retail Survey, 70% of senior retailer executives reported the average customer will wait only 5 minutes or less before abandoning the store. Yes, each second counts!

Barrier #3: Limited Sanitation Equipment

It is very important to follow the same sanitation procedures for employees as for customers. Shared equipment like security keys will need to be routinely cleaned after each use. Same for the devices presented after each demo. Since many wireless carriers have only one or two keys to arm or disarm products they must share keys amongst multiple employees which in today’s pandemic is a petri dish for germs. Remember customers may decide whether to return based on how the safe sanitation guidelines are being maintained. As you may have noticed getting disinfectant wipes and sprays can be difficult. In a recent Healthline article, Cliff Welborn, PhD, a professor of supply chain management, has reported that the sales of spay disinfectants were up 520% and multipurpose cleaners were almost up 250%. According to Welborn, “manufactures are having a difficult time keeping up with the rise in demand.” Each wipe and spray counts. It is only a matter of time before they run out again.

Why Technology is the Answer:

The pandemic is accelerating the adoption of powerful Internet of Things (IoT) systems to overcome these customer satisfaction barriers. Many retailers are deploying technology solutions such as people counting and virtual queue management to help ensure appropriate social distancing in stores and strong customer service. Solutions like MTI Connect® are transforming the retail experience for wireless carriers by empowering employees with insights and enhanced control of in-store systems from the sales-floor.

MTI Connect® users are given a visual representation of the entire sales floor through a planogram. This allows employees to oversee the battery status, position, and security (unarmed or armed) of each device displayed on the sales floor. These insights and others can be gathered real-time by employees in store. They can diagnose issues using the MTI Connect® app and pass the data to third-party technicians decreasing the wait time for devices to get fixed. With reduced staff and more responsibilities for each employee this technology is a powerful tool to help reduce customer satisfaction barriers.

MTI Connect® may not be able to magically create more sanitized products, but it can be used to help conserve what is already available. Devices can be armed and disarmed through the MTI Connect® app when secured with solutions like Freedom Micro® II HS, CX Flex™, Secure Plug® and MTI Locks™, so employees do not have to share keys that would need to be disinfected after each use. Each employee can also be issued a low cost Versa Key™ which uses encrypted RFID Technology for touchless arming and disarming of devices.

Leveraging in-store technology will help simplify operations for the limited number of employees, give them more time to personalize customer experience, and reduce the amount of disinfecting needed with touchless arming and disarming.

For more information please contact: [email protected]

About MTI
MTI is a leader in global retail security, with innovative smart retail store software solutions and a global field service provider trusted by many of the world’s most successful consumer electronics retailers and brands. MTI helps clients protect high value products with innovative security solutions augmented by an open IoT platform that enables retailers to close the access control and visibility gaps between management, front line teams, in-store technology and the customer experience. In addition, MTI’s unique global service and contact center reaches over 90 countries globally providing installation, repair and training and brand advocacy solutions to retailers and brands.

It is clear COVID19 will have a significant and lasting impact on retail. Global lockdowns and expected recessions have accelerated existing consumer trends towards e-commerce and disposable income spending on experiences over things.

Wireless Carriers will be no exception. Even before the pandemic competition between the existing industry stalwarts was fierce, with added pressure from new players like Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO’s), e-retailers and big tech. Brands with brick and mortar stores have an important advantage in being able to provide customers with the highest level of personalized service. However, thriving in the future requires evolving in three key areas.

1. Create amazing in-store customer experiences
The most important piece of technology for most consumers is their smartphone and the lifestyle it enables. Whether it be keeping in touch with family and friends, staying on top of work, or being entertained by the latest episode of Tiger King on Netflix…there is no denying the reliance on our devices and connectivity. Smartphone usage is up 70% worldwide since the coronavirus outbreak according to a Statista online survey.

According to Deloitte, shoppers want good deals, product availability, easy check-out, personalized experiences, online support and alignment with the brand’s values. Today’s consumers are inspired by clean, open plan stores with specially designed merchandising layouts. Areas where they can demo the latest devices (individually or as part of an interdependent ecosystem) to see firsthand the benefits of technology. This “retail choreography” taps into the emotion of the customer who then wants to share in the experience which ultimately builds a desire to purchase. It is likely, Wireless Carriers that thrive will focus less on the sheer number of stores and more on ensuring customers have access to stores in the most strategic locations and delivering buying experiences that connect with consumers.

2. Bring the advantages of digital customer service into physical retail to delight customers
Thanks to technology companies like Amazon and Uber, today’s consumers expect ever more personalized service and instant gratification. How do brick and mortar companies combat the instant gratification of the online shopping experience? Digital queue management technology lets shoppers hold their place in line electronically. When they enter a store they can log into the digital queue at a kiosk, take a virtual number, then spend time shopping in the store while they wait for their turn in line. Brick and Mortar retailers who offer live side-by-side product demos can enhance customer confidence and provide an opportunity for sales associates to interact with customers and guiding them through the demo towards a final sale. Adding mobile point-of-sale into the demo will improve sales close-rates and make check-out easy and seamless.

3. Attract and empower the best talent
Arguably the #1 advantage of retailers with physical stores is the staff. Shoppers have access to more information now than ever before and they expect knowledgeable and helpful in-store service. How retailers deliver on the promise of expert staff will affect the shopper’s desire to shop their store. Attracting, hiring and retaining talent is key to success. According to Harver a successful recruitment strategy is key, “having a strong employee brand can help you attract and retain your best employees. When applicants understand the kind of employees you work with, are able to connect with your company values and be engaged at their work, they’ll stick around longer.” Retailers who empower their in-store teams and provide them with best in class technology and training can expect a strong return on the investment. It is important to align incentives with tried and tested performance metrics like conversion rate, churn rate as well as newer metrics like Net Promoter Scores (NPS) and customer satisfaction.

The coming months will no doubt bring ongoing uncertainty and continued evolution for retail. There is no doubt though that the brands who will thrive will be those that lean into the challenge and transform and exceed their customers’ expectations. Take a tip from Apple, figure out how to create connections and experiences for the people who depend on you in your company and your community. Do that, and you’ll look like a Genius too.

About MTI
MTI is a leader in global retail security, with innovative smart retail store software solutions and a global field service provider trusted by many of the world’s most successful consumer electronics retailers and brands. MTI helps clients protect high value products with innovative security solutions augmented by a open IoT platform that enables retailers to close the access control and visibility gaps between management, front line teams, in-store technology and the customer experience. In addition, MTI’s unique global service and contact center reaches over 90 countries globally providing installation, repair and training and brand advocacy solutions to retailers and brands.

5 Consumer Electronics Retail Killer Market Launch Tips

How will you earn more than your share of sales when retail consumer electronics stores reopen? And how would you beat a longtime entrenched competitor in consumer electronics?

Gaining market share takes more than a better product; it takes smart, agile execution and the right collaborative partner. Here is a not-so-hypothetical example how one semiconductor manufacturer moved from an industry me-too to the go-to winner with a killer retail consumer electronics launch and a little help from a crack retail services team.

MTI Training and Brand Advocacy1. Sell Experience (vs. “Speeds & Feeds”)

Customers come into consumer electronics retailers because they want expert advice to meet their specific needs. When sales associates know what questions to ask about what they are trying to accomplish, they feel heard. They purchase a product that better fits their needs.

Smart car shoppers know “YMMV” – “your mileage may vary” means manufacturer’s miles per gallon claim is just one data point to consider when buying a car.  A luxury car driver cares more about appearance and creature comforts. An outdoor lover cares more about ruggedness.

Consumer electronics are harder to “test drive,” than cars, which is why so many retail sales associates tend to over-rely on “speeds-and-feeds.” Training sales associates on who specifically your product is designed for and what you’ve done to make it perfect for them is far more effective. Gamers want laptops that eliminate stuttering while gaming, and multimedia designers need 3D rendering powered by multiple threads.

 

2. Double-check Distribution & Demos

It takes time to change market perceptions and sales associates need to be sold, too. If there’s a past perception your products are slow, or were largely unknown, don’t assume your initial training will convince sales associates that’s no longer true. Don’t forget the impact of a long shut down on the sales associate’s ability to recall your specific selling points. You’ll want to check and correct any misperceptions with additional proof-based training.

Timing for stores reopening is dependent on state and local regulations and thus will be erratic. Timing is going to be critical for success. If your product demo isn’t on time, powered up, working, or your stock doesn’t make it to the shelf all your training and marketing efforts could be wasted. A logistics nightmare unless you have the right partner. You’ll want a partner who can handle both the logistics and scheduling as well as product training to alleviate disasters before it’s too late.

3. Troubleshooting: Listen & Respond

While demos and distribution monitoring require a critical eye, monitoring sales associate’s ability to seal the deal requires extra ears. Are there barriers to the sale? Whether they’re based on fact or fiction, they’re real sales-killers when they’re ignored.

 

4. Exploit a Strong Niche

The most vocal fans often come from niches. If your product meets a special need especially well, it’s far easier to get the word out to a targeted audience than to try to please everyone. In this era of interconnection, opportunities abound by choosing the right influencers, events and social media that make your product sing.

 

5. Rollout – Keep the Best, Lose the Rest.  Repeat.

“Move fast. Speed is one of your main advantages over large competitors,” emphasizes tech wunderkind Sam Altman. Agility and ultimately success comes with great partners. Start simple. Stay connected, Learn together. Grow.

 

Test Drive A New Kind of Retail Partner

Do you want to get your fair share in consumer electronics retail?

Contact MTI’s Global Services Team to get the real scoop behind this not-so-hypothetical retail consumer electronics example and how they can make your next retail launch your best ever.

The pandemic is accelerating the adoption of newer, safer and more efficient technologies to change how patients interact in hospital lobbies, registration desks and waiting rooms. The days of endless paperwork and clipboards is being replaced by self-service interactive kiosks, mobile tablets, e signature and touchless payment technologies. Benefits include better overall customer experience, improved efficiency, and lower costs.

tablet-based check inTablet-based kiosks enable hospitals to move devices wherever needed, whether at the traditional check-in desk, pre-stage areas, or pop-up temporary hospital tents and drive-thru screening sites. The mobility of tablet-based kiosks systems gives the hospitals tremendous flexibility to dynamically reconfigure quickly as needs change with the added benefit of having a solution that can be disinfected between patients.

Tablet-based systems contribute to shorter wait-times for patient check-in. Hospitals and clinics are tracking a patient’s wait-time as part of their overall satisfaction score. Long wait-times dramatically impact customer satisfaction. A recent survey of 5,003 patients analyzed the patient experience. 97% of these patients reported feeling frustrated by increased wait times. 40% of respondents were willing to ultimately change providers to shorten wait times.

Three ways tablet-based solutions can shorten wait times, improve patient satisfaction and enable social distancing.

  1. Paperless Check In

Stacks of paper documents. Clipboards and endless forms to fill out. Patients come in not feeling well and want to be attended to quickly. This ruins their experience from the outset. In a Becker’s Hospital Review news article, Chris Joyce, Director of Healthcare Solutions with Bottomline Technologies, reports, “When patients are feeling ill or are simply ready to be seen, they want the quickest, most efficient way to input information necessary for their visit.” “Paper registration forms can be frustrating for hospital staff, too. Making sure they are filled out completely, scanning them, manually entering the data into the EMR ... dealing with these types of forms is a time and labor-intensive process that is prone to error and takes valuable time away from patients. So why are we still using paper forms, especially when there's a better way?” These forms feel very repetitive, asking the same questions from previous visits. Modern hospitals are eliminating this frustrating process with electronic, self-service tablet-based kiosk solutions.

  1. Faster Insurance Verification

Insurance ID, coverage and required co-pay details comes next. Manual scanning and entry of insurance cards is time consuming, prone to error and tedious. A recent Xtelligent Healthcare Media news article reported the average wait time is 18 minutes, with some wait times averaging as much as 29 minutes.  Implementing patient check in kiosks and automated scanning technologies, insurance ID data entry and validation can be faster and far more efficient.

 

  1. Electronic Record Keeping

It is still very common to see hospitals, clinics and doctor’s offices with large archives full of paper-based medical records. Hundreds, if not thousands of file folders to be managed, organized, and tracked. A patient checking in can experience check-in delays simply due to searching for misfiled paper-based records. Chris Joyce agrees and claims, “Scanning, barcoding and data entry consume a lot of your time when using paper forms.”  There is a risk of losing important records when transferring between patient and caregiver. Records can be easily misplaced, lost or destroyed due to acts of nature like fire or floods.

Why Tablet-Based Solutions Are the Answer

Healthcare administrators are seeking tablet-based solutions because they streamline workflow, eliminate the use of paper, decrease check-in time and support social distancing. As data entry is integrated and e-records are automatically updated, the patient simply completes self-check in and verifies auto-populated fields.

Tablet-based applications can be integrated into billing systems by automatically recognizing a patient’s credit card information tied to their account. A patient can verify auto-populated information, make updates and with an e-signature, ensure compliance and completion of healthcare regulations.

A JAMA study recently examined the use of tablet-based solutions to evaluate if they improved efficiencies for medical staff. Out of 115 medical staff participating in the study, 78% reported the use of tablets helped create a more efficient workspace. The study found that tablets provided time savings of about an hour a day. 68% of staff felt patient delays were averted using tablets.

What Patients say about using technology

tablet-based registration

This survey of 2,053 patients experience using new medical technologies such as tablet solutions cited the following benefits:

Tablet-based solutions enable a far more modern, efficient and smoother check-in process, allow for social distancing, support disinfection protocols and streamline the workspace in both hospitals and clinics.

MTI can help you with easy-to-deploy tablet-based kiosks. Ask about our special discounted pricing for the Enterprise Tablet Lineup supporting Aava Mobile, Microsoft Surface, Zebra or Apple tablets for healthcare applications like patient registration. Please contact us at [email protected] to learn how our offerings can take patient experience to a new level.

The Unsung Heroes of MTI

SoMTI production team building medical carts during COVID-19 pandemicme unsung heroes of the pandemic quietly assemble healthcare carts. Others pack and ship routers destined for pharmacies across the country. Still more show up to LiteIT by an MTI Field Service Technicianupgrade routers to add bandwidth to overtaxed pharmacies and install healthcare carts in hospitals. We want to thank our unsung heroes for all they have accomplished to deliver essential services and send gratitude for the work still ahead.

While more than 90% of the MTI team has been working from home for the past month, the production, shipping and Global Services team members have ramped up production, packing, shipping, installation services including installation of medical carts to help keep up with the increased demand. “Orders for medical carts for hospitals throughout the United States are up 200% compared to the same period last year with no slowdown in sight,” says Jack Frost, Director of Mobility Sales and Partnerships. We are working closely with our vendors and customers to make sure our team can deliver these critical products and services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We’ve instituted an Opt-In process for Global Services Technicians. They can decide whether they are willing and able to complete work assignments. There are no repercussions for not accepting projects. Before we schedule installation and other on-site work for our essential service-based customers throughout the country we send notices to the technicians of the available work. Each employee can then opt-in to let us know they are available and interested in the assignment. We’re ramping up for the current essential projects and coordinating plans for when the level 1, 2 and 3 openings happen. Thank you to the Global Services Technicians for your dedication to the health and safety of our customers and the public and your willingness to help deliver the products and services needed during this situation.

Another team of employees who deserve our thanks for their support of our essential team members is our contact center technicians. They have moved to 100% work from home. No small feat for our 365/24/7 contact centers which are already located on two continents.  They’re monitoring the changing regulations and status of each country, city and customer. They are also coordinating with the pharmacies, hospitals and stores to ensure safety measures are in place for their employees and ours. They are in constant communication with the Global Services Technicians and are the glue that holds everything together operationally. Thanks to each and everyone of you for adapting to the changing situation and continuing to drive excellence for our team.

Delivering essential products and services is important, but not more important than our employee’s health, safety and mental well-being. That’s why we have added multiple health and safety measures including:

MTI Technician arriving for essential work These health and safety procedures and opt-in process are in place to help make sure we are helping #flattenthecurve and keep our employees safe.

We know our team plays a supporting role delivering essential services for those on the front lines. The doctors, nurses, pharmacists, grocery clerks, policemen, firemen, truck drivers, sanitation teams, gas station attendants, and other essential workers are the real heroes. We send our gratitude to the heroes on the front lines for all you are doing to keep people safe and healthy around the world. To our unsung MTI heroes we thank you for your efforts.

Does your team need help from our Global Services team during or after the quarantine? We’re here to help at [email protected]. For some tips read our article, 4 Step Bounce Back Plan for Brands after COVID-19.

 

How Tablets Can Provide a Better In-Room Patient Experience

The In-Room patient experience is being transformed by mobile in-room technologies. Bedside technology allows for a multitude of services within the patients reach, enhancing patient satisfaction through the means of comfort, entertainment, and education.

    1. Prevents Stress & Isolation (Comfort)
      Patients with access to a bedside device allows for them to stay connected with loved ones through a wide array of social media platforms, email, or video chat. Some family members can’t be with their loved ones because of limited visitor access. Whether if it’s to help hospitals run more smoothly, preventing serious infections from spreading, or due to limited time slots for visits, a patient may not be able to get all the visitors they want. This isolation can stress patients and their family members as they continue their stay. “Being in the hospital can be stressful, not only for the patient, but for the patient’s family members as well,” says Laura Magstadt, vice president of nursing at Three Rivers Medical Center on a recent Mail Tribune blog post. Laura continues “Providing the patient with a tablet means they can stay connected and reassure their family that they’re doing well.”In-room technology and mobile tablets can help improve the patient experience
    2. Provides Entertainment to the patient (Entertainment)
      With nothing to do, staying at the hospital can get dull for patients. We currently live in an era where most of our entertainment comes from devices like tablets. Tablets can provide entertainment by enabling a patient to catch-up on their favorite shows via Netflix, shop online, or simply surf the web. Who doesn’t need to laugh a little at the latest quarantine meme, or cat video? One of my friends is posting her “quarantine hairdo” of the day. Here’s my current favorite. Maybe we can inspire some nurses to spice up their hairdos to add to the smiles? Laughter can lower your stress level and distract you from the stress of a hospital stay.
    3. Educational resource (Education)
      Mobile technology at the bedside allows caregivers to easily inform their patients using Electronic Health Records (EHR). Caregivers can easily educate patients on new scan results/findings, videos on procedures, information on medications prescribed, review treatment plans, and more. “Tablets provide easy access to educational tools and resources as patients transition from diagnosis to treatment through recovery, explains Chuck Westbrook, American Cancer Society’s Senior Vice President for cancer control programs and services in a mHealthIntelligence blog post. Patients having access to these tools heightens the patient experience knowing their care and comfort is the main priority.

In-Room Technology Improves Patient Satisfaction

A recent study measured patient satisfaction on a group of 88 patients who were given access to technologies like bedside tablets at St. Rita's Medical Center. 74% of patients agreed that their communication improved with their nurse and over 89% reported a better understanding of their medications. Some patients enjoyed the multi-purpose capabilities that can be accessed on a tablet

such as browsing the internet, playing games, & watching movies. Other capabilities patients were satisfied with include having access to information on their medications, laboratory results, health information, & diagnosis. Overall, patient experiences were positive in this study supporting the use for bedside tablets in the medical setting.

In all, bedside tablets and in-room technology are an effective tool to have for patients. Tablets help bridge a connection between patients & their families, provide entertainment, and they can be used as an educational resource for patients and doctors.

MTI can assist in supporting your In-Room technology with Bedside tablet-based deployments of our easy to install mobile kiosk solutions. Read how Telehealth solutions keep patients and healthcare workers safe and how to disinfect MTI products. Ask about our special Healthcare specific discounted pricing for the MTI Enterprise Tablet Lineup for and RapidDoc mobile kiosks supporting Aava Mobile, Microsoft Surface, Zebra or Apple tablets. Please contact us at [email protected] to learn how our offerings can take the patient experience to a new level.

Are you ready to think about your bounce back plan yet? During the COVID-19 pandemic we are experiencing things that were unimaginable only a month ago. More like one of the sci-fi novels I love to read than reality. Most of the stores in our community are closed. Essential businesses limiting the number of customers allowed inside or are delivering products to customers curbside. I need to stop for a moment to take that in. Businesses shut down completely. Curbside pickup for food, electronics, prescriptions and other essentials. A shortage of toilet paper, okay, I admit, this one still has me scratching my head. We’re dealing with all these changes to our daily lives and at the same time modifying workforce to one where more than 95% of the team is working from home.

Essential workers are wearing protective gear and making sure they aren’t standing too close to their coworkers.  Production has moved to support the essential industries. For us that means the Healthcare, Communications and Technology Industries. Supply chain interruptions have been mitigated as much as possible.

Now that we’ve adapted as much as we can to keep everyone safe and produce what is needed, we need to turn our attention to the future. What will we do when social distancing is relaxed, stores reopen, and customers start shopping in person again? How quickly can we be ready to serve customers?

Electronics Retailer with empty tablesIf you haven’t noticed, the current state of the largest electronics store doesn’t look like an electronics store anymore. They’ve turned the inside of the store into a warehouse staging area to quickly serve customers curbside. Gone are the clean aisles and showcase displays for phones, laptops, tablets, virtual reality, home electronics. Other stores have removed display phones and other products from their fixtures. When it’s time to turn the lights back on and open the doors to customers again, how fast will your team be ready? We know the retailers staff will be 100% focused on returning the store to a Grand Reopening “customer-ready” status, but who will be focused on your products and displays? Will the sales staff remember what your products are, how to sell them, etc.? How much more live sales time will you miss this year?

So how do you get your products Grand Reopening ready? How fast can you get there? Our Global Services team members are already working with brands and retailers to develop Bounce Back Strategies for when the doors open at Best Buy and other retailers around the world again. We’ve developed the following 4 step bounce back plan:

4 Step Bounce Back Plan for Brands

  1. Evaluate. What is the current state of your Products on Display?

    • Which products do you have on display?
    • Where are they located?
    • How much in-store stock is available?
    • Is there stagnant, near end-of-life that needs to be moved?
  1. Identify. Where do you need to focus to deliver results for the rest of the year?

    • Identify where product displays aren’t fully functional.
    • Product focus. Which products are right for your target audience?
    • Product or channel mix. Do you need to adjust the products in different channels?
    • Consider timing and options for the holidays.
      Although they’re not for another month, we know in terms of sales strategies and in sales we have already missed Mother’s Day and Graduation. Most likely we will miss Father’s Day as well. Have you decided whether you will focus on Back-to-school? And what will Back-to-School look like this year? Or, will you focus on Black Friday and the Christmas Shopping Season?
    • Identify which stores and sales teams will need training or re-training on your product features and benefits.
    • What key metrics should you measure to gauge the success of your Bounce Back Strategy?
      • How long will it take to reset 100% stores?
      • First visit resolution?
  1. Create. How do we create a bounce back plan for a Grand Reopening in the Channel?

    • Create an action plan for holiday staging.
    • Create a training & brand advocacy plan.
    • Create a break-fix list.
    • Create a distribution and execution plan for the product to get swapped out or fixed.
    • Don’t forget the timeline and resources needed to complete the plan.
  1. Execute. Now that you know the scope of the project, the timeline and the resources the next step is to review the key performance indicators (KPI) of a successful bounce back plan.

    • 100% completion.
    • Quick turn-around.
    • Do it right the first time.

If you don’t have the resources to execute the plan yourself, you’ll want to find a partner who has the skills to deliver. Tips to help you select a service provider who has more than revenue on their agenda. You’ll want a partner who has:

Now that you have the steps – it’s time to get started. Need help creating or proofing your Bounce Back Plan? The MTI Global Services Team is here to help. Experts in coordinating huge roll outs our team has plans in place already for visits to each Best Buy, Target, AT&T stores and CVS locations along with other retailers in the US and around the globe. We can help your team prepare and deliver a successful Bounce Back Plan and help you execute. Contact us at [email protected]

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