Soon enough, the nearest Walmart in your locality may have a technology that would detect the emotion on your face – happy or otherwise – while shopping.
According to a patent filing, the retail giant is working on a facial recognition tech which would use video cameras to identify dissatisfied shoppers in checkout lines and prompt its executives to alleviate the customers' problems before actually giving them the chance to complain.
As soon as the system detects an unhappy or frustrated shopper, it will alert Walmart executives so that they can attend to the customer in person and alleviate whatever concern he or she may have.
Walmart is stressing on improving its customer service and interaction level in hopes of retaining its customers in the long run.
"It is easier to retain existing customers than acquire new ones through advertising," the patent for the technology read. "Often, if customer service is inadequate, this fact will not appear in data available to management until many customers have been lost. With so much competition, a customer will often simply go elsewhere rather than take the time to make a complaint."
Detecting customers' facial expression isn't the only thing Walmart may target with its advanced facial recognition technology. The retail giant may also leverage the technology to analyse changes in customers' shopping habits over time due to dissatisfaction or customer service issues.
As Business Insider notes, "to analyse purchasing behaviour, the system links customers' facial expressions or 'biometric data' as it is called in the patent filing to their transaction data — meaning how much they are spending and what they are buying".
"Significant drops or complete absence of customers spending ... may be identified," according to the patent filing.
The idea of detecting shoppers' expressions to improve customer service looks promising but considering its previous experience with facial recognition tech, Walmart would want to take some additional steps for safe-keeping customers' data. In 2015, the company tested its facial recognition program in several stores to try and identify suspected or known shoplifters as they entered the stores.
However, the program was eventually shunned owing to its ineffectiveness and several privacy concerns raised by Walmart customers.