In today’s ultra-competitive and digitally powered world, standing out from the pack and moving beyond expectations to deliver a unique customer experience may seem like a big ask.

But just recently, there’s been a quiet revolution taking place across a range of industry sectors – including healthcare, recreation, education and retail.

Say hello to mobile digital ‘wayfinding’ – a kind of digital concierge service that gives customers or service users the option of using their phone to navigate your location in a stress-free way.

Great expectations

Imagine you’re late for an appointment. Pulling into a multi-storey car park, you use your phone to connect to the car park’s public WiFi and get directions to the most convenient available parking space. Once parked, you use your phone to navigate to the closest exit or pay station. What’s the likelihood that you’ll use that car park again in the future? Pretty high, I’d say.

These days, first impressions and powerful brand connections count for a lot. Which is why organisations are embracing the latest WiFi technologies to help guide people through unfamiliar environments. Providing directional information, answers to questions or personalised content based on their known preferences or previous behaviours.

In other words, they’re using technology to transform the customer experience – solving their problems, anticipating wants and needs, directing them to points of interest – offering options along the way to make life more convenient and less stressful.

Digital wayfinding – the future is here

Thanks to integration with low cost beacon technology, today’s next-generation digital wayfinding solutions can link with a consumer’s mobile phone to put ‘turn-by-turn’ directional information directly onto the handset.

But we’re also seeing the evolution of something that’s far more powerful and personalised. Powered by the existing WiFi infrastructure, these beacons can deliver location awareness based on proximity to the device. Which means if you know where someone is – and what they are near – you can create a remarkable customer experience that’s tailored to an individual’s intent or current location. We like to call it ‘experiential wayfinding’.

It’s an approach that’s being used by universities to help students navigate their way around campus while tapping into their own personalised data – like providing students with their individualised class timetable and directions to where they need to be and at what time. On arrival at a lecture room, their attendance is instantly registered, they can view associated study notes, and more.

Similarly, airports are turning to WiFi interactive solutions to help travellers route find their way through terminals to grab connecting flights or find the nearest lounge or check in desks. And some airlines are using experiential wayfinding to give premier class passengers a truly impressive experience that includes instantly opening their electronic boarding pass as they pass through a security checkpoint.

Hospitals too are deploying wayfinding to help patients and visitors find the nearest coffee shop or locate a specific ward or service. But that’s not all. Some are also utilising beacon technology to update hospital systems the moment an outpatient arrives onsite, transmitting prompts and messages directly to their mobile device. All of which is helping to reduce the number of hospital appointments missed each year.

Capture marketing data along the way

Whether you want to use mobile wayfinding to direct customers to specific merchandise, to minimise interruptions or frustrations for visitors, encourage them to return again and again, stay longer – and even to share on social media – beaconing technology also delivers valuable data on what customers do and don’t want and their typical behaviours when visiting your business locations.

This helps turn your WiFi into a powerful marketing tool that, alongside delivering presence detection, gives you granular insights on a visitor’s dwell times, their preferred locations, frequency of visits, redemption of digital vouchers. Using this data can help you improve how you target services and give you a greater understanding of how individual customers move across all your touchpoints – onsite, mobile, website.