Square updated its “pay by saying your name” app Card Case, simply renaming it Pay With Square. What’s more interesting is the photo feature: If a customer turns on the auto-open tab, which shows location, merchants will be able to see how close the customer is before they even step into the store. Pay With Square is also expanding its geofencing capabilities, making it available for Android in addition to the iPhone.
Walk into the store, and your photo will pop up. The merchant can easily identify you. Walk up to the cashier, place your order, and just put it on your Square account. You don’t even have to touch your phone. This is the “magic” of Square. But is it going to work against us in the long-term?
The “magic” of Square and mobile payments rests on the ability to make the consumer feel like they’re not even spending money. What Square has not removed with this latest update, however, is the final consumer-business interaction: an opportunity for a consumer to interact with the cashier.
Pay With Square makes it easy to learn everything about the business you are going to before even stepping inside the door. Peruse the business’s offerings under the Items tab, send a message to someone asking if they’d like to join you, tweet the business out to friends, see what people on Twitter are saying about the business, mail a link about the business to someone, or add it to a list of favorite places. Square also records your visits to the store. If you’d rather just go old-fashioned, go to “More Info” and hit the call button. And this is all without saying a word to the cashier, who may be the only point of interaction in this entire ordeal.
In Anat Rafaeli’s paper When Cashiers Meet Customers: An Analysis of the Role of Supermarket Cashiers, he investigates the influence of customers over cashiers. What he discovered was, moreso than management, customers had “immediate influence over cashiers at the time of job performance.”
Furthermore, the analysis discovered that both cashier and customer had a different view on who had an implicit right to control the service encounters. Cashiers did what they could to maintain control. The customer may be paying for the merchandise, but it’s important to note that the cashier does not get a cut of whatever is sold. The customer is not directly paying the cashier’s salary. Pay With Square aims to give that sense of “control” back to the customer.
Sometimes interactions with cashiers are indeed quite difficult. It’s more likely that one rude or absent-minded employee will bother a customer than slow service or honest mistakes.
“A single employee may tint a customer’s image of a service enterprise,” writes Rafaelli. “Indeed, research has documented that service employees can be important to promoting organizational goals.”
Pay With Square seeks to eliminate the possibly damaging interaction between customer and cashier – that very interaction which, ironically, can make or break whether or not the person returns. But in a world of increasingly less person-to-person interactions and more Internet-mediated posts and status updates, the opportunity to eliminate what might be a cherished, ritual-like interaction of cashier and consumer could not only be detrimental to businesses’ image, it signifies the loss of that microcosm of an interaction that could actually make someone’s day.
Obviously, the Square marketing video makes Pay With Square feel attractive, pushing the idea that it might actually become a full-fledged reality outside of San Francisco and New York. Even if this does happen, let’s hope that the art of common courtesy won’t be lost.
Image via Shutterstock.