WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — A northern Indiana software company has won a $750,000 grant to refine software intended to help high-end retail stores improve customer service.

The National Science Foundation recently awarded Perceive Inc. of West Lafayette the two-year grant.

Perceive CEO Kyle McNulty says the federal grant will enable the company to further develop an automated coach to help improve retail customer service. The software will provide feedback to store employees about how they interact with shoppers.

McNulty says customer experience is particularly important these days as brick-and-mortar stores compete increasingly against online retailers.

He says physical stores have a customer service advantage over online stores, while specialty stores have the advantage in that area over big-box stores.