Thursday, November 02, 2006

Self-service, for better or for worse

As Craig at Self-Service Kiosk Information noted, the WSJ did an article on self-service technologies, and their impact (positive and negative) on consumers. It notes that:
Over the past few years, companies have plowed billions of dollars into automated customer-service systems, from call centers to Web sites to self-checkout lines in stores and hotels. When they work properly, they can simplify a host of chores. But tiny problems can sometimes throw these systems for a loop -- leaving customers feeling cut off and frustrated.

The solution, say customer-service experts, is the human touch. Too often, companies abandon service workers altogether, or dramatically reduce their role, when installing automated systems. Companies must ensure that employees monitor and regularly update the technology to weed out glitches, keep the systems running smoothly and gauge customer satisfaction, the experts warn. Otherwise, frustrated customers may take their business elsewhere.
Most of the examples cited were telephone services that used touch-tone or voice recognition input. However, the article also reserves a section for self-service checkout and other related technologies.

Retailers and others should consider self-service tools in addition to, and not instead of, their traditional methods for satisfying the customer. What we've seen time and time again are failed projects and customer complaints over self-service systems that were installed to lower costs without any regard for customer use. The most successful kiosk projects (in my mind, at least), always seek to improve the customer experience by offering some additional service or some new way of taking advantage of an existing service.

Related articles include:
Related to self-service? Well, that's pretty much this whole blog :) Take a look at any of the articles in the past six months:
Tags: self-service, self-checkout, instant credit kiosks, kiosks, retail media, retail marketing, advertising

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