Wednesday, December 12, 2007

NCR study: Customers want more self-service kiosks

A study put together by BuzzBack Market Research for NCR has shown that out of 633 U.S. & Canadian residents surveyed, a good portion would like to see more self-service kiosks in some way, shape or form. The major take-away stat of the study is that 77% of those polled said, according to a summary on, that "they are more likely to do business with organizations that offer self-service", in addition "92 percent value combining mobile devices - like mobile phones or PDAs - with the Internet and self-service kiosks or ATMs to improve their overall service experience."

Some common uses that those questioned said they would like to see available through self-service kiosks were making photocopies, renewing drivers licenses and purchasing airline tickets. Also, "an overwhelming majority (85 percent to 94 percent) of respondents indicated they would prefer to use self-service to print items such as maps, tickets, schedules, coupons and other items while banking, shopping, travelling, dining or visiting a medical clinic."

These are good numbers to say the least, but as usual the case with these kind of studies (there seems to be a new one each week) is that they should be taken with a grain of salt. The base of 633 respondents is big, but perhaps not as all-encompassing as it could be, especially considering it's spread out between the U.S. and Canada. Also, they limited the study to people ages 18 & up. Maybe it would have been better to lower that to 16, which is an age where most teens start to get more disposable income. In fact, I'd really like know what portion of the 633 polled represent a younger crowd (say, maybe 28 & under). Its these younger "Gen Y" consumers that are going to shape the way organizations do business in the future. Some older shoppers may use this new self-service technology only when it becomes more prevalent or after they've been spurred on by younger audiences who have convinced them it's much easier and that it's worth breaking traditional shopping habits for (or maybe they'll notice for themselves how much quicker the young guys get in, out and on with their lives rather than waiting on lines or looking for a store employee that knows what he's doing).

If the 633 respondents were spread out evenly among age groups then the survey shows that older consumers are adapting quickly to new self-service technology. But if it wasn't spread out evenly, then my guess is that it unfairly skews towards trends that might be common for younger shoppers, but maybe not so much yet for older ones. Considering that the study focused on such things as booking flights and making copies (which likely skew to older crowds than general retail would) then it could be premature for other, dissimilar businesses to take these findings and run with them.

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