January 11, 2022

5 Ways Self-Service Technology Can Improve Customer Satisfaction

5 Ways Self-Service Technology Can Improve Customer Satisfaction

Elo touchscreens for self-service

When we talk about disruptive technology, we’re referring to game-changing innovations that completely transform how customers approach a product or service. The new technology is so much faster and so much more convenient that they can’t imagine life without it.

Self-service kiosks are a truly disruptive technology for restaurants and retail, and not just because they cut lines, drive higher average tickets, and increase the number of transactions during peak times. The important thing is how much they improve customer satisfaction. They give customers more options, let them make decisions at their own pace, and allow them to get exactly what they’re looking for. According to a study released by McKinsey and Company, 79 percent of consumers intend to continue or increase their use of self-service technology at retail establishments.

On top of that, the retail and hospitality industries are facing an unprecedented labor crunch. Customer demand is up as consumers are eating in restaurants and shopping in stores, but labor availability is at an all-time low. The solution for many companies is creating as many self-service points of service as possible. This way their teams can focus on order fulfillment and customer satisfaction.

What is a self-service kiosk?

Self-service kiosks are customer-facing touchscreen devices that allow them to place orders, make payments, or access information directly from a company. These devices are common at quick-service restaurants, where they allow users to skip the line at the cashier and get their order faster. A study from the National Restaurant Association found that 65% of customers said they would visit a restaurant more often if it offered self-service kiosks. They are also alternatives to the check-out lines in pharmacies, grocery stores, and other retail establishments.

On the retail side, self-service kiosks increase revenue and decrease operational costs. Retailers faced with labor shortages say self-service kiosks free up employees to perform other customer-service duties. They also create a better customer experience. About two-thirds of customers say they prefer the self-service option because they can wrap up their order quicker.

Self-service options were originally an extension of the retailer’s employee-facing point of sale system. But over the last decade, the need for additional security meant that the systems were separated. The payment systems that were developed have become so secure, reliable, and easy to use that today many retailers have begun to think about point of sale as being an extension of self-service.

Today’s self-service devices do more than process payments. At retail locations, in-aisle barcode scanners now provide shoppers with information about products and give them access to entire inventories. Virtual assistants allow employees to gain access to their offices and for visitors to see family members at hospitals. Travelers can check in without ever going to the counter.

How Self-Service Solutions Can Boost Customer Satisfaction

Below are some of the many ways that self-service kiosks are improving customer satisfaction at all types of businesses.

1. Direct connections to experts

The latest generation of self-service kiosks instantly puts users in touch with customer service representatives. They’re a vast improvement over toll free numbers with long wait times.

One example is the agent-on-demand service unveiled in nine airports by United Airlines in 2021. Travelers looking for help with seat assignments, standby and upgrade lists, boarding times, and other issues can access a live agent via one of the self-service kiosks placed around the gate area. A translation function means flyers can ask questions in more than 100 languages. The service is also a plus for the airline because it frees up gate personnel to handle pre-departure duties.

In the not-too-distant future, grocery shoppers will be able to take advantage of a similar service. They will be assisted by a live “concierge” who will help them make the right choice when selecting a type of cheese or bottle of wine. The concierge will have access to the store’s inventory, so their suggestions will always be in stock.

2. Expanding the ‘endless aisle’

Shoppers are familiar with using in-aisle barcode scanners to check prices. But when they want more information — the nutritional information for a piece of produce or the colors a sweater comes in — they often take out their phone.

Now barcode scanner has been transformed into information systems that assist consumers with their purchases. If a shopper at a department store wants a jacket in a larger size, the system can check the inventory at all nearby locations. The system can have it delivered to their favorite location or to their home.

And at the grocer, imagine skipping the line at the deli department by placing your order at a kiosk near the entrance or across the store. Your order will be waiting by the time you get to the counter.

3. Improving customer service

Self-service kiosks go hand in hand with better customer service. In a quick service restaurant, for instance, the employee that used to stand behind the cash register can now perform other customer-focused tasks, such as greeting them in the dining room. They can also help out with cleaning and sanitizing the dining room and restocking inventory. When existing locations are retrofitted with self-service kiosks, customer satisfaction score see a measurably rise.

4. The end of lines

It’s just human nature for people to walk out the door when they see a line. A study published by the Capgemini Research Institute found that 60% of shoppers said that long lines were the biggest headache associated with in-store shopping. That’s a lot of lost revenue. Adding self-service kiosks doesn’t just cut down the number of people waiting to place or pay for an order. Putting more customer orders into the queue increases operational efficiencies in the kitchen. It lets the staff expedite similar orders, improving overall speed of service. That means eliminating lines at both the register and at the pick-up station.

5. More customization

Nothing improves customer satisfaction scores like giving people exactly what they want. Self-service kiosks simplify that process by providing a customer with all their options on one screen. If they’re shopping for an item like a flat-screen television, they can add the service plan or arrange for installation while they’re still in the store. They don’t feel the usual pressure, such as the feeling that they are holding up the line if they ask the cashier a question. In a quick service restaurant, customers can get their burger with exactly the right toppings.

Studies show that if a cashier asks whether a customer would like to add a drink to their order, they say yes 85% of the time. But cashiers can get easily overwhelmed during peak periods and forget to ask about additional items. A kiosk will ask every time, letting customers get exactly what they want. And there are no judgements if they want to add a large order of fries.

Final Thoughts

Today’s customers expect to find the latest technology when they walk into a brick-and-mortar establishment. According to a study released by Nielsen, about 75% of consumers are looking for more control over their shopping experience. They want to scan the price of an item when they grab it from the shelf, they want to know what other options are available, and they want to be able to skip the cashier if they see a line. Self-service kiosks give them the power to customize their shopping experience in ways that weren’t possible just a few years ago.

By Rick Smith – Elo Touch Solutions