NCR Views on Today's Kiosk Market
In our final interview this issue, KIOSK EUROPE asked MIKE WEBSTER, Vice President and General Manager, Self-Service, NCR Retail Solutions Division, his opinions on the self-service market of today.
KIOSK EUROPE: Self-checkout solutions can be found in many major supermarket outlets today. Has the kiosk market reached a breakthrough?
MIKE WEBSTER: Airline check-in, hotel guest check-in and checkout, as well as retail self-service checkout continue to grow in popularity. A recent survey by NCR in the UK found that 66 per cent of respondents say they want self-service at the checkout to make shopping faster and more convenient. This trend is spreading globally in the retail industry.
KE: I was awestruck two weeks ago when I observed a woman and a man of senior age choosing to use the self checkout over two customer attendant occupied traditional checkouts, which both had no customers waiting in line! What percentage of customers actually choose self-service over customer-attended service today, according to your experience?
MW: Self-service technology has nearly universal appeal. Factors like age, gender, ethnicity and economic strata are less important than whether consumers are being served when, how and where they want. Self-service offers consumers more choice and convenience while increasing profits and productivity for businesses.
KE: In which sectors, apart from retail, are you seeing promising developments?
MW: Airlines have adopted self-service kiosks to improve the customer experience while reducing costs. As a result, queues and wait times have decreased. Each time a customer uses a self-service kiosk to check-in, the airline saves about €4.00, while enabling the airline to redeploy labour to better serve customers. Business travellers are among the most prolific users. As reported in a story in USA Today, nearly 70 per cent of business travellers used airport kiosks in 2005.
In the hotel industry, guest check-in is 48 per cent faster using self-service kiosks than at a traditional registration desk and hotel checkout is 58 per cent faster according to our Human Factors Engineering study with a major hotel group. In most cases, guests can complete their check-in/checkout transactions in less than a minute, giving your employees more time to complete essential duties and address more complex guest issues. We also expect self-service ordering to gain traction, for example in quick-service restaurants.
KE: So is there no stopping self-service?
MW: We are rapidly becoming a self-service society. Today’s busy consumers are no longer willing to wait in queues or tolerate poor service. This means solutions such as self-checkout can be a very effective platform for delivering a personalised, one-to-one experience that affords tremendous opportunity for up-selling and cross-selling. Self-service technologies, such as kiosks and interactive displays, will prompt shoppers to identify themselves at the beginning of the shopping experience to deliver value-added services such as checking gift lists and receiving targeted promotions.
KE: Kiosks are certainly winning points against the internet by bringing customers who might otherwise opt for online shopping back into the shops and keeping them there. But at the same time they are also facing competition from the internet in the form of almost unbeatable low transaction costs, e.g. in online banking vs. kiosk based banking. How do you see kiosks answering this challenge?
MW: Self-service in a store or bank branch needs to complement the internet channel.By integrating self-service channels with the rest of the enterprise, making use of personalisation and targeted marketing, retailers and banks can enhance and solidify customer relationships.
It’s important to have a continuous, 360-degree, fully integrated view of the customer in order to provide excellent service at the customer’s point of need and deliver the value that keeps them coming back. This approach makes customer service representatives smarter, while making all of an organisation’s touch points smarter too – with rich intelligence gleaned from continuous interaction. Kiosks are the choice of today’s customers.
It begins with an enterprise-wide information environment. Businesses with a single, integrated view of their operations can make better, faster decisions. An organisation needs to be able to capture all customer interactions, analyse them in near real-time and push customised dialogues to the customer whether he or she chooses to communicate with a business in person at a store or branch, via the phone, via the Internet or using a self-service device.