Kiosks as Customer Survey
Simon Rowland is the CEO of Customer Research Technology Ltd, where since 2006 he has taken them through a high-growth stage within key sectors of retail, health and local government. With a keen focus on a select number of strategic partnerships, CRT now serves over 500 customers in the UK, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
KIOSK EUROPE: Can we start with a brief overview of CRT and where they are positioned in regard to kiosk solutions?
SIMON ROWLAND: CRT was established in 2001 to capture customer feedback at the point of experience and decision, using a range of technologies, including kiosks, tablet PCs and online surveys. We use the IBM Anyplace Kiosk for self-service survey solutions. Our central data repository, ViewPoint RCS, provides an open platform for integration within an organisation, so that the right information can reach the right the people in the required format.
The particularly exciting thing about our solution is the ability to gain insights from people at their ‘point of experience,’ whether this is from a browser in-store, a patient in a hospital or a person visiting a police station. We also provide online surveys for online shoppers and service users, so the feedback is again captured at the point of experience online.We are passionate about providing technologies that enable companies and organisations to engage with their service users and customers, to better understand their customers and bring about an improvement in the service delivered.
KE: Do you offer your kiosk solution primarily to the retail market, or are you also active in other areas as well?
SR: Retail is currently about 50% of our business; our other main area of focus is public sector, which includes healthcare, police and local councils.
KE: What are the advantages of a kiosk as a customer survey tool, as opposed to more traditional methods like paper questionnaires?
SR: The advantages of using a kiosk over other survey methods include financial benefits, data accuracy and numbers of responses. Financial, in that a ROI can often be delivered in the first year despite the initial investment in the hardware and software, and staff or agency time is saved when compared to the handling of paper surveys. Accuracy, in terms of feedback being from the point of experience, and therefore 40% more accurate, together with an excellent spread of respondents – not just Mr and Mrs Angry. We also find that much higher participation rates can be gained through collecting data via a kiosk at the point of experience and decision, around the clock.
KE: How does this compare with online surveys?
SR: Coventry University has found that 79% of consumers actually prefer to give feedback using touchscreens, rather than paper or online surveys. People are actually more honest when giving feedback at a touchscreen. Additionally, in 2006 Gartner Research showed that collecting feedback at the point of experience is 40% more accurate than following up after the event!
Furthermore, collecting feedback at a kiosk enables the whole spectrum of society to participate, and thus achieves an accurate spectrum of responses, with both positive and negative feedback being given, from all age groups that make up the business’ clientele. We’re finding that kiosks are a very inclusive technology.
What’s particularly successful about our solution is that businesses can capture vital information from people who came into a store but did not buy anything. A kiosk in-store is the most efficient way to capture feedback from both a customer and a non-buying browser.
KE: If a kiosk is installed in-store, whereabouts would you place this: near the checkout area, near the door or what?
SR: The kiosk would usually be installed away from the POS area, because we’re inviting browsers who have not bought anything to leave feedback, not just purchasers. Likewise, it wouldn’t be placed by the door because you don’t want the kiosk to get in the way or simply be bypassed. Experience shows that it has to be in a place where there is a high footfall, but also the capacity to allow a person to pause and complete the survey at the kiosk without feeling rushed or in the way. This always depends on an assessment of the individual store.
KE: You said that installing these kiosks does deliver a return on investment (ROI). But how does an increased knowledge of the customer experience lead to an increase in revenues?
SR: Retailers can use the data gathered to improve the customer experience, engage more efficiently with potential buyers and improve customer satisfaction. There is evidence that an increase in customer satisfaction results in increased in-store spend.
Sears, the US retail giant, found that a 4% increase in customer satisfaction led to a turnover increase of almost $200 million, and a piece of research undertaken by the Institute of Customer Service shows companies with a reputation for customer service excellence have a 24% higher net profit margin than same-sector rivals who do not enjoy similar standing, and can achieve 71% more profit per employee.
One of our customers, Cadbury World, saved 50% of their traditional research costs and generated significantly increased response rates, up to 700 in a week. Another, Specsavers, listened to their in-store browsers who didn’t find what they were looking for and re-aligned their stock of glasses frames in response.
Companies can use the feedback from visitors to learn where their service levels, store layout or stock items are good, but also what needs to improve, and then take store-level and board-level action in response to this.
KE: How does this model work in markets other than retail?
SR: In the public sector, the government advises service providers like healthcare providers or the police to engage with the public on their experiences. From the end of 2009, capturing real-time patient feedback is mandatory for the British public healthcare service, the NHS. Kiosks placed in waiting areas, restaurants, wards, specialist departments and reception areas are beginning to play a prominent role in this.
Additionally, Tablet PCs are used to capture data at the bedside, so information from all stages of the patient journey is captured.
KE: The kiosk, though, is only one part of your solution isn’t it?
SR: Yes it is. IBM provide the hardware for the kiosk and we provide the application, software and managed services for the solution, whether it be a kiosk-based, online survey, handheld PDA or Tablet PC based survey. Our software includes all the necessary tools for the survey design, management of devices and reports and the analysis of the response data. Our ‘Coca-Cola’ ingredient is ‘Valid8’, which is a complex mechanism that ensures that our feedback is qualified as genuine. For example, if a child was playing around at a kiosk, the software could recognise whether or not this was genuine feedback, and discount this from the overall data if it was not. This ensures the highest quality of feedback.
KE: You said that people prefer to give feedback using a touchscreen kiosk. Why?
SR: Kiosks have really taken off over the past few years, and people are happy to use them and enjoy the interaction and experience. When a kiosk is not being interacted with, the attract screen can communicate how previous feedback has been responded to, so that browsers feel more empowered and know that their opinion does count. Customers also like to be in control, and often feel more comfortable leaving feedback in an anonymous manner rather than to a person with a clipboard.
KE: How much of your job is to educate your customers to treat customer feedback as an essential part of their business?
SR: Retailers are already well-aware that they need to hear the voice of their customers, and they also appreciate that most current methods of feedback miss out the non-buyer or browsers, which is feedback they are also keen to have. In a tougher climate, companies look more closely at their bottom line, increasing efficiencies and ROI: customer feedback is a key part of this.
Specsavers used the IBM AnyPlace Kiosk to capture immediate and incisive feedback from within its 620 stores. In just six months, the kiosks gave the company feedback from over 55,000 customers and browsers. The company used the feedback to adjust their product range to match the desires of their browsers, as they found that some of their visitors were not buying because they wanted a particular frame that Specsavers did not stock at that time. By bringing their product range in line with their customers’ desires, they brought about an increase in sales.
Leicestershire Constabulary wanted to capture and assess the general public’s view of the service provided by the local police. They placed a kiosk in entrance halls and waiting areas at six police stations across the country, on a rotational basis. They also took mobile versions to supermarkets to capture data from the public who were not using the police service at that moment. The solution was found to be most time-effective and cost-effective compared to previous telephone surveys, and also enabled the police to capture data from a broader cross-section of the community.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010