Review: NCR Self-Service Universe 05
The Self-Service Universe
The Kiosk Will Conquer
To paraphrase the opening presentation by Jeff Lutz, VP at NCR’s financial solutions division, major social trends like individualisation, the need for speed and hedonism,and the changing demographics in Western societies all fuel the development of self-service technology. Consumers have grown into a habit of merciless high demand on quality, speed, convenience and availability of service. If you can manage to meet these high-altitude expectations you will be rewarded generously, but beware those who get it wrong, because second chances are few and far between.
Historically speaking, today’s kiosk success stories stand on the shoulders of earlier, less complex self-service technology, such as vending machines and payphones. (please see graph). The first huge success in self-service was the use of FIY (fill-it- yourself) pumps at petrol stations, which spread through the market at a pace thought impossible at the time. Following soon after, ATMs capitalised on this astounding development, acclimatising the broader public to the use of selfservice terminals. So it’s no wonder that prime kiosk applications like pay-at-the-pump penetrated the market so quickly, meeting hardly any obstacles along the way. These are the trendsetters that laid the way for the buoyant market we’re all enjoying right now. We know the market’s ready. We know the timing’s right. So, as the saying goes: Let’s make hay while the sun’s shines!
Good Things Come in Threes
Successful kiosk projects hinge on three critical factors: customer satisfaction, cost reduction and revenue growth.To start with customer satisfaction; reduced queues and higher availability through self-service are benefits that are clearly apparent to anyone. But, as speakers from many different fields stressed throughout the conference, the feeling of control and selfempowerment the customer gains through kiosk use is just as important as the other, more apparent benefits we have already mentioned.
Reduced transaction cost through self-service is a benefit already well established by the ATM, which continues to prove its kiosk profitability inside branches, serving the always-important traditional clientele, which still prefers to call into the branch rather than use online, or off-site, services.
With kiosk usage growing all the time, and the subsequent increases in transaction volumes that entails, revenue growth is predictably strong and predictably steady. Interestingly enough, many speakers stressed the point that the use of credit and debit cards does not seem to be have sounded the death bell for good old cash, contrary to all expectations from the 1990s. In fact, just the opposite seems to be true. The introduction of the Euro has created a renaissance for cash amongst many Europeans, who now enjoy their freedom from the constraints of the bureau de change and the traveller’s cheque.
Conference attendees were inundated with kiosk success stories too many to count, but there were some underlying trends and experiences shared by all:
Perhaps the most relevant feedback from customers is that where self-service solutions are in place they actually use the equipment and enjoy using it. Many customers actually feel that they are regaining control of their shopping experience, and their checkout waiting times in particular. The technology has been so well accepted that up to 10 % of some retailers’ customers have said they shop at a particular outlet because it offers self-service checkout kiosks. Original surveys showed no difference in the acceptance of the new technologies with regard to age and other demographic factors, and this claim has proven true by experience with systems in place.
So what now?
One of the clearest facts to emerge from the industry leaders at the Self- Service Universe is that most of the prevailing issues, like accessibility, reliability and network linkage of kiosks have now been ironed out, so the technology is heading in one clear direction to increase customer acceptance and therefore operator returns – customisation. The latest generation of kiosks can offer, if the user so desires, customised screen menus and service offerings packaged entirely in accordance with the relevant consumer’s individual profile. This kind of personalisation offers even more convenience and increases revenue by directly targeting products and services towards those most likely to purchase them. Multiservice platforms, based on individual usage requirements, also increase time savings and boost overall acceptance of kiosk use. Profiled advertising can also then be employed, providing additional revenue for the kiosk deployer. Kiosk use and acceptance can be further enhanced by the current, and much welcomed, trend towards embeddingkiosk installations in wider room and experience installations, e.g. inside coffee shops, which offers the customer a relaxed environment to stay in and potentially spend more time at the terminal, opening new opportunities for additional transactions, promotions and sales. The latest wireless technology even allows for the effective yet low-cost installation of kiosks in temporarily profitable locations, such as concerts and events, further increasing the ratio of environment to return on investment.
To Sum It Up …
Everyone at the conference agreed on a few basic facts:
- kiosks have arrived and they are here to stay,
- the technology has reached full maturity and enjoys high acceptance amongst consumers
- the industry now knows how to get a good kiosk project off the ground, so it’s up to customer service managers to seize their opportunities and gain a competitive advantage which can only increase as time moves on.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005