McDonald’s recently introduced a new type of ordering system – the ‘Create Your Taste’ kiosk, that allows customers to order via a touchscreen. After placing an order, all customers have to do is sit down and wait for their meal. This kiosk isn’t the first of its kind, however. In Japan, most ramen restaurants have customers order and pay for their meal via a vending machine, again, with the ease of just waiting for their food afterwards.These examples of using machines to expedite the ordering process demonstrates how self-service is replacing the assisted service industry. The self-service industry is rising quickly, with customers preferring to use machines to get their services instead of interacting with an assisted service worker.
So what makes self-service so appealing to customers? Here are four reasons why self-service enhances the way customers engage with your services.
1: Self-service is faster
A problem that customers have when using an assisted service, is that they have to go somewhere to use it and have to wait in line in order to get the service they need. This might be due to the fact that there are not enough assisted service workers to help customers efficiently. This ratio of workers to customers can lead to customers waiting from several minutes to hours for a service that they may need instantly. When they finally get to the booth, customers may not fully be engaged, due to their impatience caused by waiting in line.
One Chase branch next to Grand Central Station in New York is solving this issue using self-service technology. There are no workers in the bank. Instead there is an open area filled with kiosks. These kiosks not only allow customers to get cash, like an ATM, but also allow them to do different tasks, that usually require a bank assistant to help – such as ordering a new debit card. Instead of wasting time waiting for someone to help with these tasks, customers can do these tasks by themselves and get the services they need in a shorter amount of time.
2: Self-service empowers customers to take charge in how they use a service
In today’s marketplace, there are many types of mobile applications that track different aspects of our lives. Health-monitoring applications are one of the most popular types of apps among consumers. But what makes customers download these applications? Wouldn’t they rather use the same methods that health professionals use to take vitals before a doctor’s appointment?
According to Dr. Sean Munson, an associate professor of Human-Centered Design Engineering at the University of Washington, tools that are used by health professionals are either too confusing for customers to use, or the results that are given are simply not helpful to them. Munson finds that people collect their own data in order to easily identify changes and to track how fast they are able to change. By being aware of changes, and how fast data is being collected, customers can take charge in making changes based on the information given to them by the service. This empowerment can lead customers to make quicker and effective changes to their lifestyle that work best for their personal needs.
3: With self-service, there’s less room for error
Even well-trained, experienced workers can make mistakes when interacting with the customers. For example, a common mistake that baristas make is mishearing the customer’s order, especially during rush hour, where baristas are trying to serve many customers in a short period of time. Mishearing a customer’s order can lead to orders being mixed up, and increases the number of irritated customers.
However, with self-service, the margin of error shrinks significantly. Sheryl E. Kimes, a professor of operations management at Cornell, and Joel E. Coller, an associate professor of marketing at Mississippi State University, found through surveying several customers who had previously used self-service, that self-service technology increased the accuracy of the transaction. Because the customer is the one in control of the transaction in self-service, the customer does not have to rely on an assisted service worker to make their transactions accurate. By doing it themselves, customers are taking charge of how they are using a service and are less likely to make mistakes when making a transaction.