We’re seeing a structural shift in the use of technology by many different industries the likes of banking, telecom, retail, quick service restaurants and a few more. These businesses are shifting their focus from physical branches and human staff towards a combination of human service and self service.
What is Self Service
By self service, we mean they are automating the provision of their services with the help of self service kiosks. What are self service kiosks? Self service kiosks are freestanding or wall mounted machines that have a large touchscreen to navigate their UI and help customers avail services all on their own without having to enter a store or speak to an employee of that business.
Self Service in Banking
An ATM is perhaps the oldest and most widely known example of a self service kiosk, so much so, that people can’t even imagine going inside their bank branch to withdraw cash anymore. What if I told you, there are modern baking kiosks that can help you deposit cash & checks into your account, open a new bank account, dispense a new debit card, pay bills and in some cases even apply for a loan.
Telecoms and Self Service
SIM dispensing kiosks for telecom service providers and agents are also slowly appearing in public spaces. These kiosks allow for the onboarding of new customers with full KYC and identity checks and dispense new active SIM cards instantly. They can also be used to perform a SIM swap, pay bills, transfer money to mobile wallets and so on.
Why is it The Future?
What some people fail to understand is that this technology isn’t really all that new and certain businesses and market leaders in their respective industries have been trying to push for digital transformation for many years now. McDonald’s installed their first self ordering kiosk back in 2015 and now all their franchises all over the globe have self service ordering options.
So, what changed? Why is self service suddenly the saving grace of service delivery? Well, the Coronavirus pandemic played a quite big role in the acceleration of bringing self service into the mainstream.
The COVID-19 Impact
When the first wave landed, the world was taken by storm and almost all businesses had to shut down at one point or another. Some were shut down for months before they could resume operations. There were however some businesses that managed to still service customers despite being shut down. This is where the early adopters of self service really cashed in.
You see, self service kiosks aren’t restrained by operating hours or business times, nor do they require any human staff to operate properly. And if the kiosk is installed in a public location with 24/7 public access, there is never any service downtime except maybe for maintenance which is also very rare. All of this adds up to 24/7 operational capability without putting employees at harm during a global health crisis.
No Wait Times
Self service kiosks also rarely have any queues of customers waiting for their turn since customer service times via self service are extremely quick. Registering and purchasing a new SIM card takes only two minutes. These kiosks flourished when businesses had to shut down their physical stores during the lockdowns.
Changing Industry Trends
However, ever since the first wave many other organizations took note of self service and started implementing it where they could to prepare themselves for future closures. Everybody started treating self service like a primary channel of service delivery. In the United States, almost every individual now has access to self service in some way.
This has created a new consumer trend; customers now prefer self service channels over in-person buying or shopping. With such easy access to the internet and self service kiosks, they question the need to go inside a store and waste additional time and resources.
Its Only Up From Here
This trend seems to be on an upward trajectory with customers prioritizing self service and businesses generating more revenue as a result. Businesses can save a lot of fixed costs that they would otherwise incur running a physical branch or store and this way employees can focus on more challenging tasks which boosts productivity overall.
Customers have gotten so used to self service now that they expect the option to do it themselves everywhere they go now. If a business doesn’t have self service options, a customer may reconsider and go elsewhere.
A Competitive Edge
Having multiple channels of service delivery has become a necessity for companies to remain competitive with at least one self service option. Without a good omnichannel service delivery strategy, businesses can no longer compete in the same space. So we believe its safe to assume that this merely the start for self service kiosks and they are going to become far more widespread in the near future.