Self-service kiosks represent the future of many businesses, offering automation and efficiency in a great many ways. They allow customers to customize and tailor a product to their own needs and to purchase things at their own convenience. That being said, they offer their own individual challenges so it is important to understand more about them before purchasing.
A self service kiosk is essentially a device that allows a consumer to interact directly with a company, receiving a service at their own convenience. The most common example of this is purchasing tickets for a train or bus stop. You simply approach the self-service kiosk, pay your money and receive a ticket, all without waiting in line or asking for assistance. Self-service kiosks are also widely distributed to quick-pay restaurants where the intended goal is to expedite the process of ordering and waiting for your food. These kiosks don’t just extend to commercial aspects, they also are quite useful for checking in and out of hotels, offices also employ them for checking their vendors in and airports utilize their functions for allowing you to check-in to your flight as a means to save time for both you and the business itself.
The general purpose of a self-service kiosk is to expedite customer interaction, ensuring a quick and easy exchange for both sides. These kiosks generally provide four basic services: payment options, check-in services, branding/promotion and product management. Many self-service kiosks offer NFC and other secure pay options, allowing the purchase of a large number of digital services all through an automated machine. Check-in for hotels and flights are made quite easily with self-service kiosks, saving a large amount of time compared to other forms of check-in. Branding and promotion are easily accomplished without any additional effort from the company as any advertisements can be displayed on the kiosks quite plainly for a great number of people to see. Lastly, with so many individuals and heavy foot traffic to these kiosks, it is important for a product to be delivered quickly, which the kiosks provide, making sure that automation is kept to a high standard.
With self-service kiosks, there are two outstanding types that exist in the market today. While custom kiosk sizes are available as well, these two types typically suit the general needs of most customers on the market and are designed with their convenience in mind.
Freestanding kiosks tend to be the most popular, with these acting as wayfinders in public malls, with smaller models populating quick-service restaurants. The advantage of a freestanding kiosk is of course visibility, as these tend to be large and prominent, making them easily recognizable and excellent for branding and promotion. The big drawback to freestanding kiosks is that they tend to be more expensive compared to their counterparts as a result of their size.
While available in a large variety of sizes, wall mount kiosks tend to be a great deal smaller than their freestanding counterparts. The advantage of this is that they are much more friendly to those with a limited amount of space when compared to a freestanding kiosk. Most self-check-in kiosks and those related to public transportation are wall-mounted kiosks, with the advantage of having a fully interactive menu without wasting any space.
Self-service kiosks are available in many different capacities throughout most people’s day-to-day lives, helping to expedite business and errands. These services range from self-check in, pay services and general information printouts. Below are some examples of self-service kiosks you may encounter throughout your daily life.
The post office employs self-service kiosks for some automated aspects of package delivery. While it can’t handle all package deliveries, the automated process of buying stamps or a shipping label can easily be expedited through a kiosk to ensure no long lines at the post office.
With a large volume of customers that come through the VEIP, it is important to automate some steps of the process. While checking the vehicle is still in the hands of a licensed professional, processing customers is done through self-service kiosks, ensuring that the technicians have more time to check a car thoroughly.
Similar to the VEIP, the DMV or Department of Motor Vehicles sees a great volume of individuals a day. While much of this system itself isn’t automated, the ticket service and other services help to ensure that no man power is wasted on processing individuals, leaving more availability for customers to be serviced by a professional.
At airports, kiosks are available for two primary reasons-one to act as a general wayfinder as airports tend to be quite large with multiple businesses in their vicinity, and two, to allow self-check in for flights. This means more man power can be spent on catering to passenger needs and security for the building.
As many businesses and offices tend to house a large workforce, kiosks are imperative to keeping track and locating employees at any given time. This also extends to layouts for the company, showing which meeting rooms are located where and helping to ensure that no one at work is lost.
With a large volume of individuals, it is important that hospitals are run efficiently. Self-service kiosks are important for tracking individual patients and their needs as well as ensuring that patients themselves have a direct and immediate method of contacting a nurse at their fingertips.
Some hotels employ kiosks for self-check-in, or for room reservations, but their primary purpose is to ensure that the hotel is kept up to date on your needs. They track which rooms require housekeeping or if you have a specific wants or needs that they can attend to with room service.
Quick service restaurants use kiosks to ensure that their lines are not too packed. Simply use the kiosk presented to order your food and it will be delivered to you without having to wait in a particularly busy line, which is helpful in saving you time and ensuring their employees are not flooded with too many orders at once.
With automation, kiosks allow you to cash checks, withdraw and deposit money all without having to wait in a long line. Banks employ multiple teller machines to ensure that you can accomplish many of the tasks you need to do at the bank even in off hours where the bank is not open.
For bus stations, kiosks allow you to purchase your ticket and keep track of your schedule, ensuring you make it on time. With airports, kiosks are available for two primary reasons-one to act as a general wayfinder as airports tend to be quite large with multiple businesses in their vicinity, and two, to allow self-check in for flights. This means more man power can be spent on catering to passenger needs and security for the building.
Libraries employ self-check-in kiosks to allow you to check your books out by yourself without the need for assistance. This means that librarians have more time to assist with other services as checking books out or checking your overdue time can be done now at your own convenience.
Self-service kiosks vary in price between $500-1500 with some of the larger models costing upwards of around $2,000+. This price is variable as many manufactures will typically extend a discount for bulk orders, so it is advisable to order multiple kiosks to lower the price. A kiosk that was previously around $500 will usually be dropped to around $250 depending on a bulk order. This of course is due to creating the software for each individual kiosk, which will comprise of the bulk of the expense long term. The software itself will need to be routinely updated and maintained, so it is important to keep this in mind when purchasing a self-service kiosk. Some software tends to be more complicated than others, and some require more maintenance than others, so to avoid heavier costs down the road, it is advisable to choose the software that fits your needs most.
Self-service kiosks ensure are important in automating many processes for the consumer. They ensure that businesses are not overwhelmed with a large amount of orders and help to provide a similar service at these establishments, with the major difference being that you the customer are allowed freedom in customization. The case studies that follow are examples of the benefits of self-service kiosks that help to ensure positive customer experiences in the future.
This case study by the German FEA or Federal Employment Agency highlights that customers themselves have a great deal of buying power at their fingertips, but much of it is underutilized. Without automated services, many purchases are made without much of the customer having an active input in their purchases. With self-service kiosks, this trend changes, with customers having an active say in what they do or do not want in their products. Moving forward this is valuable in helping companies provide a more desirable product while also ensuring that customers themselves are more inclined to want a higher degree of customization in their purchases.
This case study by the University of Florida outlines the benefits of customer commitment or interaction, providing a much better product due to user feedback. Across the board, all companies that employ self-service kiosks see a large increase in revenue and spending. The drawback to automation however is that while it is highly beneficial for many products, it also lowers customer interaction which for some is a less than pleasant experience. Automation itself is important to help customers have a product that they are immediately satisfied with, but if there are any problems that exist, it is much harder to fix immediately and change an individual’s perspective as all that is readily in front of them is just an automated machine instead of an individual to exchange grievances with.
This case study by the University of Nevada notes that use of self service technology in airports. With airports, customer satisfaction is integral, but they tend to see a large amount of foot traffic daily. To help with the increased need of more manpower at airports, this study underlines that self-service kiosks are integral to keeping the airport running smoothly, ensuring that long lines are dealt with efficiently. Because the cost of this is lowered through automation, travel is much easier, changing the way the average person travels. Since much of the process is automated, airlines see a larger influx of business which is a positive. Of course problems do arise with automation as machines are much less personable than individuals, but that is the challenge for airports in adapting between both being personable and automating much of their services.
There are positives and negatives to self-service kiosks. Kiosks help to provide a product that is tailored to the customer through customization and while promoting efficiency, helping both the business and the consumer save time. But there are trade-offs, with kiosks requiring an initial investment while also losing a more personal experience. But for many businesses moving forward, kiosks help to save time, allowing more professionals to assist in a more personal capacity which is valuable for everyone.