The self-service revolution

Luke Parker
The self-service revolution

In a day where time is a precious commodity, waiting in long queues is fast becoming a thing of the past.

From buying food to paying a bill, banking a cheque to boarding a flight, more Kiwis are opting to use self-service kiosks across many industries as a preferred alternative to having to wait for human interaction.

 

Connecting the country

Cath Sample1

Cath Sample

“We’re seeing lots of new growth in the retail and HR areas as well as businesses booking goods and services,” says Cath Sample, director of Auckland company Phosphor who design and develop applications for touchscreen kiosks, web, and mobile, and have worked on over 50 kiosk projects since 1994.

“The airline, banking, and supermarket sectors are already well ahead of the curve.”

SEE ALSO: Warning signs NZ’s digital innovation slipping

Cath says the geography of New Zealand means that for many this is going to be the best way to service the whole country.

“The market is going through a steep change now from large expensive clunky, unreliable kiosks, to small (10” to 17”), affordable, well-connected, very reliable machines that are popping up all over the place.”

One example she uses is NZ Post’s kiosks now helping customers process bill payments within a few minutes rather than them having to wait in a line with other customers doing banking or postage transactions.

And apparently Kiwis are taking to the new technology like ducks to water.

“We are good at picking up new things,” Cath says. “We are also really good at telling very quickly if they’re crap or not. Kiwis don’t tolerate bad technology and will tell their mates about it.

"Nobody worries about doing an EFTPOS transaction these days, but it was once very new. We adopt things that work for us and reject things that don’t.”

 

The key to creating killer kiosks

Kiosk Small

A transactional kiosk with printer and payment options by NCR.

Studies performed around the uptake of new technology all come back to 2 key interlocked things – whether the client has a good experience, and whether it has a good interface design.

“Good interface design is the key to the client having a good experience,” Cath says. “It sounds simple but many make the mistake of not putting the time into the transaction flow and the look and feel. Good design always helps.”

Looking at the future of the self-service kiosk here in New Zealand, she believes there will be smaller, more personal kiosks as they are much cheaper and much better connected.

“New payment technologies will also enable many new kiosk networks as cash starts to fade and NFC and other new technologies get more acceptance from the general populace. The future will have more, smaller and smarter kiosks in many more locations.”

 

What will they do next?

When asked what self-service kiosks will look like in 10 years, Cath has some clear ideas.

"10 years is a very long time in computing, however, there are some things that we can say with some confidence. Payment will become easier, and combining mobile devices with location-based kiosks will be very common. Some kiosks will get smaller and some will get bigger, and they will all get cheaper and more functional over time. 

"In our view the biggest area of growth will be in devices that you don’t think of as a kiosk now, but will soon be using on a daily basis at home, in the workplace, and on the street. The internet of things is all about 'things' being connected, available and easy to access. This means everywhere, all the time, and kiosks will be very much in the mix."

SEE ALSO: Warning signs NZ’s digital innovation slipping

 

Pros and cons of the self-service kiosk

Pros:

  • Kiosks never sleep – a reliable kiosk can do transactions all day and all night.

  • Can have your offering in many locations that would otherwise cost a huge amount to setup and person to manage it.

  • Can be used to service all the “fast and easy” transactions and free up your counter staff to serve customers who have difficult problems that require human intervention. 

  • Can have information and comparisons of all the products available, not just the ones you have in stock.

  • You can put your products and services into someone else’s environment by installing a kiosk in their store, forecourt, or lobby.

  • Quicker service times.

  • Reduced cost of delivering goods and services.

Cons:

  • They need to work all the time. Kiosks need to be monitored so they’re up and running as long as possible.

  • They need to be fed paper if they use a printer.

  • They need to be serviced from time to time. A service contract is the right way to mitigate these issues and have a successful kiosk network.

 

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