The self-service industry is booming. By 2027 it is predicted to be valued at $46.0 billion, almost double what it was valued at in 2019. The pandemic has played a part in the increased demand for automated services as people look for fewer face-to-face experiences. However, the innovations we’ve seen from self-service technologies had already opened people’s eyes to the possibility of quicker and more personalised service. Sam Zietz, CEO of Grubbrr said, “before the Covid-19 pandemic, self-ordering technology was gaining traction; however, the pandemic acted as an accelerant”.
Keep reading to see what innovations in self-service technology we’ve embraced and accepted into our day to day lives.
1. Automatic Telling Machines
Since 1967 ATMs have been a recognised part of our everyday lives. This makes cash machines one of the most established forms of self-service. ATMs allow users to interact with their bank and accounts without the need for a customer service assistant. The customer can access their account and withdraw from the funds available in a matter of seconds. ATMs provide a quicker service than waiting in line at a bank and then giving your details to a bank assistant.
In the US over 10 billion transactions are performed at ATMs every year. The appeal of ATMs comes from the fact you can find them anywhere now. You’ll find multiple ATMs on streets in retail areas and away from that Post Offices tend to have a cash machine available. Pop-up ATMs can even be found at festivals.
As you’ll find out later on in this list, another form of banking self-service has seen the demand for ATMs reduce in recent years. The total number of ATMs in the UK peaked in 2015 and has fallen every year since. With the pandemic also pushing people and businesses toward a cashless approach to help stop the spread of Covid, the need for ATMs has continued to fall.
2. Interactive Kiosks
Interactive kiosks come in various forms but will be comprised of a digital display in a housing unit. The screen will be touch-sensitive allowing the user to select the information they want to be displayed. Interactive kiosks can be used for a variety of purposes such as wayfinding, advertising and information. Being interactive means the user can engage with the content in a way that works best for them. For example, when using an information kiosk, the user can tap the on-screen categories to bring up what they are looking for, such as nearby restaurants. Users can gain access to the exact information they want instantly rather than waiting for the screen to cycle through various pages. To learn more about the different types of kiosks, check out our kiosks you should know about blog post.
Of brands that use digital signage, 80% have recorded a substantial increase in sales. This is down to keeping the attention of the customers for as long as possible. Interactive kiosks provide an engaging way for customers to interact with a brand’s advertisements and keep them in store for longer.
From a cost perspective, interactive kiosks can help you to reduce expenditure. These multi-touch devices can cover a range of services for which you would typically require a customer service team. Implementing an interactive kiosk can allow you to reduce the number of employees you require, giving you a way to cut costs.
3. Supermarket Barcode Scanners
When you walk into a supermarket now you aren’t just met by trolleys and baskets but also a wall of handheld scanners. These devices allow customers to scan the barcodes of the items they pick up while shopping. Instead of getting to the checkout and having to put all of their items on the conveyor and have the till staff scan everything one at a time, the shopper can hand over the scanner. The scanner will then bring up the total cost for the shopper to pay. Not only does this encourage customers to buy more due to the ease of use of the device but it also improves the customer experience.
By significantly reducing the time spent at the checkout queue times will be cut giving customers a quicker payment process.
A new development in this technology is now being tested. This is the introduction of smart carts. Instead of using a trolley and a mobile scanner, they have been combined into one item. The smart cart comes with a screen that can provide recommendations and advertisements, as well as show the scanned list. Also, built-in is a scale for weighing loose fruit and vegetables. It is yet another step in improving the customer experience and expediting the customer’s exit at the checkout.
4. Online Banking Services
Online banking is the next step in self-service banking and the reason for lowering ATM demands. 76% of people are using internet banking UK-wide. While three in four Americans have used their primary bank’s mobile app within the last year for everyday banking tasks.
Online banking can be done using either a bank’s dedicated app or from their website. The big advantage is that you can have access to your account instantly from anywhere, as long as you have an internet connection. There’s no need to speak over the phone or queue to deal with a customer service assistant or even find your nearest ATM point. Online banking gives users access to all their banking services without having to leave the house.
The popularity of online banking is due to the ease of access customers have to their financial services. Waiting times have been completely removed by this self-service technology and as a result, customers feel less need to visit their local branch. In the past 10 years, 25% of bank branches have closed in the UK. Banking for many people has become an exclusively online experience thanks to this self-service innovation.
5. Booking Kiosks
Various industries can take advantage of the service provided by booking kiosks. With a booking system in place, customers can make reservations themselves based on the available choices. A common industry to find booking kiosks in is the hospitality sector. Restaurants use them to allow customers to reserve a table.
From a customer perspective, booking kiosks provide a feeling that they are in control. Instead of being suggested an option by a customer service assistant they can see all of the options and select the one that works best for them.
For the business itself, booking kiosks are a relatively cheap option that can be as convenient as a tablet mounted on a desk or a plinth. This also reduces the number of staff required as customers can confirm bookings without the need for a member of staff to be involved.
Telephone bookings were the traditional way of making restaurant reservations, however, this method dropped significantly between 2015 and 2019, from 58% to 20%. The main booking method now is using a booking kiosk and available online reservation systems.
6. Ticketing Kiosks
Particularly popular in the travel industry, ticketing kiosks provide an automated service for purchasing and printing tickets. By fully automating this procedure it eliminates the requirement for a live agent to be involved. As well as this, an airport or train station could have multiple ticketing kiosks placed around the area instead of having just one ticket collection point worked by an employee. The significant benefit is that waiting times are reduced as customers can serve themselves at one of the many ticketing points.
Cinemas are another popular location for ticketing kiosks. Here, customers can pick a film, then select the seats they would like and pay. The customer can get their tickets without even having to leave the lobby area. Customers are taking to this method of paying for their tickets now as concerns around Covid still linger. An automated service that restricts face to face interaction will be a popular choice as it reduces the chance for the virus to spread.
7. Hotel automated services
Hotels have large amounts of people arriving and departing each day and only so many members of staff who could complete these services. To help with this, many hotels have check-in/out kiosks to allow customers to complete this process themselves. However, a more recent development is the introduction of hotel apps. If the customer has this downloaded on their phone, then they can automatically check-in and out without having to queue to talk to someone or use a kiosk. This is by far the most popular method of completing this process with 62% of people preferring a hotel app.
A hotel app not only improves the customer experience by cutting out waiting times but also encourages brand loyalty. Hotels often have a rewards program, however, 70% of shoppers are more likely to participate in a loyalty program if they can easily access loyalty cards and rewards from their phones. Hotels that are incorporating their rewards program into their app not only offer a seamless check-in/out process but are using it to encourage brand loyalty.
It’s part of our lives
Self-service technology allows customers to cut out the middle man and interact with a business directly. Many of the innovations listed above have become ingrained in our daily lives and are now expected as an available option. Ticketing kiosks at a cinema, booking kiosks in a restaurant, and interactive kiosks in shopping centres are no longer novelties but part of the expected package.
If you have any questions about self-service technologies we are here to help so don’t wait to get in touch.