When our phone rings, it's often the same type of clients – enthusiastic and eager to talk about their long-delayed plans of implementing a self-service kiosk network for their tourists.But every conversation for the last three years has always ended in the same dead-end -- at least until six months later -- when they call back.
The problem with this particular client is hardly unique. The reasons for delayed self-service projects are familiar to kiosk vendors, but most demonstrate a key underlying problem: Many potential clients dive into the creation of a self-service network without a clear concept of what kind of solution will best meet their needs. As a vendor that works with a variety of clients to develop customized self-service solutions, we would like to devote our blog as a guide in preparing to build a self-service kiosk network. Our first series of blogs is going to cover the four essential steps prospective kiosk buyers should explore before investing time and money into a kiosk/self-service program. Our four steps are:
Articulating your goals.
Anticipating your audience.
Predicting your needs.
And asking questions.
Today we are going to cover articulating your goals. Ostensibly, this seems fairly self-explanatory; take the time to consider what you want to accomplish with a self-service network before you start. Not thinking this step through can easily lead to several project restarts in the development and design phases.
Goal 1: The purpose for the self-service network
Articulating this goal can be straight-forward, whether it's a goal of increasing revenue, enhancing information delivery, improving customer satisfaction or engaging new customers.
Each of those goals, however, will lead you in significantly different directions when designing a self-service network. We have worked with many clients who initially don't want to make any money, only to change their minds later and start looking for ways to monetize their networks.
Often switching focuses like that can cost a lot of money in extra programming and time that could potentially have been saved had the goals been set from the start.
Goal 2: Timeline
Allowing for time is important when it comes to kiosk networks. Typically a good self-service solution will involve a lot of moving parts that all have to be designed to work together, parts which may include a central server, credit card authorization system, a custom user interface and database, and, of course, the kiosks themselves. As a company that creates new networks on a regular basis we have rarely had any network development go completely according to plan. While considering a timeline for the project, be aware of this complexity and don't set deadlines that are too ambitious or too inflexible.
Goal 3: Measuring success
Depending on the type of network you have, measuring the success of your network can mean various things. If it's a sales kiosk, success might be measured in how much revenue it brings in. If it's a tourism or way-finding kiosk, an area we work in frequently, success might be measured in the amount of use or numbers of users for each kiosk or the amount of traffic the network generates to the specific areas being promoted. Whatever the metric is, having it defined clearly as you set out to develop your self-service network ensures that whatever solution you choose will be able to measure the results you're looking for.
These three goals are seemingly simple, but taking some time to articulate these goals early in the process can possibly help you save time and money - and, yes, even a few phone calls - as your self-service network is developed.
Since 2004, Ionescu has built a proprietary software/hardware package for state tourism and hotels. Ionescu believes successful kiosk networks are built upon ongoing collaboration between the client and provider to develop flexible systems that clients and users are happy with for years.