As I've worked with retailers on self-service strategy, I find that sometimes people become so focused on the technology that they miss the obvious. For self-service to be successful and highly adopted it has to have a triple value promise to customers, the business and the employees. Moreover, all of those must be aligned with the brand.
Customer value- Getting on base
Lately, I've been doing a lot of research on mobile payments. It is interesting to hear experts discuss whether it will be NFC, Google Wallet, Pay Pal or some other emerging technology. One thing all the pundits agree upon is that it will be the solution that delivers the most value to the customer and the merchant.
If you are a baseball fan, think of the customer value promise as just hitting a single. However, without it you wouldn't even have an opportunity to score.
It may sound obvious, but I've seen some deployments that don't seem to think about the customer at all. For self-service to be successful it must clearly do one of the follow:
Offer additional services or products.
Provide greater access to information, products or services.
Moreover, it must do all of these things in such an easy, elegant way that the customer is left thinking, "I don't how I lived without this."
I've heard people planning self-service deployments that make no sense from the customer point of view. One of the most recent was from a quick serve restaurant. Its plan was to have the customer complete his order on a mobile application. Then the customer would go to the restaurant and go to a kiosk to tell them they were in the restaurant and to begin making the order. If you think about this from the customer perspective, it really doesn't save you time. The bulk of the wait is in the food preparation.
The key is to have a clearly articulated value promise to the customer. If you think about two wildly successful deployments, you can easily articulate the value promise from the customer point of view.
Airline check-in Customer value promise: "You no longer have to wait in line. All you have to do is drop your bag."
redbox Customer value promise: "You can get a movie any time, any place and at a low price on your terms."
Business value- rounding second
Now that you are on first and have determined what your value prop is to the customer, you have to clearly articulate what the benefit is to the business. If you don't do this then you cannot measure your return on investment clearly. I'm often asked why business value isn't first. The flip answer is that if the customer won't use it, it doesn't matter how much business value is delivered.
When you think about business value it can be in terms of:
Offering more products and services in less space.
Creating customized products and services.
Creating great capacity to process orders during peak times.
Automating a manual process.
Removing low-value tasks from employees, so they can focus on higher-return activities.
Reducing returns or mistakes.
Increasing customer knowledge and value.
Providing a way for customers to learn more about products.
Demonstrating how products work together.
Allowing customers to create their own solutions.
Providing information that was not readily available before.
Offering perks to loyal customers.
For instance, let's say that you are a retailer and you want to increase sales by ensuring that you are "the place to go when looking for a gift." To achieve this, you may want to create a registry that works like Pintrest, so customers can "pin" products they like and share them with friends and family. Once you've clearly articulated what you are trying to achieve and how you are going about it, you know what to measure. In this instance you may improve brand affinity, which can be a sub metric. However, you are most concerned about increasing sales by gift giving. If you keep your eye on this metric it actually makes it easier to focus on what you need to do to be successful.
One of the greatest challenges of a self-service deployment is how many wonderful things that you can do with kiosks. It can be a payment, job application, product research, loyalty, employee benefit gift registry albatross if you aren't careful. The quickest way to kill a deployment is to lose focus and try to do too much. Therefore, know what you want to achieve and how you are going to measure it from the start.
Employee value- cruising past third
You've now passed two of the biggest challenges—clearly articulating the value to customers and the business. Now third is a bit sneaky and often where it can go wrong. Your employees have to see the value of the deployment. If they don't you will find them not guiding customers to the device or worse -- unplugging it and leaving it in a dark deserted corner until someone from corporate inquires about it.
A truly successful deployment has employees embracing the kiosk and using it as part of the sales process. Imagine if you are a home improvement store and you create a "design your own garden" kiosk. An employee might help you just pick a few plants that are good in shade and be on their way. A great employee would drag you over to the kiosk and help you see how several different plants would work together and how you need this really fabulous new garden bench to enjoy your shade garden.
Another example might be a cell phone store. Frequently, employees are overwhelmed with taking payments from customers. Part of the deployment program should be to teach employees how to guide customers through this transaction. Moreover, it should be pointed out to employees that now they can focus their time and energy on helping new customers and increasing sales—which helps their bottom line, too.
Brand promise- Sliding into home
A well-done self-service deployment can increase brand affinity and loyalty. The application should speak to the customer in the voice of your brand. Is it light and playful? Is it highly designed oriented? Is it friendly and helpful?
The enclosure should look as if it was designed specifically to fit into your architecture. The process should make your customer experience your brand attributes. If you are a logistics company, is the experience efficient and accurate? If you are a children's hospital, is it comforting and playful? If you are a trendy clothing store, is it stylish and hip?
I once used an informational kiosk where the keyboard feedback sounded like a machine gun. When I typed quickly, I had the urge to duck and cover. It is these little things that live in the customer's mind when they think about your brand and the experience they've had with it.
Self-service and kiosks are powerful tools. You just have to know what you are using them for. To have the greatest chance of success, you must:
Clearly articulate the value to the customer. What will they get from using the kiosk?
Understand what business objectives you are trying to achieve. Create clear metrics for success and monitor and tweak your deployment to achieve those.
Include employees in the deployment and ensure they understand why it is good for them.
Remember that this is a touch point with your brand, and you want users to leave with a positive experience that is aligned with your brand.
Sheridan Orr is the Managing Partner of the Interrobang! Agency, a consulting firm specializing in brand experiences. She has a decade of experience in consumer behaviors, brands, technology and design. Her passion is in crafting engaging and connected customer experiences.