McDonald’s recently introduced a new type of ordering system – the ‘Create Your Taste’ kiosk, that allows customers to order via a touchscreen. After placing an order, all customers have to do is sit down and wait for their meal. This kiosk isn’t the first of its kind, however. In Japan, most ramen restaurants have customers order and pay for their meal via a vending machine, again, with the ease of just waiting for their food afterwards.These examples of using machines to expedite the ordering process demonstrates how self-service is replacing the assisted service industry. The self-service industry is rising quickly, with customers preferring to use machines to get their services instead of interacting with an assisted service worker.
So what makes self-service so appealing to customers? Here are four reasons why self-service enhances the way customers engage with your services.
1: Self-service is faster
A problem that customers have when using an assisted service, is that they have to go somewhere to use it and have to wait in line in order to get the service they need. This might be due to the fact that there are not enough assisted service workers to help customers efficiently. This ratio of workers to customers can lead to customers waiting from several minutes to hours for a service that they may need instantly. When they finally get to the booth, customers may not fully be engaged, due to their impatience caused by waiting in line.
One Chase branch next to Grand Central Station in New York is solving this issue using self-service technology. There are no workers in the bank. Instead there is an open area filled with kiosks. These kiosks not only allow customers to get cash, like an ATM, but also allow them to do different tasks, that usually require a bank assistant to help – such as ordering a new debit card. Instead of wasting time waiting for someone to help with these tasks, customers can do these tasks by themselves and get the services they need in a shorter amount of time.
2: Self-service empowers customers to take charge in how they use a service
In today’s marketplace, there are many types of mobile applications that track different aspects of our lives. Health-monitoring applications are one of the most popular types of apps among consumers. But what makes customers download these applications? Wouldn’t they rather use the same methods that health professionals use to take vitals before a doctor’s appointment?
According to Dr. Sean Munson, an associate professor of Human-Centered Design Engineering at the University of Washington, tools that are used by health professionals are either too confusing for customers to use, or the results that are given are simply not helpful to them. Munson finds that people collect their own data in order to easily identify changes and to track how fast they are able to change. By being aware of changes, and how fast data is being collected, customers can take charge in making changes based on the information given to them by the service. This empowerment can lead customers to make quicker and effective changes to their lifestyle that work best for their personal needs.
3: With self-service there’s less room for error
Even well-trained, experienced workers can make mistakes when interacting with the customers. For example, a common mistake that baristas make is mishearing the customer’s order, especially during rush hour, where baristas are trying to serve many customers in a short period of time. Mishearing a customer’s order can lead to orders being mixed up, and increases the number of irritated customers.
However, with self-service, the margin of error shrinks significantly. Sheryl E. Kimes, a professor of operations management at Cornell, and Joel E. Coller, an associate professor of marketing at Mississippi State University, found through surveying several customers who had previously used self-service, that self-service technology increased the accuracy of the transaction. Because the customer is the one in control of the transaction in self-service, the customer does not have to rely on an assisted service worker to make their transactions accurate. By doing it themselves, customers are taking charge of how they are using a service and are less likely to make mistakes when making a transaction.
4: Self-service creates a more personal experience
In the assisted service industry, a “one-size-fits-all” type of approach is used to help customers. All customers are treated exactly the same during transactions, not taking into account the different types of needs that each customer has. For example, some customers may want to skip steps if they feel that they have already done some steps in advance, such as confirming an address, that they had already updated a few days before. Other customers may be in a hurry, and they might feel that the process is too slow for their pace.
Business Insider reports that airlines are quickly learning that a “one-size-fits all” service is something that no longer works best for customers. As a result, airlines have begun to switch to self-service technology for check-ins. One reason behind the switch is that airlines feel that self-service offers more personalized options for the customers, letting customers have full control over what they want their experience to be. Customers can skip steps that they feel they have no need for, such as the number of bags they need to check in. Customers also have the option to check in at home, and then go to the airport to catch their flight, instead of waiting for hours in line at the airport to check in.
Self-service on websites
The same principles apply when customers are on your website. They expect to be able to find answers to their questions immediately, in a short time, without having to call a customer service number. Their experience on the site directly affects the way they perceive your product or brand and even influences their purchase decisions. Most websites have an FAQ section or a help tab that exists to assist customers. But poor design and static content usually ends up alienating customers, forcing them to leave the website and look for other alternatives.
Using AnswerDash your customers can get the self-service experience that they are looking for. AnswerDash uses predictive Q&A technology and offers an object search feature that allows customers to click on parts of the page that they want information about, and see the most frequently asked questions. Customers have the ability to choose how they get the information they want. Instead of waiting for hours on the phone for a representative to answer their personal questions, customers can get instant and relevant answers by themselves. With this personalized contextual approach, customers are more likely to have better engagement with your Q&A, your website and your services.
Schedule a free demo of AnswerDash and see how you can transform the self-service experience for your customers.
Written by Madeleine Le