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The Top 5 Retail Self-Service Technologies

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Welcome to the Future of Self-Service Technology 

A grueling airline issue this week led to the question, are we happy with the growing global customer service trend of speaking primarily with computers?

According to a just issued MIT Sloan study, there are substantial differences between management and actual customer perspectives on new self-service technologies:

  • Self-service technologies are often implemented with the expectation that customers want to use them and will happily explore them. In reality, however, many customers are hesitant to use a new self-service technology, especially if it departs from the existing script of how the service is supposed to progress....Customers want a safety net in case a failure occurs, we found, and they explicitly want an employee to be available.
  • Customers noted that the convenience of a self-service technology significantly affected the accuracy of a transaction; managers, on the other hand, rated the influence of convenience as significantly less important to accuracy. Both the virtual and the physical convenience of a self-service technology play a major role in the customer's comfort and confidence. 
  • Speed of transaction has the strongest influence on satisfaction of customers, while managers rated it significantly less important.

Self-Service Market / Top 5 Retail Solutions

Driven by retail, banking, and healthcare, the global self-service technology market will reach $31.75 billion by 2020, a 13.98% CAGR during the forecast period.

Retail shoppers agree that stores equipped with self-service technologies improve the shopping experience.  The top 5 favorite consumer self-service solutions include:

  • Price checker stations - 67%
  • Electronic shelf labels  - 58%
  • Self-checkout - 58%
  • Product information kiosks - 56%
  • Smart cart with built in scanning - 51%

Successful Self-Service Technology Adoption

The future of retail will increasingly be self-service.  Key lessons for successful adoption:

  1. Consumer sectors are fragmenting worldwide. One self-service solution may not fit all and may even upset your best customers. Spend the time up front assessing the impact on customer service.
  2. Understand the balance between cost cutting and improving the customer experience. Favor investments that drive customer feedback engagement. 
  3. Expect an eventual backlash to technology being the primary customer interface. Expect competitors to create business models that have more intimate customer engagement solutions. 
  4. Onmichannel strategies will require increased leverage of technology.  Every screen is a moment of truth with your customer. Simplicity with the conversation is a critical success component. 
  5. Force all key executives to personally experience any new customer self-service technology. All of us shop and are consumers.  If you are not happy with the new solution, look in the mirror. 

Lots of questions post the three day lost luggage in the wilderness airline technology experience this week. Are we happy with the growing self-service technology society? Can technology alone fully deliver customer intimacy? What's the appropriate balance between self-service technology and direct customer interaction? Will we ever be content speaking only to a computer? What do you think?

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