You see it everywhere — at malls, train stations, airports, and even in your local convenience stores. Self-service kiosk as a transaction system is gaining popularity among consumers today because of the convenience that comes with it. It’s basically a checkout lane that they get to use on their own, with zero outside help needed. Whether that’s a good thing or not depends on who’s talking.
So consumers apparently love it. That’s great. But the question that often gets sidelined here is, do businesses love it, too? To be fair, yes, most entrepreneurs adore the idea of setting up a small booth for independent customers. However, only a very few of them actually take the idea seriously and deploy their own self-service kiosks. What happened to the larger majority? Below is a list of what probably discouraged them.
- Expenses are high.
Small businesses just cant afford the bills. Both the hardware and software used for installing a self-service kiosk are very costly, especially if the kiosk has a touchscreen feature. Business owners that are on a tight budget really can’t venture into this type of endeavor yet. The list of expenses just go on and on, even after installation. Maintenance charges are high, especially since the system is automated. It’s a suicide mission for business owners who don’t have the money, the experience, and the stamina to set up a self-service kiosk — but it’s mostly about the money, really.
- Transactions are limited.
Self-service kiosks are pre-programmed to execute commands only to a certain extent. Complicated transactions are usually not supported. This means that employees still need to oversee the transaction in case customers have concerns that the kiosk cannot address. This scenario, as you can imagine, is counter-productive for the employees’ part. Instead of focusing their time and energy to other productive things, they instead spend their time doing something that a kiosk is supposedly built for.
The biggest critics of the self-service kiosk are the customers who relish special attention and emotional connections but can’t have either because they’re dealing with machines.
- Maintenance can be a hassle.
No one can control who uses a self-service kiosk. It stands vulnerable to everyone who dares touch the screen and press the buttons. This makes the kiosk prone to abuse and vandalism by people who don’t know how to take care of public utilities (that means all of us). Consequently, the business owners who deployed the kiosk take money from their pockets to fix the overused machine, because if they don’t, that hump of cash they spent to set it up in the first place would be all for nothing. If only there was another way — but we are far from the age where artificial intelligence is the norm and machines can fix themselves. So money goes down the drain again.
- Customer difficulties are common.
Let’s face it — we pride ourselves to live in the technological era, yet many of us are still not techie enough to use a kiosk without being intimidated by its large screen and rounded buttons. Although the designers and engineers put a lot of commitment to make the thing more customer-friendly, some people still can’t fully embrace it. Employees who are deployed to the kiosk station are perpetually called to provide assistance to customers who need clarification for the meanings of particular terms, or explanations about what certain commands do. Let alone those buttons. It appears that to a significant group, self-service kiosks are just too stressful to handle.
- Personal interaction is limited.
For some people, personal interactions are important no matter how small or random they are. The biggest critics of the self-service kiosk (aside from the bitter business owners who lost tons of money operating one) are the customers who relish special attention and emotional connections but can’t have either because, surprise surprise, they’re dealing with machines. As incredulous as it sounds, it’s true. Customers want to be treated special. They want proper attention from customer service representatives. A machine spouting out commands to them in a robotic voice is the last thing they need in a world where they’re treated like everybody else. (PA)