05 May Technology spurs great service, full service, and self-service.
The phrase “full service” used to mean a gas station where attendants would fill your tank, check your fluids, and clean your windshield. Today, it means that a bank provides you with a wide range of alternatives to seeing a local teller – things like Internet banking, ATM card cards, and telephone-driven interactive voice response (IVR) systems.
We’ve entered the decade of self-service. Customers value the convenience, consistency, and self-control of automated transactions over a friendly smile. Companies value the increased coverage, low cost of operation, and reliability of automating transactions.
According to Robert Goodwin, managing vice president for Gartner, consumers are driven to the self-service kiosks that are available for banking, airport check-in, and other retail transactions because it typically results in a better experience in less time than face-to-face transactions.
“Self service equals control,” Goodwin said. “And what people value most in day-to-day transactions is a sense of control.” It’s common practice for individuals to encounter inexperienced sales people, long lines, and companies that are closed when you want to do business. As a result, opportunities to conduct transactions online, or using self-service kiosks have become a welcome alternative to most consumers.
Self-service technology comes in a variety of flavors for companies to consider:
The big daddy of self-service. CRM-savvy companies let customers order products, make reservations, buy tickets and find customer support answers online.
An effective point of sale weapon. Ideal for making transactions more efficient and for providing a high level of customized pre-sale information to prospective customers. Transactional kiosks are best separated from informational kiosks. You don’t want customers waiting in line with their checkbook behind someone who’s browsing.
A big solution for small data. Interactive Voice Response (IVR) works well in situations where small amounts of data are gathered to deliver small amounts of data. For example, provide your telephone number to learn the status of your order. Note: IVR isn’t the same as voice mail. It doesn’t require talking to anyone or getting a call back.
Self-service technologies continue to expand and improve and costs have come down for many. In fact, self-service technologies typically show a return on investment (ROI) within the first year of implementation.
As terms like “full service” and “self service” become synonymous; related technologies such as wi-fi and broadband become commonplace; and, tech-savvy consumers increase their demands for convenience the opportunities and growth for self-service technology seems limitless.
Perhaps, that is why Gartner has identified self-service technology a megatrend for at least the next three years.
Troy Janisch is president and founder of the Icon Interactive Group (www.iconinteractive.com), an industry leader helping companies integrate Internet and other Interactive media into sales channels, marketing strategies, and overall branding. He can be contacted by email at email@example.com.
The opinions expressed herein or statements made in the above column are solely those of the author, & do not necessarily reflect the views of Wisconsin Technology Network, LLC. (WTN). WTN, LLC accepts no legal liability or responsibility for any claims made or opinions expressed herein.