The recent rise of self-service solutions to a pivotal factor of in-store customer experience

Starting in 2017, the rapid adoption of self-service kiosks in the quick service restaurant industry and the advent of Amazon’s retail stores changed the playing field for self-service technology (SST) in retail. Recent market research shows that it is no longer a question of whether customers are willing to accept self-service solutions. The question rather is, whether stores without modern technology will soon be stores without customers. The change is happening quickly and decisively, rendering traditional industries vulnerable to disruption. If you are not already thinking about implementing self-service technology, it is time to act. Now.

 

Consumers have changed

You might still recall being able to readily skip the lines during occasional visits at a McDonald's by using self-service kiosks or mobile orders back in 2017. Now in late 2018, you’ll mostly find rather odd people ordering directly with the sales personal at the same restaurant. Or maybe they are just smartly adapting to the new patterns, because that is the best way to skip the line at the self-service kiosks now. This personal experience is strongly supported by recent market research. Data taken from a SOTI survey conducted 2018 in the US, UK, Europe and Australia highlights the acceptance and adoption of SSTs:

  • 80 percent of UK consumers would be comfortable with retail stores only offering self-checkout.
  • 76 percent of US consumers think they have a better in-store experience when technology is integrated.
  • 65 percent consider self-checkout to be the most important SST.
  • 52 percent of Australian consumers prefer retail stores that offer self-service solutions making purchases faster and easier.

 

Immediacy is the driving factor

One underlying principle behind those developments is the importance of immediacy for retail. According to SOTI for 64 percent of the consumers buying a product then and there is the main motivation to visit a brick-and-mortar store.

Accordingly, in-store technology that saves time and automates the purchasing process is readily accepted and retailers need to understand that in-store technology is no longer in its infancy. Not integrating these innovations, is putting them at a competitive disadvantage.

 

Self-service in telco retail

Much like the banking sector, telco retail is characterized by complex industry specific processes and customer interactions. However, while the banking industry has pioneered the widespread use of SSTs and many bank branches nowadays are dominated by self-service machines or even manage operations completely without local staff, the telco industry still is very focused on personal interaction. Service hotlines, online chats and sales assistants in local telco retail stores dominate the customer interaction.

Despite this effort customer satisfaction in the telco industry is notoriously low. A recent test (October 2018) conducted by the “Stiftung Warentest” rated the service quality of German telecom providers as generally poor, regardless of contact channel used. Even more alarming is the attitude of customers towards their telco providers revealed by the BIO Agency in a UK survey done in 2017. 

Telco companies are placed last for delivering a service that meets customer needs and are mostly seen as a utility provider.

 

Source: BIO Agency, 2017

 

Considering these developments, we strongly think that there is more potential for self-service solutions in the telecom industry than which is currently utilized. Potential not only:

  • to speed up and automate processes for the clients,
  • but also allowing them to browse and interact at their own speed and leisure.

Failing to adapt will open up the sector to disruption from fast moving competitors from outside and inside the industry, because other industries have shown, that consumers in 2018 are finally ready for self-service.

 

Sources:

Stiftung Warentest: Kein guter Service bei Telefon- und Internetanbietern, Telekom Handel, 2018, 
https://www.telecom-handel.de/consumer-communications/carrier/guter-service-telefon-internetanbietern-1584829.html

The ‘Connected’ Associate, SOTI Whitepaper, 2017

Telco Customer Loyalty: Apathy or Advocacy?, BIO Agency, 2017, 
https://www.thebioagency.com/news-and-views/blog/new-bio-research-says-telco-companies-need-to-transform-to-survive/

How to Enhance Retail Customer Experience with Digital Signage and Self-Service Kiosks, Mainstreet Inc., 2018, 
https://mainstreetinc.net/2018/03/29/enhance-retail-customer-experience-digital-signage-self-service-kiosks/

Impact of self-service technology (SST) service quality on customer loyalty and behavioral intention: The mediating role of customer satisfaction, Muhammad Shahid Iqbal, 2017

Stephan Berger

Written by Stephan Berger

Working as a Content Strategist at NTS Retail, Stephan is in constant pursuit of the quest to bring our product vision to life with interesting pieces of content. A technology enthusiast and a passionate writer, he enjoys picking his coworkers' brains and distilling their expertise into succinct copy, making the stacked expertise at NTS Retail accessible to an audience of peers and colleagues.