Paradigm Shift Needed In Self Service

March 16, 2010
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Airlines force you to self service kiosks, retailers make their kiosks look enticing, & financial institutions leverage the security of the ATM to transact. In an endeavor that started a few years ago, businesses have been trying to migrate low value transactions & low value consumers to self service devices. The idea here was that a self service device was less expensive and did well to take care of the low value consumer, leaving the ‘better’ channels to serve the more affluent consumer.

The same thing holds true for email marketing. Early investment in email was made to ensure that this lower cost channel took care of the masses leaving the ‘special’ / ‘human’ channels for higher value consumers.

What is happening instead is that the higher value consumers are looking for consistent transactions and therefore spending more time on self service devices. They are skipping the ‘line’ or the opportunity to converse with ‘live’ agents and trying to do things themselves. Unfortunately, many businesses did not think about this and consequently their self service devices offer the most basic



Airlines force you to self service kiosks, retailers make their kiosks look enticing, & financial institutions leverage the security of the ATM to transact. In an endeavor that started a few years ago, businesses have been trying to migrate low value transactions & low value consumers to self service devices. The idea here was that a self service device was less expensive and did well to take care of the low value consumer, leaving the ‘better’ channels to serve the more affluent consumer.

The same thing holds true for email marketing. Early investment in email was made to ensure that this lower cost channel took care of the masses leaving the ‘special’ / ‘human’ channels for higher value consumers.

What is happening instead is that the higher value consumers are looking for consistent transactions and therefore spending more time on self service devices. They are skipping the ‘line’ or the opportunity to converse with ‘live’ agents and trying to do things themselves. Unfortunately, many businesses did not think about this and consequently their self service devices offer the most basic functionality without the ability to engage the higher value consumer.

Social Media makes this change even more dramatic as consumers of all kinds – ‘low & high value,’ converge onto social media sites sharing their opinion, and asking their peers for information.

Most businesses are trying to react to this by creating special shorter lines for self service channels where the higher value consumer is invited to transact. They are also assigning representatives to monitor what high value consumers are saying on social media channels. These in my humble opinion are bandage solutions and largely ineffective in solving bigger issues. These are bad experiences, they are not intuitive, they are cumbersome, & worse yet – they are disconnected across channels.

Instead, business should look to empower their self service devices with access to more information, allow the machine to personalize the transaction with the consumer, and create a systematic cross channel dialogue in real time.

Remember, if the consumers experience is intuitive, takes less time, & solves their basic needs it now allows the business to engage the consumer in a more relevant dialogue based on the consumers preferences.

Human channels have always been used to resolve problems. Consider arming both humans and ‘droids’ (your self service devices) with a simple user interface, access to cross channel information, & the power to serve their fellow humans. This paradigm shift is really needed in self service. Getting there is not easy, there are a few businesses that have started investing in both a strategy and taking quick small steps.

Like you can see in the ad above, if the ATM know you better and saves you time – you can probably trust it to do a whole lot more. And more so you will now trust the financial institution to serve you even better. Bottom line – to be successful, this is what you need to drive interaction in 2011.

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