One is Not Always the Loneliest Number
By Doug Smith
Whenever I’m around my parents and mention accomplishing some task on my own, my mother will typically smirk and remind me of something I (apparently) used to constantly say as a child—“Dougie do it! Dougie do it!” Yes, apparently I yearned for my freedom and autonomy from a very young age. This behavior and mentality has obviously stuck with me through my adult years as I always try to accomplish as much as I can on my own, without asking for anyone’s help (sometimes, admittedly, to my detriment).
But isn’t that the way of the world these days? Aren’t we all shifting more towards isolation and a lack of human interaction, at least at some level? Take ATMs, for example—no need to wait in line at a bank and speak directly with a teller. With a card and a few pushed buttons, you’re well on your way with cash in hand. And who wants to stand in long checkout lanes at the store when you can quickly zip through a self-service checkout in a fraction of the time?
Some quick-serve restaurants and fast-food chains have even jumped on the self-service bandwagon by adding kiosks to their frontline counters. Here customers can create and customize their unique order, pay via credit card, and then take a seat to wait for their order to arrive. Heck, we all probably have a self-service kiosk in our pockets or purses right now—it’s called a smartphone. What better demonstration of accessing and utilizing information and services in an instant and (literally) at your fingertips?
Self-Service is Often Superior to Human Interaction
In a recent article on “4 Reasons Why Self-Service Enhances Customer Experience,” the author, Madeleine Le, points out that self-service is oftentimes superior to interaction with another human being because:
- Self-service is often much faster. Issues of understaffing and the simple ratio of workers to customers can generate minute- to hour-long wait times for given services.
- Self-service empowers customers to take charge in how they use a service. Because of how quickly data is collected and reported (here again—smartphones are a prime example), consumers are able to more quickly adapt their behaviors and lifestyles—ever-personalizing their experiences to fit their changing needs.
- With self-service, there’s less room for error. Studies have shown that utilizing self-service technology increases the accuracy of the transaction or of the data being submitted. Consider a busy, loud restaurant environment where the waiter/waitress strains to hear you place your order. It’s much easier to plug in your order on the tabletop kiosk, is it not? At least this way you can review the details of your order before placing it. Many a QSR drive-thru have adapted this as well—allowing customers to view their order on an LED screen as you place it.
- Self-service creates a more personal experience. Now on the surface, this might appear contradictory. But consider this—most transactions/interactions of a given type typically occur the same way, time after time. How often has the process of buying/checking-out groceries with a human attendant changed over the last Go to the full article.