The rise of the self-service economy
The impact of technology
Self-service kiosks are customer-facing devices with a touch screen, allowing them to make payments, access information, or check in at an airport. Customers handle simple interactions more and more independently – for example, ordering food at a restaurant.
The pandemic accelerated the acceptance and use of self-services across industries. According to Mckinsey and Company, 79% of consumers will continue or even increase the use of self-service methods such as self-check-out in stores.
Technology offers benefits such as limiting human interaction, reducing waiting times, and improving customer service. Self-service tools require investment up-front but can save time and resources. The market is growing and is expected to surpass the $30.3 billion mark by 2026.
Technologies continuously evolve, making self-service systems more secure, efficient, and convenient, benefitting consumers and businesses. Self-service devices have a different look and feel across industries. Freestanding kiosks are recognisable in a large space, even from a distance.
Smaller technology, such as tablets, is popular in retail areas and restaurants, creating a streamlined customer experience. Clear and consistent messaging helps the visitor or customer to understand the flow step-by-step.
By entering data directly into the kiosk, there is less chance of error and miscommunication. Interactive self-service kiosks have hardware and software components that must work together to provide an excellent customer experience.
With AI, machines learn from interactions, enabling them to perform complex tasks over time. Self-service kiosks generate enormous amounts of data. Using that data for improvement, kiosks can communicate more with users and optimise problem-solving, meeting the needs of retailers and other businesses.
Artificial intelligence can recognise shoppers, create a profile, and tailor promotions to the customers in store. Vision systems track customers and their selected products as they move between the aisles, making it a difficult environment for shoplifters.
Will kiosks replace staff?
While cashier-less retail stores are no exception, decreased human interaction can harm customers and workers. Self-service doesn’t fully replace but supplements staff. Businesses will need team members to assist with issues; customers like to see a friendly face when they walk in.
Kiosks help run the front of the house but require supervision and maintenance. Self-service machines cannot replace employees when a customer has a question or needs technical assistance. During peak hours at a restaurant, orders flood the kitchen. Staff will need to prep food and bus tables.
Supply chain issues will continue to create demands for automated customer-facing resources, for example, a kiosk displaying the stock of products. Another effect of the pandemic is the shift from face-to-face services to online. Directing consumers to automated resources enables businesses to assist with complex issues at any time without spending time on repetitive tasks.
According to Gartner’s 2022 Customer Service Trends and Priorities research, 74% of respondents consider self-service channels essential.
The many applications of self-service solutions
Self-service kiosks are available in many different configurations and capacities. Services range from self-check-in offering general information to financial services.
Public buildings can house many visitors. Kiosks help people keep track of opening times and lay-out of the area, high-traffic locations, and directory.
Kiosks allow visitors and staff to sign in using a touch screen without needing assistance, saving reception staff valuable time.
Governmental buildings see large volumes of individuals every day. Before visiting a professional, visitors can perform administration tasks themselves. Entering personal details, license plate number, and other relevant information eliminates steps, leaving more staff capacity to verify the entered data and validate a new license plate or driver’s license.
Busy offices require continuous access control and monitoring of who walks in and out of the building. A visitor self-registration device can be used unsupervised in a lobby, helping visitors take a picture and generate a photo ID to tap in and out.
Hotels can use kiosks for room reservations and self-check-in. Deploying such a self-service system works for guests as they can come and go as they please without ringing the bell at the reception desk. The automation makes it easier for hotel staff to track which rooms are occupied or require housekeeping.
It’s called fast food for a reason. Self-service technology helps restaurants process high volumes of customers.
By automating the order process, companies can serve more people and increase revenue while customers enjoy a meal served fast.
Self-check-out in supermarkets
Supermarkets create an efficient shopping experience through SST technology. Customers scan and pay for their purchases without needing a cashier. Self-check-out terminals can save time, enabling the employees to get additional tasks done like stocking shelves. Retailers can be hesitant to implement self-service systems as there is a greater risk of theft, especially when using paperless terminals.
Airport kiosks can be used for multiple purposes. Airports tend to be quite large, creating a need for way finders and flight information in all areas. Allowing self-check-in and luggage drop-off frees up ground staff to cater to passengers’ needs and enhances security.
Healthcare facilities should run efficiently. Patients should have a rapid method of contacting medical staff and a smooth registration process for planned surgery and appointments. Checking in via a kiosk allows patients privacy as they don’t have to share their medical history out loud. At the same time, a self-service system helps the hospital to track individual patients and their progress.
Automation at traditional institutes such as banks allows employees to focus on added-value tasks and complex questions or tasks. Cashing checks, withdrawing, and depositing can all be done without asking for assistance or waiting in a long line. The Automated Teller Machine (ATM) is one of the first applications of the self-service revolution.
Types of self-service kiosks
Today’s landscape sees a multitude of terminals catering to different industries in many configurations. Kiosks ensure a quick and easy exchange of interaction between customers and services. Heavy foot traffic areas require upkeep and improvements, ensuring that automation performs at high standards.
Freestanding kiosks are large and prominent, making them a not-to-miss step for customers. These models serve various applications, from information kiosks to point-of-sale terminals in retail stores.
Mount kiosks are usually much smaller than freestanding ones and work best for a limited amount of space when compared to a freestanding kiosk. This type of kiosk is used in public transportation stations and will give users the advantage of having a fully interactive experience without wasting any space.
Biometrics unleashes the power of self-service
Biometric technology enhances security while offering convenience to users. Kiosks help with a wide range of ID control applications. Technology advances and biometric identification measures will soon be included in daily life applications.
Design is everywhere and essential in self-service kiosks. When deploying self-service terminals, knowing who will use them and for what purpose is crucial. Accessibility is critical; visually impaired people may have issues using iris scanners or fingerprint readers. People with hearing problems may be unable to follow instructions guided by audio. Confused or frustrated people will not use the service again and will likely share their negative experiences with people around them. A seamless user experience is vital in the broad adoption of self-service kiosks.
The kiosk itself should be desirable to use and accessible for all. The use of biometrics plays on the fact that physical and behavioural characteristics make us who we are; they are part of our identity.
Capturing a facial image can be challenging with a fixed scanner.
Speedy software without glitches serves the user a streamlined and straightforward experience. Clear instructions are necessary to guide people through the steps and can be achieved through light indicators and visual and audio assistance.
Access cards, PINs, or keys can be stolen or lost, while biometric identifiers such as the face, fingerprints, and iris are unique and not transferrable. Biometrics enables superior access control while giving users a smooth entry experience.
The self-service applicant kiosk captures documents and biometrics accurately and takes facial images within one minute. The biometric registration terminal is designed for high-traffic locations to reduce wait times and streamline registrations.
Self-service developments for border management
Self-service is crucial for border control. Safety is the priority at border points, and immigration checks should be performed fast with reliable outcomes. With the growing number of travellers, pre-enrolment is essential to avoid long lines at immigration.
Border management is a high priority for the European Union. Millions of people from outside the Schengen Area, Third Country Nationals, cross the external borders yearly. The EU Entry-Exit System, or EES, enables border agencies to access and process travellers centrally.
Each time a passenger crosses an EU external border, the EES digital infrastructure will register data to assess risk and automatically calculate the (remaining) length of stay. Biometric data plays a significant role in the new common database. On entry, four fingerprints and facial recognition will be used. Either one of these is acceptable on exit.
Kiosks are the ultimate solution for optimising airport space, reducing lines at the border checkpoint, and improving the traveller experience. A kiosk can be monitored remotely, resulting in fewer people on the ground. While the traveller performs specific procedures without human interaction, border guards focus on decision-making and added-value activities.
The Traveler S Kiosk instantly captures the required document and biometric data and smoothens the travel experience at airports, seaports, and in-land border points.
The right to a legal identity has been on the human rights agenda since 1948. In 2015, the global community adopted Sustainable Development Goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all. SDG 16.9 states: “provide legal identity for all, including birth registration.” Identification can be a vehicle for developing policies and programs and promoting opportunities to strengthen the economic situation, benefitting governments and citizens.
Biometric technology has taken up a central position in the rollout of identification systems and has expanded the capabilities of existing systems. Fingerprint, face, and iris capture are the standard biometrics used in identification. Enrolling citizens requires accuracy and planning. The method of capturing biometrics should be user-friendly and straightforward, minimising the risk of error.
Available in many configurations, the Identity Kiosk ensures accurate enrolment in (national) ID programs, including an ICAO-compliant image for ID cards and passports.