Not quite self-service

10May12

I needed to print out a few photos, so I headed to the local pharmacy to use one of their photo kiosks. The user interface wasn’t very intuitive, and the touchscreen was in pretty dire need of a recalibration. But those weren’t the most frustrating parts of the experience.

When I got to the point that I was ready to finish my order and print the photos, the kiosk asked for a print code. The message on the screen said that I should locate a store employee to enter the code for me. I tracked someone down, he entered the code, and the prints came out fine. A few minutes later, when I wanted to print photos from a different source, I had to flag down the same employee to re-enter the code.

Now, I can understand why the store might want an employee to authorize large print jobs. But insisting on a code for a mere handful of photos, totaling less than a dollar at a time? That’s just silly, and is clearly a source of frustration for the customer and wasted productivity for the retail staff.

When you think about it, requiring that an employee get involved in every self-service transaction defeats the point of offering self-service in the first place. The whole idea of self-service is to empower customers to complete a task without the time or expense of involving an employee. Sure, you can put safeguards in place, like requiring a code for large or otherwise unusual print jobs, such as in my example. But for the other 95% of transactions, it makes sense to give the customer enough freedom to finish what they intended to do, rather than forcing your employees to babysit every transaction.



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