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The definition of customer service has evolved over time. Historically, great service meant a friendly, helpful personalized experience. With technological advantages and a greater desire for time savings, customers sometimes view efficient buying opportunities as integral to elite service. One strategy to provide an efficient experience for your customers is the addition of self-service kiosks at checkouts.
Reduce Overhead Costs
A major financial advantage for a small business is that you don't need as many cashiers when you offer self-checkout. You typically need someone to monitor the self-service experience and to assist with machine problems or customer frustrations. However, you need only one employee to manage four or six self-service stations instead of one employee per station. You could use the money you save to invest in other services or business development projects.
Satisfy Customer Demands
A primary benefit of offering self-service checkouts is that customers want them, and successful retailers provide what their customers want. A September 2012 "Retail Week" article noted that customers like the efficient payment process of self-checkout and the majority would like to see more stations added. By offering self-service, you provide your rushed customers the chance for a speedy checkout. Your customers who prefer personal engagement can still go through regular checkout lines.
Minimize Wait Times
Waiting in line is a negative experience for a retail store customer. The peak-end rule dictates that the most recent impression a customer forms has significant weight in an overall assessment. Thus, you could have a customer go from satisfied to disgruntled with a long wait in line. With self-checkout, customers who have just a few items don't have to wait in regular checkout lines. Because some of the traffic flows through self-service kiosks, other customers more quickly move through regular staffed lanes.
Attract More Customers
When you have self-service checkouts, you potentially attract business from customers who want efficiency. Movie-rental provider Redbox has built an entire business model on appealing to customers motivated by value and efficiency. You have more appeal to customers looking to quickly grab a few things and go. Although not exactly the same, a convenient in-and-out buying experience in your retail store provides similar benefits to a convenience store purchase.
Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.