A self-service kiosk might look like a boon to your business, but if your team doesn’t believe in the benefits your efforts will go nowhere.
Self-service kiosks can offer all sorts of benefits to all types of organizations. Tablet kiosks in retail stores have been shown to increase sales 1, while tablets in a bank or credit union can assist with marketing efforts 2. Check-in kiosks in health care facilities help patients alert staff they’ve arrived for an appointment, while kiosks in a government complex allow visitors to apply for permits and renew licenses and motor vehicle registrations. The list goes on.
Key to the success of any self-service kiosk project is garnering the support of those in the organization where the device will be deployed. A lack of support can make it difficult if not impossible for the kiosk to benefit the organization.
Here are some steps an organization can take to foster buy-in for a kiosk project:
Seek employee feedback
Mundane chores that employees dislike doing, such as filling out patient forms in a clinic or giving directions on a large campus, are tasks that are perfectly suited to a self-service tablet kiosk. Find out what tasks employees dislike doing, and see if any can be moved to a kiosk.
Talk to your staff. If employees feel as is their input is respected, they will be more likely to support a kiosk project.
“Traditionally, the introduction and development of new business ideas is a top-down process beginning at the highest executive levels. Whether the highest level is a corporate board or a single person heading a small firm, this process dismisses a world of possible ideas by excluding all employees. Worse still, this disenfranchises large parts of the company.
In contrast, an open-door policy where employees feel that their ideas are not only heard, but also seriously considered, will create a more diverse ecosystem that enjoys a greater support base."
Curt Moreno in the design newsletter Redshift 3
In addition, be prepared to answer any questions employees have about the project. If they understand what you’re trying to accomplish, they are more likely to offer support.
Assure staff that the goal isn’t to eliminate jobs
Former CKE Restaurants CEO Andrew Puzder made waves in 2016 when he declared his dream was to implement an employee-free restaurant, one where customers ordered and paid at a self-service kiosk and never interacted with a human. 4
Experts in both the restaurant and kiosk industry pushed back on those comments, making the argument that self-service kiosks wouldn’t replace workers, but instead would allow them to move to positions where they could offer a more personalized interaction and improve the customer experience.
"It may change the nature of the jobs in the restaurant, because frankly technology is something that our customers are embracing, whether it’s through their phone or whether through self-order kiosks -- that is a societal trend. We want to adapt to that, but it’s not actually meant as a labor replacement. We can just re-apportion that labor into more service-orientated roles."
Steve Easterbrook, McDonald’s CEO 5
In fact, McDonald’s officials said, sales have increased at restaurants that have incorporated self-order kiosks. At the same time, the chain has also experimented with adding new customer-facing roles like concierges and table service. As a result, those restaurants need more, not fewer, employees.
Showing staff how a kiosk can end up increasing their earnings and job security will go a long way to fostering support.
Educate customers on how to use the kiosks
If staff are constantly interrupted from their regular duties to explain the kiosk’s function to customers, it's more difficult for them to do their jobs. As a result, they may be less likely to support the project.
On the other hand, having a dedicated “kiosk ambassador” for the first few weeks of the rollout to help educate visitors on how to use the devices not only eliminates that issue, but will foster greater use of the kiosks. Once the kiosk concept takes hold with those visitors, you can gradually move those ambassadors to other tasks.
Eventually, staff will come to depend on having those kiosks in place to assist them in doing their jobs.
Keep on top of maintenance
As with all electronic devices, eventually a self-service kiosk is going to need some sort of maintenance. Deployers will likely benefit from having a regular maintenance schedule for its kiosk network as well as a system of remote monitoring to ensure the devices achieve as close to 100 percent uptime as possible.
Allowing a kiosk to be offline for an extended period not only damages customers’ perception of the devices, but the employees’ view of them as well.
There are few things that can breed animosity in an organization as quickly as putting employees in the position of having to apologize to customers for things that are out of their control. If employees continually have to apologize to customers because a kiosk is out of order, it won’t be long before they develop a negative attitude about the project.
Monitor kiosk performance
In most organizations, day-to-day employees are on the front lines of customer interaction and are the ones who offer the best feedback on kiosk performance. Make it easy for those employees to pass that feedback on to project managers, and don’t be so committed to a particular way of doing things that you’re unwilling to make a change. If multiple people point out the same issue with kiosk performance, chances are it’s something that needs to be addressed.
“Listening to your team and acting positively on their good ideas is a sign to them that you respect them and what they do for you in your organization. It also helps you to get valuable information that you need to make your change effort a success.”
Robert Tanner, change management consultant 6
Accept that change is a challenge
It’s only natural for people to fear change in their organization, and keeping employees involved at every step of the process while doing what you can to assuage their concerns will smooth the pathway to success.
At the end of the day, recognizing that employee buy-in for a kiosk project is critical to ensuring your investment delivers the dividends you seek.