Introduction The implementation of Self-service technology is rapidly increasing among industries and affects the way customer interacts with firms to enhance service outcomes. This proliferation of SST has grown in many positive ways between consumers and businesses for example almost half of all retail banking transactions are now conducted without the assistance of a bank teller (Lawrence and Karr, 1996). In this assignment, the author will introduce self-service technologies in retailing and how it works for the digital print photo kiosk.
There will be a discussion related to its pros, cons and characteristics; highlight of its role for retailers; identification of current trends in technology retailing. Interacting with Self-service technology (SST) is daily occurrence in our daily lives – when students are accessing their school account via personal lap tops, topping up the credits in the EZ-link cards for public transport or even going through online stores for Christmas shopping. Retailers can answer customer enquiries over the phone, sell items over the internet and even hotel’s automated room service ordering systems.
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SST is defined as technological interfaces that allow customers to perform entire services on their own, without direct assistance from employees. It eases the work load by having selected actions automated. This can be an online or offline system. Technological interfaces enable companies to delight their customers instantly by allowing them to solve their problems using technology (Bitner et al. , 2002). There is a proliferation of healthcare advice and information online (over 20,000 sites on the Web offer some level of health information and/or advice), and medical prescriptions can be ordered online as well.
In the business-to-business realm, some companies have been very successful in shifting to a technology-driven ordering system combined with the capability of customers to track and manage their orders and inventories online for themselves. For example, over 25 percent of all of General Electric Company’s resin sales are handled through its GEPolymerland Web site, and 95 percent of those online orders go directly into the information management system without human intervention. There are four primary types of SST as described (Hsieh, 2005): 1.
Telephone & interactive voice response (IVR) systems – Many companies employ this form of SST for customer orders, customer billing inquiries, and customer surveys. Banks, insurance companies, Credit card companies, pizza restaurants, companies also use IVR services to extend their business hours to 24/7 operations. 2. Interactive freestanding kiosks – Many malls and retail outlets offer these both inside and outside their stores as a way to assist you in determining availability of a product, as well as to where to locate it in their facility.
Kiosk at airports and hotels that print airline tickets and allow for efficient checkout and also offers printing of receipts. The digital print photo kiosk which will be focused later belongs to this category. 3. Internet based or other on-line connection systems – ATM’s and AXS machines are two widely used examples of on-line technologies used in Singapore. There are more than 750 AXS machines in Singapore and are used by consumers to pay bills and fines, access the latest on-line information, e-commerce, other payment services and telecommunications services. Package delivery services also allow you to track packages 24 hours a day now. . Video/DVD/CD based technologies – This form of SST is commonly used for educational purposes. Corporate organizations use this media to train their employees, to familiarize sales representatives with new products, and to introduce new products to consumers. In the meantime, firms aim to fulfil at least one of the 3 primary goals when they decide to implement SST into their business. 1) Customer service – by using technology to free up human resources firms can save cost in the long run on services and also offer as multi-channel outlets for customers, like for example basic online troubleshooting system of devices. ) Enabling direct transactions – customers order, buy, and exchange resources with the firm without needing any direct interaction with the firm’s employees. These form of SST includes: online shopping, automated kiosks like the Photo Kiosk, online stock trading and online movie ticket purchases on Goldenvillage. com. 3) Educational – enable customers to educate and train themselves. This form of SST include phone based automated information hotline and informational web sites. For example informational videos as seen on AXS machines. Why organizations are embracing SSTs at a rapid rate? The most significant advantage is that organizations benefit from the reduction of labour costs: an entire call completed by an IVR system as compared to hiring a human personnel for the job is cheaper in the long run, the costly part is only the installation of SST. * Increase customer satisfaction and loyalty: In some cases, customers demand the technology-based alternative and will demonstrate their displeasure by going to a competitor if it is not provided. And, if the new technology solution is viewed as better in some way than the previous interpersonal alternative, customer satisfaction can actually increase. Targeting of new consumer segments: SSTs are introduced as means to provide multi-channel retailing. Traditionally, companies could only target geographic regions, but with SSTs and especially web-based SSTs, allow companies to dramatically expand customer base to worldwide. It has been proven that consumers like to be offered multiple channels in retailing (Marcel, De yong and Ruyter, 2006) As evident, the implementation of SST into retailing has overwhelming advantages but there are many factors to take note before any company plans to successfully introduce SST to their consumers.
Here are the considerations; • Quality of the products • Services offered by the organizations and firms • Cost of the product • Presentation of the services • Design of the SST • The SST’s ability for service recovery (even if caused by the customer), • The way the firm promotes/advertises the SST, • The way the firm manages and prevents SST failures, • Alternate choices for the same service (offered by the firm or competitors), • The firm’s ability to keep the SST updated and to continuously improve the SST
Not all products offered can be replace with the the SST channel, there are products out there that is preferred to have interpersonal selling, like for example purchasing of high involvement goods. These are the types of goods that is best purchased in physical stores and is hardly successful if handled completely via online portal. This is because consumers need to physically experience the goods in order to make that decision. Customers liked SST’s that bailed them out of immediate or troubling For example, a single parent with a sleeping child in the carn eeds to get gas and money in order to get to work the following morning.
Allowing the child to remain sleeping (but not having to leave the child), the parent uses a pay-at-the-pump gas machine and then the drive-up ATM. They are better than the interpersonal alternative. Customers love SSTs that save them time or money, or provide them with easy access—better than personal service can. Many retail, banking, and information Internet sites fit the bill here. Customers can do their banking, shop, and research healthcare needs at midnight if they wish—often completing their transactions quicker than they could in person or over the telephone.
They work! Some customers are still in awe of what technology can do for them. In our research, one customer told us of being extremely impressed when the cheese he ordered from a Wisconsin Web site actually arrived as promised and he was billed accurately. It is amazing that something so mundane could be so impressive. Customers dislike and avoid SSTs when they fail. In our research, we found case after case of failure to perform. The largest percentage of negative stories we heard stemmed from a failure of the SST. Machines were broken.
Web sites were down, personal identification numbers failed to work, and items were not shipped as promised. Hence, customer dissatisfaction with SSTs arose from both failure of the technology during the initial encounter with the SST as well as failure that occurred later in the service delivery process. While customers appreciate the convenience and easy access of SSTs, all of these advantages are suddenly lost when SSTs fail, and most often the customer is forced to return to more conventional service delivery options. They are poorly designed.
Even when they work, customers are often frustrated by poorly designed technologies that are difficult to use or understand. Frequently, they decide that the hassle of using these poorly designed technologies is not worth it, returning to the conventional delivery option. The customer messes up. In our research, in a small number of cases, we found customers willing to admit that they were at fault when things went wrong with an SST—e. g. , they lost their pin number or password or they failed to provide information as requested.
However, even when customers are at fault, they at least partially blame the firm and may still decide to avoid the SST next time they need the particular service. A major finding of our research is that service recovery systems are almost nonexistent for SSTs. In most cases, when the process or technology fails, there is no way to recover on the spot. Typically customers are forced to call or to come in person to have their problem dealt with. They hate this because it is exactly what they were trying to avoid. Self-service technology: Self service Kiosk
Utilizing kiosks, retailers can deliver fast and customized services and provide convenient shopping experiences (Meuter et al. , 2000; Walker et al. , 2002). Consumers can pick-up pre-ordered drugs through kiosks even after the store is closed. At a supermarket, using a self check-out kiosk, customers can conveniently pay for the merchandise without standing in a long waiting line. Customers can order food and beverages through kiosks located at their table in a restaurant. In a deli store, when the order is ready, customers then can receive a text message to their cell phone letting them know to pick up their order.
Kiosks also can provide information for products (the image, price, availability, and location) and stores (location and operation hours). Some kiosks feature information pull-up systems using key words or conditions (Murphy, 2008). Supermarkets can offer unique information such as health content and recipes using stand-alone kiosks (Murphy, 2007). However, adopting kiosks does not necessarily result in a positive outcome. Uncomfortable feelings toward technology, lack of human interactions, risks of service failure and employee resentment are often cited as the downside of SSTs (Curran et al. 2003). Probably, because of the problems, only about a half of consumers expressed their satisfaction with this self-service experience (Alcock and Millard, 2006). Individuals’ tendency in using a new technology was an important driver in behavioral intentions toward SSTs (Lin and Hsieh, 2006). Lack of human interaction is another problem of SSTs, which may be more significant in a high-service-context business such as hotels. Hotel guests felt kiosks were useful but felt employee service was more important (Beatson et al. , 2006).
It may be because the guests prefer personal contact in relating room conditions or services. Actually, just 10 to 25% of hotel guests use kiosks to check-in or out when it is available (Stellin, 2006). Employees’ support is also important in the use of self check-out kiosks in a supermarket (Anitsal and Paige, 2006). That is, coordinated human interactions are essential for the successful operation of retail kiosks (Rowley, 1995). Well-trained employees can provide quick and effective assistance when customers have problems while using kiosks.
In this way, retailers can reduce possible service failure in the use of kiosks. Digital Print photo kiosks are found mostly in photo printing outlets by Kodak and are located in most retail shopping centres. They offer printing of lab quality pictures in seconds from digital cameras storage cards, USB thumb drives and bluetooths imaging enabled cell phones. The consumer-friendly touch screen lets consumers preview, select and print the exact digital images they want and zoom, crop, adjust brightness and reduce red eye to create exceptional quality borderless 4×6-inch pictures in seconds.
The kiosks also allow consumers to save their digital images and create “digital negatives” on a KODAK Picture CD. There are future developments on providing pictures and movies into DVDs . This service can replace interpersonal interactions as the service provided can be automated and does not need human intervention; even if it is needed, the kiosks are installed in photo printing retail outlets where staff will be there to help in times of need. With the proliferation of digital cameras, this kiosk has become a need to help speed up the process of picture printing.
Recently in 2011, Kodak introduced social network connectivity at the kiosk in. Since that time, consumers have embraced this new connected solution, and retailers around the world are rapidly connecting their Kodak Picture Kiosks to this new medium. By the end of the year, more than 30,000 Kodak Picture Kiosks around the world will have this capability, according to the release. Kodak is hosting Free Kodak Prints Week Oct. 17-23, allowing customers to print photos from their Facebook accounts free directly from a Kodak Picture Kiosk. In conclusion,
Self-service technologies are emerging in retailing; kodak have adopted photo kiosks to produce better customer services. Theses kiosks for retail applications are currently successful. After researching, it is concluded that its success was based on the following factors: 1) Interface design: well designed interface which is functional and easy to use; 2) Accessibility: visible location for easy access; 3) Employee readiness: trained and motivated employees can be an alternative should the user is lost at using the technology. 4) Fulfillment: fast delivery with no failures.
References Bitner, Mary; Ostrom, Amy; and Neuter, Natthew (2002). “Implementing Successful Self-service Technologies,” Academy of Management Executive, November, Vol. 16 Issue 4, pp. 96-109. Bitner, Mary (2001) “Self-Service Technologies: What Do Customer’s Expect? ” Marketing Management, Spring, Vol. 10 Issue 1, pp. 10-11. Neuter, Hatthew L. ; Ostrom, Amy L. ; Roundtree, Robert I. , and Bitner, Mary. (2000). “Self-Service Technologies: Understanding Customer Satisfaction with Technology-Based Service Encounters,” Journal of Marketing, July, Vol. 64, Issue 3, pp. 50-64.
Curran, James; Meuter, Matthew; and Surprenant, Carol (2003) “Intentions to Use Self-Service Technologies: A Confluence of Multiple Attitudes,” Journal of Service Research, February, Vol. 5 Issue 3, pp. 209-224. Parasuraman, A. (2002), “Technology Readiness Index (TRI): A Multi-Item Scale to Measure Readiness to Embrace New Technologies”, Journal of Service Research, 2 (4), 307-320. Bitner, Mary; Ostrom, Amy; and Neuter, Natthew (2005). “Choosing among Alternative Service Delivery Modes: An Investigation of Customer Trial ofSelf-Service Technologies” The Journal of Marketing, Vol. 69, No. 2 (Apr. , 2005), pp. 61-83