The pandemic has driven substantial changes in industries worldwide, including an increasing dependence on the technology of self-service kiosks.
Kiosks aren’t new. Canadian businesses have been using them for decades to automate customer transactions, streamline operations, and improve security. Since the onset of the pandemic, however, many businesses have increased their investments in kiosks for a variety of purposes, including wayfinding, vending, check-in, dispensing, and point-of-sale.
According to the 2021 Canadian Kiosk Market Report published by SCI and Signifi, this increase is especially apparent in the healthcare and public sectors, with 44% and 57% of workers, respectively, reporting an increase in investment since 2019.
The amplified interactions of self-service technologies during the pandemic has, consequently, led to increased comfort levels both for consumers and employees. Users and organizations alike are coming to understand the value that kiosks add when it comes to everyday applications such as self-checkout, interactive maps, vending machines and employee check-in.
Beyond the need to lean more heavily on technology during the pandemic, businesses have discovered a multitude of reasons to invest in kiosks. In fact, the key business drivers for investing in kiosks in the short term are all about people.
According to the report, the primary motivator for investing in self-service technologies is customer and employee satisfaction, with 63% of businesses identifying this as a top driver. Other important drivers include reduced wait times, better customer flow, increased productivity and lower costs. From the user’s perspective, the most notable benefit of investing in kiosks is convenience, followed by fast transactions and better access to information.
Additional opportunities presented by kiosks might be less apparent, such as compliance, particularly as it relates to accessibility. For example, self-service technologies are being increasingly deployed to help new Canadians, seniors or people with disabilities to access services. These may include language translation, large-text options for those with visual impairments, and text to speech.
Additionally, organizations are looking at kiosk applications that support scalable solutions and enable business growth, such as secure storage, equipment access, inventory control and cash management.
There’s been an important shift in how automation is perceived by business. It has evolved from being driven by the need for operational efficiency into a tool for transforming the customer experience. Kiosks are no longer being viewed as machines replacing people; they’re now seen as a way to let humans to do what they do best, which is helping others and solving complex problems.
While the pandemic has played a key role in heightened interest and investment in the self-service space, there are no signs of this growth slowing down. In fact, 77% of organizations state that kiosk technology will be important to their business strategies in the next five years.
Organizations are experiencing this shift and are including kiosk technology in their digital transformation plans. Expect them to accelerate such efforts as revenue and activity ramp up in the remainder of 2021 and beyond.
Peter Collier is vice president, technology, at SCI Group.
Timely, incisive articles delivered directly to your inbox.