Self-service: trend or future?

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In times of online shopping, contactless payment and digitalisation at all levels and in virtually all sectors, the topic of self-service is also becoming increasingly important. Whether it's a supermarket checkout, hotel check-in, farm shop, petrol station, bank branch, library or fast food restaurant: more and more sectors are discovering the advantages of self-service terminals or machines. But what makes self-service so attractive and is it even more than just a trend?

Short and sweet: Yes, self-service is more than just a trend


For decades, we have been dealing with the automation of banking transactions and the transfer of goods - and thus, of course, also with the topic of self-service. In addition to the cost factor, which plays a role for companies in particular, we would like to highlight the advantages for customers with some concrete examples:

Comfort

  • Long queues at the supermarket checkout are a thing of the past. If you only want to run the most necessary errands quickly, you can scan and pay for them yourself at a self-service checkout.

  • Similar advantages are offered by a SB terminal in fast food restaurants: The nerve-racking wait behind customers who cannot decide on a dish is a thing of the past.

24/7 availability

  • It's Sunday afternoon and a visitor is on the way. A glance in the cupboard reveals the approaching tragedy: the coffee tin is empty. How fortunate that the SB shop around the corner has the most necessary articles of daily use in its assortment - including biscuits and cakes to go with the coffee.

  • The fuel gauge is pointing towards zero, but the gas station has long since closed? Most petrol stations have vending machines that allow refuelling at any time of the day or night. In general, petrol stations have been pioneers in self-service, making life easier for their customers.

More examples of areas where self-service has already been successfully introduced

  • Airports: Passengers can check in and print out their boarding pass on their own at the check-in counter.

  • Libraries: Many libraries offer the possibility to borrow or return books from vending machines.

  • Fitness studios: Using a club card or chip, studio members have access to the training area at any time (or during defined opening hours) - even if there is no fitness instructor on site.

  • Ski resorts: In addition to the sales counters, many ski resorts have ticket machines where ski tickets can be purchased - usually even at cheaper rates than at the counter.

A prerequisite for the acceptance of self-service solutions - regardless of the sector - is easy and intuitive use. This must be ensured at all costs. Otherwise, there will inevitably be problems with use and, subsequently, rejection of the machines. Structured operating elements, intuitive process steps and barrier-free use (especially for people with visual or hearing impairments) are essential factors for the success of a self-service solution.

Self-service has found its way into our everyday lives. Whether it's picking up a parcel ...

... or at the bank branch.

What do industry insiders say about the future trend of self-service?


We are very pleased that we were able to win Elena Turda, CSO of KEBA Handover Automation GmbH and proven expert for self-service solutions, for an interview. She gives us insights into the direction in which the topic of self-service will develop and why it makes sense to rely on self-service. She also shows how KEBA can support customers on their way to successful self-service solutions.

What do you think about self-service: short-term trend or long-term solution for the future?
"Self-service has evolved during the time driven by two constant drivers: the convenience need of the end customer and the efficiency need of the companies. What is self-service actually vs a full service.

Sceptics still cling to the principle "full-service is the best service", because in their opinion personal contact is essential for customers. However, research show that customers want speed, convenience and immediate availability, preferably 24/7. In this context, the use of the word self-service refers to the purchase of a product or service without the intervention of any staff. And meanwhile our society has already adopted self-service without being fully aware of it. We withdraw money from an ATM, pay for parking at a ticket machine and buy our petrol via a terminal. We are surrounded by self-service offerings that make our lives a lot easier.

In addition to the two main drivers mentioned before there is the reality of our demographic trends that show how drastically our work-force will decline in the coming years – meaning we will no longer have enough employees available for complex processes or tasks and in the same time we will still have many people in the (aging) society to serve with products and services.

Therefore self-service was always a solution for a long term trend."

"We do not see digital solutions as competition to self-service, but as an additional channel. Convenience is king."

Elena Turda
CSO KEBA Handover Automation GmbH


The question keeps coming up: "If everything is going digital, why does it make sense to develop self-service terminals at all?" What is your opinion on this?
„Of course, digital solutions are important and whenever it makes sense, we bring them to the market. We do not see digital solutions as competition to self-service, but as another channel that, like any other, has its advantages and disadvantages. For many processes and business cases, the digital channel is sufficient.

As the demographic change hits, not all services the population will need will be able to be met with fully digital solutions. Therefore, a mix between digital and physical interaction will be needed. And here, too, convenience is king. Customers will use the channel that is most appropriate and convenient for them in the given situation.

Some documents and goods must always be handled analogously - think of parcels with ordered goods or official documents. Companies realize this more and more while they invest in balancing their investments in the right mix. “

How does a higher self-service rate affect the profitability of companies? How does KEBA support customers on their way to a higher self-service rate?
"In order to unfold its full potential, self-service needs a high level of acceptance among end users. Only if the necessary conversion from existing channels to self-service channels is successful self-service can be worthwhile for a company. The advantage of self-service is that the cost per transaction is lower than with other channels. To benefit from these lower costs, our clients rely on our advisory expertise during the transition phase. This comes from over 30 years of experience in the self-service business.

In addition, acceptance by end customers already plays a key role in our development. For high user acceptance, we have to focus on the experience of our users and offer them a positive user experience. Customers want to spend as little time as possible with the transactions and the systems must work reliably. In addition, misinterpretation of commands must be avoided through a clear user interface.

It is a misconception that when you let customers do a lot themselves, the level of positive customer experience decreases. This is not the case because you offer customers interaction on their own terms and so this actually adds a lot of value. Instead of being a spectator, they now become part of the process.

At KEBA we have always been following our mission, that our technologies make the lives of our end users easier and more comfortable. In such, our business customers recognize that our innovative solutions fulfill their efficiency needs but also anticipate and meet the end users expectation in the desire to interact with our self service devices. Our solutions are oriented to cover 360 degrees of operations, from the highly reliable hardware technologies accompanied with the associated digital/remote diagnosis tools and functional monitoring to the state of the art software which is able to adapt to many new use cases.“

If you look further into the future: How do you think the topic of self-service will develop in the next 20 to 25 years? Which areas that are still unthinkable today might be added?
„In order to provide the devices with real-time data, self-service terminals now incorporate the most advanced intelligent and responsive technological components, such as sensors and accelerators. In order to guarantee that the information offered by the terminals is dynamic, pertinent, and current, they also apply context-driven rules.

The Internet of Things (IoT) and self-servicing technologies may be used to create self-service systems of the future. These may react to touchless gestures and even automatically adapt to changing environmental conditions. The market is seeing an increase in new, inventive technology, which complements the self-servicing terminals' automated features.

For example, we experiment with different materials and concepts and work with universities and other partners to generate ideas and be open to completely new ways of doing things. And most importantly, we rely on open innovation and early customer feedback whenever possible.“

Elena Turda, CSO of KEBA Handover Automation GmbH, in an interview

Self-service is the future


The remarks of industry insider Elena Turda show: self-service is not just a trend, but has long since found its way into many everyday tasks. But the end of the developments is still a long way off. It remains exciting to see what the future will bring - and how self-service solutions will continue to develop. What is certain, however, is that KEBA will continue to play a pioneering role in this area. Would you like to be a part of these developments and automate your business areas? Let's shape the future together!

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Julia Werger Team Administration Officer +43 732 7090 27705 [email protected]
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