Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Self Serve Checkout Equals Poor Serve Checkout

I know why stores starting implementing Self-Serve checkout.  It was supposed to save them money and speed up the checkout process.  You could have six lanes open with only one cashier.

Some argued that not only was it more efficient, it also helped Customer Service.  You never had to have a customer leave unhappy because of a slow, poorly trained, surly attitude clerk.

Instead they left unhappy because they couldn't get the self-serve kiosk to work, had to call for help twice, got frustrated and had only an inanimate object on which to take out those frustrations.

Self-Serve Frustration
I hate going to Kroger for that exact reason.  The scanner doesn't recognize all the bar codes, the bagging area doesn't recognize the items I placed in the bags (after finally pulling the bags apart) or doesn't recognize my own bags when I don't want to use their plastic ones.  The checkout won't scan my loyalty card.  The lone cashier serving the four self-serve kiosks is busy with some other fool trying to checkout.  And the sign hanging from the ceiling mocks me with their bragging about having the best checkouts in the grocery world.

The reality of Self-Serve Checkout is that it encourages smaller transactions.  No one wants to go through the hassle with a cart full of groceries or toys or hardware or home decor.  Albertson's Groceries found that their average transactions went down when they added Self-Serve.  They're pulling those kiosks out.  Ikea is doing the same thing.

Customer Service Neutral
The other issue with Self-Serve is that at its best, it is Customer Service neutral.  It cannot delight a customer by making sure they have everything they need.  It cannot build a connection between customer and store, a personal relationship that makes the trip to the store meaningful.  It cannot offer tips or suggestions on how to use the purchased product better.  It cannot put a smile on the customer's face.

At its worst, it sends customers away.  I don't go to Kroger anymore, even though they sell three food items we love but cannot buy anywhere else in town.  My wife has stopped asking.  Why? Because they rarely have a regular checkout lane operating.  They give you no other option than self-serve.

Make Checkout a WOW
The Checkout is one of the more crucial steps in WOW Customer Service. Because it is the last interaction a customer has with you, it is the part they remember the best.  In my FREE download Customer Service: From Weak to WOW, here is how you can WOW your customers at checkout...

You offer specific suggestions for other products or services that compliment her purchase.  You reinforce her choices with compliments and reassurance that she made a good choice.  You give her tips or suggestions that will make the purchases even better such as creative ways to use the products.  Plus, you help carry her items out to the car, suggest where she can go to eat or to do more shopping.  You get her signed up for your newsletters, birthday clubs and for any special deals or drawings you offer.  And you get her in your Special Customers book.
Make Checkout memorable and your customers will checkout more often.  Even Ikea, the ultimate in self-serve shopping, is starting to think that way

-Phil Wrzesinski
www.PhilsForum.com

PS  When you're done reading the Customer Service: From Weak to WOW download, check out all the other FREE downloads for retailers in the Freebies section of www.PhilsForum.com.







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