April 18, 2018

Are Kiosks the Ultimate Convenience for Posts?

Postal

ATMs, gas stations, fast food… self-service kiosks are almost everywhere.

The promise of convenience is that it reduces the effort or anxiety required to do something.

HBR highlight that, “When a liquor store changed from face-to-face to self-service, the market share of difficult-to-pronounce items increased 8.4%. Researchers concluded that customers were afraid of appearing unsophisticated in front of clerks. Changing to self-service removed the social friction.”

In this example, avoid potential embarrassment provides a type of convenience.

How about at the post office? Are self-service kiosk a good fit for the post office?

 

Understanding Self-Service

Automated self-service kiosks offer several advantages: reliable, efficient, and predictable.

Of course, you also need balance. Research suggests that retailers who over-automate lose their connection with customers. Some customers want the personal touch. Others have queries outside the scope of the kiosk’s abilities. 

At Escher, we believe Posts can use self-service kiosks as a low-cost channel to strengthen their relationship with customers while creating new revenue opportunities.

 

If you want to see our Kiosks in action - Fionnuala Higgins, CCO at Escher, discusses the many customer-centric services available on our stand at Post Expo 2017 including the Self-Service Kiosks.

 

Efficiency

Think about how simple it is to withdraw money from the ATM.

Kiosks are highly efficient at improving customer satisfaction, increasing efficiency, and reducing operating costs.

Posts can use data generated from kiosk-generated transactions to control inventory based on shopping patterns, identify market trends, and monitor frequently searched terms. Armed with this information, Posts can make sure to order items in advance of anticipated spikes, improve products based on feedback, and address bottlenecks and process inefficiencies.

 

Choice

Self-service kiosks empower customers to perform tasks typically performed by a teller at the counter, enabling staff to focus on services and sales.

By performing tasks at their own pace at a kiosk, customers can review and verify their orders. This contrasts with the counter, where some feel pressurized to hurry, especially when there is a line behind them, which leads to errors, rework, and frustration. Realizing your mistake, you have to line up again.

 

Convenience

Kiosks are ideal for performing specific tasks, such as buying stamps.

With the minimum of fuss, it’ll print the stamp, give you a receipt, and even remind you to collect your change.

As a Postal Operator, you can even program the kiosk to upsell after every transaction.

“Would you like gift wrapping with that parcel?”

Kiosks remove the frustration many customers experience with having to wait in line or shoehorn a visit to the post during a busy day.

Frequently available out of hours, kiosks provide customers with a convenient alternative to the counter, offering a range of services for transactions including:

  • Avoiding waiting in long lines
  • Perform shipping and mailing activities, such as weighing packages or envelopes
  • Selecting the service class
  • Printing postage, shipping labels, and priority mail express forms
  • Ensuring that dispensed postage is secure and trackable
  • Choosing the most affordable shipping option
  • Weighing letters, flats, and parcels
  • Purchasing variable rate postage, insurance, certified, and return receipts
  • Performing ZIP code lookup
  • Renewing Post Office Box
  • Printing receipts with Tracking number

 

Control

Giving customers more control when visiting the posts leads to higher satisfaction rates.

Familiar with ATMs, banks, and other self-services, customers are confident when using touchscreens and interactive menus to access services.

Instead of waiting in line to be served, they can use the interactive screens, calculators, and other features to complete their transactions quickly.

 

Reliability

Reliability, performance and dependability are essential for kiosks.

For Posts, its reliability allows the smooth transition of services from the counter to the self-service. The durability of kiosks give Posts the confidence that they’ll deliver a consistent experience to visitors.

From the customer’s perspective, the ease of use with which they can find, access, and perform tasks encourages more interaction, which ultimately leads to increases in sales and repeat visits.

 

Self Checkout

If you’re only buying a few items at the grocer, the Express Lane is your best friend. Just scan, pay, and go.

Self-checkout let’s us complete transactions quickly and get on with our day.

Posts can make customer lives easier by integrating self-checkout features with POS systems and peripheral devices, such as barcode scanners, scales, and receipt printers.

When designing kiosks, Escher ensures the application design and peripherals to support fast transaction processing are efficient and frictionless.

 

Product Range

There was a time when the post office sold mostly stamps and other related services.

Today, the social landscape is different.

Posts are shifting away from mail to parcels, eCommerce, offering services from identity authentication, financial services, licenses, passports and more.

In addition, Posts can use kiosks to offer:

  • Multiple languages support
  • Currency conversion
  • Different postal rates
  • Multiple tender options, including cash, coin and debit/credit
  • Print "on demand" capabilities that eliminate printing, distribution, accounting and destruction of unused stamps.

 

Access

Consumers need access to postal services often outside of hours, and at the weekends.

Changes in the traditional work week means getting to the post between 9-5 isn’t as simple as it used to be. Shift workers, students, employees working from home, or running their own business, all need access to the post at different times, often at very short notice.

Also, with branch consolidation, customers need to be sure when they arrive at a post office, they’ll be able to access services.

Kiosks resolve this issue. Increasingly available 24*7, customers can weigh items, get stamps, ship their goods, and more.

At Canada Post, customer can use the self-serve vending kiosk to buy stamps, shipping supplies such as Priority™ Prepaid and Xpresspost™ Prepaid envelopes or bubble envelopes, gift cards and more. Self-serve transactions are quick and enable customers to avoid lineups at the counter. It also offers extended hours 24/7.

 

Speed

Today everything is just a click away. In our hyper-connected world, we expect frequent updates, helpful reminders, and instant notifications during the shopping experience.

Research from MIT suggests that speed of transaction had the strongest influence on customer satisfaction. Successful kiosk deployments make utilitarian tasks faster while reducing wait times significantly.

In addition, educating new customers on how to use the technology, and the placement of the kiosks are important factors to increase uptake and avoid bottlenecks.

 

Summary

Posts looking to improve the customer experience are expanding the deployment of self-service kiosks and lobby assistants equipped with mobile Point-of-Service (mPOS) technologies.

Well-designed self-service kiosks result in more satisfied customers, help transition services from the counter, and free up staff to work on higher value tasks.

At Escher, we help Posts achieve this by understand what customers require in a self-service environment, then implementing kiosks that increase revenues and strengthen the core business.

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