Overcoming Kiosk Qualms

Placement and signage promote kiosk usage

One frigid winter night in Manhattan I decided to no longer hibernate at home. It was time to hibernate indoors elsewhere. I convinced a few friends to do the same and out into the cold we went.

We joined a brave, ear-muffed group of people lined up around the block to see a new film at a tiny, yet charming theater. Unfortunately, the lone, annoyed box-office operator was creating a similarly annoying ambience. The only thing worse than a long line of cranky people is a long line of cranky people in freezing weather.

After waiting for 20 minutes, and standing behind at least another 20 people, I noticed it. Nestled off to the side, two people were using an interactive, self-service kiosk to purchase their e-tickets.

This place had kiosks!

I jumped off the line, went up to the kiosk, bought our tickets and in we walked. The transaction took two minutes.

Why do kiosks often go unused when they can clearly save time and sanity? Do people not see them or do they just choose not to use them?

Still on my kiosk high, I successfully used a unit at the airport after attending the KioskCom Self Service Expo in Las Vegas in April. However, I noticed that some people still opted to wait in long lines for personal assistance.

“You can’t just put a kiosk out there and hope someone will have the curiosity to find it,” said Frances Mendelsohn, president of kiosk research group Summit Research Associates Inc. Mendelsohn was a speaker at the KioskCom event, as well as a judge for the show’s Self-Service Excellence Awards.

“Signage is critical and this is where a lot of companies fail,” she told Chain Store Age following the conference. “People need to know that kiosks are, in fact, available and what using one will do for them.”

Mendelsohn also suggested that kiosks should include signage with step-by-step information to avoid any surprises.

“Nothing irks me more than a kiosk that isn’t up front with a consumer,” Mendelsohn said.

“For example, some photo kiosks don’t tell you how much prints will be. You’ll go through the whole process before you realize that Wal-Mart is so much cheaper,” she explained. “Customers need to know what they’re getting themselves into before they waste their time.”

Of course, some companies might not want to reveal the cost of a service until the end of the ordering process “because it may be pricey,” she said, “While some consumers may still get the prints after going through the process—despite the price—statistics prove that the majority will not.”

It seems that kiosk placement is also crucial. Let’s face it, I was surprised to find that little treasure at my local movie theater. Mendelsohn reinforced the fact that I am not alone.

“I’ve seen kiosks in major hotels that have self check-in and checkout and I didn’t even realize the option was available. Why have a kiosk if no one is going to see it?”

That’s a good question. I’m sure those who were in line at the movies with us would have liked to have known the answer, too.