Self-Service Reframed: Flip the Script with Your Clients

As merchants adapt to labor shortages and changing customer expectations, developers have an opportunity to provide self-service solutions that help them operate efficiently.

kiosk market

ISVs developing self-service solutions are used to walking a fine line. You must balance software that allows customers to enter information, complete tasks, and make payments on their own while carefully messaging its value. The message was that self-service solutions don’t replace people; they allow companies to reallocate employees to more important tasks.

But the 2020s brought new challenges that made self-service non-negotiable. Consumers gravitated toward it to maintain social distancing during the pandemic. Then, when workforce numbers didn’t rebound to pre-pandemic levels, businesses needed to find new ways to do business.

Adapt Your Self-Service Messaging

At the Retail Solutions Providers Association (RSPA) 2023 RetailNOW event, keynote speakers, Jay McBain, chief analyst at Canalys, and Michael LeBlanc, host of the Voice of Retail podcast, discussed that changing retail and restaurant operations is not an option. An aging population equals a shrinking workforce, and labor will continue to be in short supply moving forward. Self-service solutions will fill the gap.

Still, you should avoid the literal message that self-service replaces employees because, frankly, it doesn’t. A better way to frame it is that self-service helps existing staff do more. One cashier can oversee a half-dozen checkouts. One restaurant counter worker can assist six or eight people who place their orders on kiosks. This model makes employees’ lives less stressful and elevates them from doing those tasks to managing them. You’ll get a better response if your “self-service” messaging stresses that people continue to be a vital part of processes and are non-negotiable parts of building customer relationships.

Self-Service Selling Points

Of course, you’ll benefit by conveying messaging that has been effective with prospects in the past. Communicate, preferably with testimonies, case studies, or other user-generated content or social proof that self-service:

      • Meets consumer demands: It allows customers to take control of experiences and save time.
      • Can personalize interactions: You can help your clients bring digital engagements inside brick-and-mortar locations. Solutions can recognize returning customers and personalize service.
      • Builds loyalty: Customers who prefer self-service will take note of merchants that offer it and choose those locations for convenience.
      • Can lead to higher revenues: Data analysis shows that customers who use self-service ordering in QSRs tend to spend more. They can take their time, order exactly what they want, and don’t have to be concerned with judgment from other people in line.
      • Increases efficiency and accuracy: When customers input their own orders, scan order pickup codes, or perform other tasks, it eliminates the chances of human error when a sales associate enters information. As a result, businesses can reduce waste.
      • Works around the clock: Self-service kiosks never call off sick or take breaks. Once implemented, they can cover tasks, including upselling, consistently and reliably.
      • Makes scaling easier: If customer traffic increases or decreases, self-service makes it easier to adapt than hiring or laying off employees.

Operating Models – and the Software that Supports Them – Must Change

As merchants continue to adapt to labor shortages and changing customer expectations, developers have an opportunity to create and provide self-service solutions that help them operate efficiently. However, it’s not a matter of self-service technology or employees. People with the assistance of self-service technology will be able to accomplish more and do their jobs more effectively.

Designing self-service systems that work with people to enhance customer experiences and employee performance –and then clearly defining their value proposition and messaging – will help you meet a growing need and grow your business. The industry is at the beginning of an evolution. Work is changing, and it’s creating challenges for your clients. Provide the solution.

Tyler Wells is the North American Sales Manager for MicroTouch. Since joining the company in July 2021 his focus has been on developing sales and implementing the US distribution strategy. He brings over 14 years of experience in the built for purpose computer hardware and sports entertainment industry. Prior to joining MicroTouch, Tyler served as the Global Distribution Sales Manager and Manager of Business Development at Mimo Monitors, Marketing and Business consultant for DYT Solutions and Inside Ticket Sales for Red Bull. Tyler has a degree in Marketing Management from the University of Wyoming.