Self-serve Strategy for the Customer Centric Operator

Self-serve strategy is firmly a top priority for nearly any customer centric operator, especially in the QSR and casual dining sector. Self-serve has become a native element of customer experience for British consumers in nearly every facet of life from travel, medical, entertainment retail and ticketing. And consumers are loving the sheer speed, convenience and autonomy it offers.

But until very recently, the UK hospitality has been slower than other sectors and US operators to adopt and commit to the new instore digital self-serve model.

Combining the 5 Core Elements of Self-serve Strategy

As anyone knows who has been involved in the decision and planning stages of introducing kiosks and self-serve technology, getting the physical, cultural, customer, commercial and technical strategy right is not only pivotal but also more complex than first envisaged.

The Common Self-serve Scenario

For many it’s very much a case of, “we know we need to roll out self-serve and kiosk strategy to deliver the fast, digital and efficient ordering our customer centric strategy is calling for. And we see others doing it very well and their customers are loving the new experience. We know we must create a seamless, smooth and immersive customer experience from start to finish at all points in the transaction process. We understand the revenue objectives, goals to increase productivity and customer satisfaction and we are clear on how the self-serve strategy is part this.”

Eradicating Silos

Suddenly, there are a lot more components to be knitted together: technology, knowledge management, data, customer service and HR. Creating a well-defined self-serve strategy is critical. Without it, silos will creep in across the operation from PoS channels, business goals, data, training and knowledge. All of which will erode financial return possibilities and put at stake the unified and slick customer experience we strive for. In fact, problems not benefits become a more likely outcome.

Self-serve: Strategic Not Tactical

One of the biggest mistakes in self-serve transition and migration, is to adopt a tactical approach to self-serve and implement it on a project basis. The key to successfully rolling out self-service is through careful long-term planning and consideration across the wider multi-channel customer engagement and experience.

4 Steps to Kick Start Your Self-serve Strategy

1. Planning and People

If you have existing self-service technology in operation such as online or App ordering, a good place to start is to benchmark your current offering in relation to where you want your new self-serve strategy to go e.g. instore kiosks.

Things to look at:

  • Measure the customer experience and performance across all existing self-service channels. If you do not currently offer any self-serve, understand how customers currently go about the different stages of transaction and the current experience offered.
  • Establish clear goals of what you wish to achieve with kiosk or tablet self-service. How will these impact the customer experience, improve productivity and positively impact the bottom line.
  • Define measurable business objectives e.g. reduced staff handling time, reduced customer wait times or increased order value per transaction.
  • Understand how your customer is likely to understand the self-order process; their role; and how they will perceive the end-to-end experience. How will instore self-serve optimise the customer journey and what will this look like?

2. Road Map the Vision

Step 1 should produce strong goals and targets for you to start to road map your self-serve vision and keep it on track. Getting all the pieces into place in the right order will enable you to make your vision a reality. It will also help you to get buy-in from key executives within your organisation – an essential part of achieving your self-serve strategy.

3. Technology

There are two elements to self-serve technology: the hardware and the software. With your vision and customer journey mapped out, you should be able to decide on the type of self-serve hardware that will suit both your physical store layout and your customer experience goals:

Self-serve Hardware

  • Tablet Kiosk – 10″ tablets with a range of mounting options, separate PED (payment device), optional printer and barcode scanner. 
  • Desk Kiosk 15/17″ touchscreen within an enclosure which also houses scanner, PED (payment device) and optional printer and barcode scanner.
  • Floor Standing Kiosk – ‘McDonalds style kiosk’.  There are still various format options such as portrait or landscape screens ranging from 22″ to 32″ in size which can be supplied as a ‘screen only’ so that you can mount yourself, or can be supplied in range of enclosures together with the relevant payment device and peripherals needed such as scanner and printers.

When you have decided which kiosk hardware; screen size and format, is right for you, you then have two options for your Kiosk self-ordering software (also called the Kiosk UI) to meet different budgets and timescale needs:

Self-serve Software

  • Custom Kiosk UI: Self-serve Software vendors such as Kurve, can provide a fully custom-built design for your business. 
  • Alternatively, for those looking for a proven and simple way of implementing a kiosk into their business, a ready built solution such as the Kurve platform can provide a structured kiosk layout on which we can apply logos, fonts and styling.  Built on experience and previous work, this option delivers you a more cost-effective kiosk set-up and in a shorter time period.  Whilst this option is lower in price, you will still benefit specialist design team experience to ensure your kiosk and brand identity work together.

It is essential that whatever self-serve software you chose, it must be totally and freely integrated into your EPoS and BoH systems to become a native element of the wider IT ecosystem. Self-service is not a tactical and isolated element of the wider operation and transaction process. It is a strategic part of the entire customer journey and technical infrastructure.

Things to consider:

  • Existing EPoS system strengths and limitations. Can it manage your new vision for self-serve?
  • Will your self-serve software vendor have the experience and hands on support to integrate your new self-serve software with your new or existing EPoS and BoH systems?
  • Is the self-serve software scalable and open to future changes and technological advances?
  • How robust and secure is the self-serve software as a data hub?

4. Knowledge Management

With the first three steps in place, the self-service strategy then needs to face the big issue of knowledge management and the complex areas of: people, processes and technology – three critical elements of self-service. If these three areas are not aligned, the risk of silos is very real which will erode out the success of your self-serve strategy.

To prevent silos, a structure needs to be put in place to provide employees and customer with the right information at the right time. It’s about sharing information throughout the operation and ensuring it is used right across the both the customer journey and in staff resourcing and training.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Does your software need to include knowledge management for consistent answers and prompts across self-service and assisted service touch points?
  • Can the knowledge engine understand customer intent and guide them through multiple paths of the order process? Can it upsell and prompt promotions based on customer preference or behaviour?
  • How will staff become part of this knowledge management and what training and re-purposing of roles is required?
  • How easily and quickly can digital menus be updated or optimised for kitchen efficiency?

Why not download the latest UK Report on Self-serve? “Self-serve Kiosks: Proven Strategic Approaches for Restaurants 2019”. CLICK HERE.

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