When deployers plan for a new kiosk deployment, it is easy to get caught up in aesthetics such as the size of the screen, design and color, overlooking some essential money-saving aspects. For vendors and end-users alike, here are several behind-the-scenes details that are often overlooked, but can make or break your next kiosk rollout.
Does your kiosk have a power filter?
Anyone who builds or owns a kiosk knows its CPU isn’t unlike the ones found in our home or office PCs. Having a kiosk freeze up can be much more costly, however.
A power filter is like a premium insurance package for your kiosks. Power filters protect the kiosk from power surges and spikes that can come through the electrical outlet, but also through phone and internet jacks. They also clean up “dirty power” and suppress electric noise.
“Electric noise is caused by things near the customer’s facility that they have no control over,” said Mike Honkomp, director of new market development for Electronic Systems Protection. "Maybe it’s in the convenience store next to the ATM machine, or next to a refrigerator where a compressor kicks on.”
A commercial-grade power filter provides much more protection than a common surge protector. Power filters eliminate more electric noise and have a much higher threshold in case of lightning strikes and large power spikes.
“A $180 investment for a power filter seems like a worthwhile investment to protect a $10,000 kiosk,” Honkomp said.
The best service for self-service
When you buy an appliance, a service plan is often included. If and when the appliance breaks down, a service person comes to your house and fixes it (between the hours of eight and four…thank you for your patience).
So what about your kiosk? Having a plan for service and maintenance can lower your kiosk’s downtime from days to hours. More and more companies are supporting their own service teams of certified technicians working for the company, but placed throughout the country for quick service.
MTI is a retail fixture company that has used RFID and targeted marketing as part of its self-service initiative. They have 100 contracted service employees around the country for system repairs, bridging the labor gap between expensive IT contractors and what Vice President Jason Goldberg calls “dusters and fluffers” – store merchandisers who don’t do repairs. MTI’s maintenance crew also performs monthly check-ups on MTI stations in their region.
For those deployers who do not have their own in-house maintenance service, there are companies such as Rhombus Services. Rhombus maintains a nation-wide network of qualified subcontractors specialized in kiosk repair and service.
Rhombus’s president, Jeff Metzger, says it is also very important to synchronize your service plan with the recommended service times for kiosk components such as printers and bill acceptors.
Whether contracted or in-house, you want to make sure your kiosk vendor can provide you with quick maintenance service, whether in-house or sub-contracted. You can’t afford to have a kiosk down for days particularly if you are located in a remote area, while you wait for a technician to come cross-country for a service call. Not to mention, you will most likely be paying the cost of his plane ticket.
Keep an eye on it with remote monitoring
Whether your kiosk is a revenue generator or a customer information tool, downtime is going to end up costing your business. A remote monitoring package is a very cheap and worthwhile feature often overlooked, especially during small kiosk rollouts or pilots.
Through programs such as Provisio’s SiteKiosk, kiosk manufacturers and deployers can monitor amounts of money accepted, printer paper levels and even gather user demographic information. Most importantly, you can be notified if your kiosk goes down through email, SMS or cell phone calls.
Like the service plan, remote monitoring services can be done independently or through a kiosk vendor.
“It’s insanity that more people don’t spend a few bucks for the service,” said Peter Snyder, managing director, International Kiosk Group, Kiosk Information Systems.