The Perspective 
Monday, 10 August 2009

This is not what you nor your customers want to see.

kiosk out of orderThis was taken at a Cincinnati Kroger's grocery location yesterday as my wife and I shopped for our once a month groceries. The deli ordering kiosk which normally sits just inside of the entry to the main store, was sitting by the shopping carts corral with this ugly but obvious sign. When your customers become so familiar with and used to the self-service kiosks you implement in your store, it can be a real disappointment to them when it's unavailable. And while no kiosk can have 100 percent uptime, you should at least move the kiosk out of their view when it is unavailable.

Now, truth be told, I think this was temporarily set aside while they were remodeling the space it normally sits in. New floors, new drywall, new counter tops, etc. so they had good reason to have this kiosk out of commission, and there was a second kiosk closer to the deli. But I believe they could have put this near a power outlet and dropped a temporary Ethernet to it for connectivity. But maybe this is too much of an over simplification of what it would take (I don't know their setup and networking). This would keep the customers happy, and the deli running efficiently... all of the reasons you deployed to begin with.

On a similar note, we just installed new kiosks for Kroger in a new store that hasn't opened yet in Norwood, Cincinnati. These kiosks are for a completely different purpose in the Personal Finance section of the store. We worked with their vendor who creates a lot of their retail displays and store fixtures. They were to provide an "enclosure" around our IBM AnyPlace kiosk computer.

But as of the time we brought the kiosks, connected and installed, they had not delivered the enclosures. As a matter of fact, the client had not even seen them yet. So this should be an interesting integration. We believe that we should have been engaged for the entire kiosk enclosure, software and hardware, and let that partner focus on what they do best. You know it's bad when the client contacts us to provide a turntable type solution to this yet unseen enclosure. Shouldn't that partner have provided that? Ah well, we will go above and beyond to ensure that this deployment goes well.

In the past we have also integrated kiosks into other grocery retailers for loyalty card systems. The kiosks are highly used and loved by the customers as a means to redeem their points and update their account information. In our initial deployment we had a problem with one of the printers not printing correctly and I was needed onsite to help troubleshoot (hardware firmware needed updating). Trust me, when you take one of the two kiosks offline even for a few minutes, the customers are not happy. They had to walk to the other entrance to use that kiosk instead, but they felt inconvenienced. And they were, but the point is that customers love self service. And when they become familiar and accustomed to using it, you need to ensure it is there for them. Don't disappoint your customers and don't take the easy way out. Keep that kiosk online!

Update: Weeks later my wife and I returned to do our weekly shopping (yes, we are trying to eat at home more often) and found to my delight that the staff had taken off the hand written note and put the kiosk back online! They had even improved the signage and branding on and around the kiosk. Nice job! The original location of the kiosk has been replaced with an in store clinic which may be a new trend in additional services being provided by grocers to enable customers to perform many tasks with one visit, ensuring customer loyalty and foot traffic. This explains why the kiosk was in transition and temporarily offline. My preference would be to not have any kiosk, than the one with the "out of order" note taped to it. Consumers need to know that systems are always working to build trust.

Posted by: Tim Burke AT 10:35 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
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