Customer perceptions about kiosks call for better messaging: We don’t have all the facts

| by Elliot Maras
Customer perceptions about kiosks call for better messaging: We don’t have all the facts

Last week’s report, "As functionalities expand, what is a kiosk? Readers want a better understanding," revealed industry-wide dissatisfaction with the customer’s understanding of the term, "kiosk." About 70 percent of the readers said the general public and the audience they market to do not sufficiently understand the term. Nearly half of the survey respondents (46.1 percent) think the problem is "marginally important" while 41.2 percent think it is "very important."

It is unclear how critical this particular issue is to the industry, but it's safe to say that messaging will have a big impact on the wide scale adoption of this powerful technology.

A note of caution

Craig Keefner, manager of the Kiosk Industry Association, questioned the survey’s significance on account of what he considers an inherent bias in the survey. Keefner suspected the responses were skewed in favor of the industry supplier segment whose views are not necessarily shared by the organizations that purchase or lease kiosks.

Keefner raised a valid point. Customer perceptions of kiosks – critical to the industry’s future – could be different from kiosk supplier perceptions about customers’ perceptions.

Location decision makers could be more technologically savvy than many on the supplier side realize. Today’s decision makers could be very aware of the time saving benefits and improved customer satisfaction kiosks can offer. Kiosk buyers may not be placing orders as fast as kiosk sellers would like, but maybe the buyers are just waiting for kiosk prices to come down or for mobile technology to provide better solutions than kiosks.

Maybe, but maybe not.

What's needed: customer input

For the industry to grow, input is needed from a larger audience – potential buyers who are not yet buyers. The industry needs to hear from decision makers at hotels, airports, restaurants, hospitals, tourist attractions and numerous other location types that are not all using kiosks.

Market research to date has barely scratched the surface in understanding customer perceptions about kiosks. What’s needed is research on customer perceptions that could help the industry improve its marketing strategies.

The Kiosk Marketplace reader survey hopefully raised awareness of the industry’s need to better understand user perceptions.

Keefner’s assumptions about the reader survey were correct: The survey sample was weighted in favor of kiosk suppliers. (See the chart above.)

But an analysis of the survey results indicates reader opinions about the need to better define industry terminology are fairly uniform across all the different reader groups.

Operator/merchants believe as strongly as anyone that the market audience doesn’t sufficiently understand the term "kiosk." An even larger portion of operator/merchants considers the problem to be "very" or "marginally" serious. And a clear majority of all reader groups thinks it is important for kiosks to better distinguish themselves from vending machines.

A quest presents itself

Clearly, a widespread belief exists within the industry that the market needs to be better engaged about kiosks’ capabilities. Technologies that enhance the consumer’s experience at the point of sale, allow for faster response to customer queries, improve order accuracy, eliminate human error, improve market data, etc. are creating new market opportunities, but they also require more customer education.

New capabilities, furthermore, are expanding the customer base. Kiosks can assist with location wayfinding, document issuing, delivery locker access and onsite supply dispensing in more environments. The need to improve customer understanding dovetails with the challenge to identify and dialogue with new markets.

The challenge of better defining the term or terms by which the industry identifies itself leads to a much larger quest. New markets are materializing for kiosks, meaning new initiatives, partnerships and possibly organizations may be needed.

(A note about the chart: The “other” included consultants, integrators, researchers, educators logistics service providers, financiers, software developers and other service providers.)

Topics: Commentary, Future Trends, Trends / Statistics

Elliot Maras
Elliot Maras is the editor of and

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