, , , , , , ,

Self-Service Kiosks Aren’t Just For Quick-Service Restaurants!

Just like the drive-thru window revolutionized the Quick Serve Restaurant (QSR) industry in the 1960s, self-service kiosk technology is poised to do the same in the late 2000s. Restaurants like Panera, McDonald’s, and many others are turning to self-service kiosks in record numbers. QSR’s see digital ordering capabilities a critical differentiator that saves customers’ time, adds convenience and increases menu-customization options. These restaurants are also finding the self-service ordering model also helps free up employees to focus on other customer needs that contribute to higher-quality customer experiences. Not only that, whether it’s a touch-screen tablet or innovative self-service kiosk, younger buyers are even more comfortable with the digital technology. According to AdAge, millennials and Generation Z (ages 2-19) will change how customer service is defined dramatically in the coming years. Those groups are digital natives and exceptionally technologically savvy. Think about it: Generation Z-ers have never known a time before Google! And, they expect to be able to self-serve, while also receiving assistance anywhere along their personalized customer journey. (Source: AdAge). By digitizing their businesses now, companies are striving to build strong connections with this younger demographic and their next-generation of customers.

For those reasons, the adoption of self-service kiosks is also expanding way beyond our favorite fast food locations. Today you can see these digital technologies being leveraged everywhere from the supermarket checkout line at Whole Foods or Kroger, to the airport counter, to gas stations, as well as other areas such as hospitality, government and retail, and banking. Let’s explore how some of these other industries are utilizing self-service kiosks and how they are changing their business models in exciting ways.

  •    Healthcare- Healthcare kiosks span the gamut from appointment check-in centers to those kiosks with personal information related to medications, referrals, pharmacy reminders or instructions for scheduling a follow-up appointment. Many sophisticated healthcare kiosks also offer privacy screens, biometric identification or cameras, and scanners for insurance cards and payments.  In-clinic kiosks help to streamline and enhance the patient’s experience and improve critical workflows that ensure HIPAA compliance. Self-assessment kiosks and those that offer screenings like weight and blood pressure, help individuals and encourage repeat visits. Interactive kiosks also have the unique ability to deliver targeted messages about brands that are personally relevant, according to assessment results. Other digital booths are more information such as ones outside pharmacies that provide details about new generic drugs available, or those that offer health and wellness and nutritional information. Informational kiosks may even be located at community centers like the YMCA or local gym.
  •    Retail- The user interface improved dramatically over the years and now include everything from touch-screens to next-generation technologies like gesture-based interactions and augmented reality (AR) applications. These advancements are keeping visitors in the store longer and allowing customers to explore the breadth of what the store has to offer. They also sync more customer data with loyalty-building programs, enabling more targeted and personalized promotional. Luxury retailer Neiman Marcus, for example, now offers its customers free phone charging stations. Because these kiosks require shoppers to enter their phone number, they double as a customer acquisition tool, where the store can send a targeted text message to shoppers within 30 minutes of removing their phones. Taking the digital kiosk even further, the company also introduced a Memory Mirror application that acts as a full-sized fashion mirror, giving shoppers the ability to record a video of themselves in an outfit, and download or share it instantly via social media. (Source: Retail Dive) By linking in-person digital experiences with other marketing programs like email, loyalty programs, and mobile-based efforts, retail-based kiosks are changing how companies connect with their best customers.
  •    Hospitality- While most of us are very familiar and comfortable with booking hotels online, fewer hotels offer the same convenience and flexibility for their check-in and check-out processes.  However, recent studies show, there’s a significant opportunity in this area. According to JD Power & Associates, today only 4% of check-ins and 1% of check-outs today occur through mobile apps, but when it is used, it is associated with higher guest satisfaction. (Source: J.D. Power & Associates). For hotels with frequent international guests, kiosks also level the playing field, giving guests multiple language options. While digital self-service applications and kiosks don’t replace hospitality staff members, they free up staff to attend to other guest needs, overall enhancing the level of customer service.

Leading companies today are finding innovative ways to turn what was once transactional encounters (i.e., ordering food or checking into a hotel room or doctor’s office) into personalized and interactive digital experiences that are unique and interesting, as well as efficient. Today more than ever, consumers form strong attachments to brands that can offer these types of engagement. Talk to TechLink today about how self-service kiosks may fit into your overall customer service strategy and how we can help your business, select, design, and deploy innovative digital technology that can save money, enhance customer support, and transform your business.


, , , , , ,

Paving the Way for Integration, Automation and Better Service with APIs

Forbes called 2017 the year of the API economy for its ability to support new business models. Not only that, a recent report by Deloitte tells us that APIs are critical because they empower businesses to focus on the efficient and secure exchange of data, instead of getting hung up on the delivery methods. APIs or (Application Programming Interfaces) are defined as a set of definitions, protocols, and tools for building application software. APIs set methods for communication between various software components. This includes real-time integration between on-premise, legacy systems, and cloud platforms and apps. Looking ahead, most believe APIs will continue to be the method of choice for powering the free exchange of data for applications which is needed to support the digital economy. The Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning, and artificial intelligence all rely on APIs. Scott Buchholz, Federal Chief Technology Officer at Deloitte, explains.

“While we’ve seen a rise in using [APIs] to exchange data between enterprises and between organizations, we’re actually starting to see a rise in people using them within their organizations. “That’s where a lot of the power of APIs is being unlocked.”(Source: Deloitte).

Today APIs are being built and leveraged to simplify and accelerate the integration process, removing the need for complex and manual coding efforts to get systems, applications or platforms to exchange information and to ‘talk’ to each other. When done right, APIs can significantly shrink deployment windows and improve automation and collaboration between partners, vendors, and customers.

Building integration ‘fast lanes’

That’s why TechLink has focused heavily on expanding its integration capabilities through APIs. TechLink has introduced APIs that connect its in-house CRM app, SIMPL, and its technician-centered app MOBI into providers’ systems. These APIs provide an ‘integration fast lane’ that includes a pre-built set of instructions for linking systems together. For those providers considering an installation partner to help create a real competitive advantage, look for those that deliver superior customer support and more efficient ways of doing business.

  1.   Greater automation and simplified integration- TechLink’s API-centric strategy allows for simplified integration into suppliers’ ordering systems, applications, and other platforms. When suppliers’ ordering systems can talk directly with TechLink’s MOBI application and customer portal, barriers between disparate enterprise systems are erased and real-time communication and collaboration is possible.
  2.   Eliminating data entry- With TechLink’s API software, installers no longer have to manually collect and retype customer data at each project site. Instead, technicians have instant access to the customer order through an integration with the supplier’s system. And once on site, using TechLink’s MOBI portal installers can look up relevant order information, making notes and changes on the fly. This integration results in greater automation, fewer trips to customer sites, accurate project tracking, and ultimately faster installation.
  3.   Delivering a more seamless customer experience– By linking supplier systems with TechLink applications, customers receive a higher-level of service, compared to conventional providers. For example, recently TechLink was able to deliver a multi-site SD-WAN project for a national retailer customer−which included upgrading 4000 customer sites across the country. TechLink and the supplier have successfully met 4-hour SLA requirements with help from more efficient data and information exchange.

If your organization would like to learn more about how APIs can help your organization deliver more efficient and high-value services, contact us! TechLink has a skilled team of professional installers and experienced project managers with extensive web and mobile software development experience ready to chat. Give us a call!