Self-Service Kiosks: Customer Service Solutions

Dec. 20, 2012
Interactive kiosk offerings boost customer service without increasing manpower.

Looking to eliminate lines in your lobby or add extra security to the check-in process? A self-service kiosk equipped with a custom suite of features may be your best bet.

A truly customized kiosk requires a thorough consideration of every aspect of occupants’ interactions with the machine. Consider these factors to get an idea of what you will need.

Internal and External Options
Decide which placement makes the most sense for your facility, advises Eric Olmsted, sales vice president for KIOSK Information Systems, a designer and manufacturer of self-serve kiosks. Options include:

  • Wall mount: Good for areas with fixed traffic patterns or space constraints.
  • Through-wall mount: Easily accessible, but comes with a high cost due to the permanent installation requirement.
  • Counter mount: Optimal for small spaces and simple tasks, such as registration. Inexpensive but can’t handle many extra components.
  • Freestanding: Can be repositioned or moved as needed, especially with wireless access or wheels on the base of the enclosure.

Powder-coated steel is the most common material for enclosures, while stainless steel or brushed aluminum are typically reserved for high-end settings like car dealerships or hotels, explains Olmsted. Paint or graphics on the housing customize the enclosure to your business. Depending on the kiosk’s location, you may have to take extra safety precautions.

Popular Kiosk Features

Wondering which features best fit your facility? Here are some of the commonly requested options.


Printing with Interactive Touch Menus
  • Wayfinding maps
  • Building directory
  • Staff information
  • Biometric identification
    (fingerprints or palm readers)
  • Badge printing
  • Image capture
Self-Processed Financial or Data Requests
  • Patient check-in
  • Patient information
  • Co-payments
  • Fund transfers for fines or licenses
Signage with Deliverables
  • Coupons
  • Special offers
  • Informational printouts

“While it’s hard to protect it from vandalism, when people are touching it, you always run the risk that somebody might push on the screen too often or too hard and crack it,” says Bruce J. Manning, associate principal of Cerami & Associates, an acoustical, AV, and technology design consultancy.

Narrowing down options for the kiosk’s added features requires a clear idea of where the kiosk will go and what services it has to provide, Olmsted adds.

“If you have a simple informational or wayfinding kiosk, a PC, touchscreen, speakers, and maybe a printer will get the main job done,” Olmsted explains. “If the kiosk is intended for an outdoor or breezeway area, special Hi-Brite monitors come into play. Additional transaction component options might include credit card or ID readers, badge printers, a receipt or large format printer, or video on demand. If the enclosure is intended for outside placement, it requires elements like weather sealing and heating and cooling units.”

Ensure Usability
A truly effective kiosk must be as user-friendly as possible. The user interface – what visitors see and touch on the screen – is the most important component of user-friendly design, Olmsted says.

“It has to be intuitive, simple, attractive, and engaging,” Olmsted explains. “The component placement for input and output is one thing, but creating a user interface that’s equally effective with an elderly person and a fifth-grader is half the art.”

Don’t cram the screen with too many options and information, but don’t settle for a sparse look, either. Minimize mistakes by requesting a layout of the user flow and interface presentation before the vendor has started coding work, Olmsted adds.

“Content creation plays a big role in the end use,” Manning says. “It’s relatively easy to put the hardware together, but to create what’s going on the screen is pretty hard. You have to make it as easy as possible for the user.”

Three Common Mistakes
As you make your final decision, make sure you consider these three frequently overlooked areas:

  1. Remote management software. Discuss network management and infrastructure requirements at the outset of the project. The remote management software that controls the kiosk should be intuitive and highly functional, Olmsted says: “Centralized control optimizes field uptime, reduces service costs, and streamlines reporting and analytics, which directly impacts your deployment ROI.”

  2. Price vs. quality. Don’t automatically favor the lowest bid despite the temptation, Olmsted says, as that may saddle you with “short-sighted component quality choices.” Be sure service and the warranty receive due consideration along with the upfront cost.

  3. The full solution. Make sure your decision is based on weighing every aspect from the enclosure and capabilities to integration costs.

With a comprehensive consideration process, you can match your building with a kiosk that adds true value to your business.

Janelle Penny ([email protected]) is associate editor of BUILDINGS.

About the Author

Janelle Penny | Editor-in-Chief at BUILDINGS

Janelle Penny has more than a decade of experience in journalism, with a special emphasis on covering facilities management. She aims to deliver practical, actionable content for facilities professionals.

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