Choosenick. Notes and observations on service design, as well as other interesting things/thinking. By Nick Marsh.



Posts tagged with “selfservice”...


Self service design

On a recent trip with colleagues to visit a client in the Midlands we stopped in a service station and they had automated self serve machines for KFC and Burger King. You order and pay at an interactive kiosk thing, then you join an express queue to pick up your meal.

Image from Gizmodo

These are brilliant, because:

  • principally, it takes wasted queuing time and makes it productive – while you’re waiting your food is being made
  • your food will be hot
  • I assume queuing will be less, and certainly it will be more orderly as you get a ticket with a number (like a deli counter) - sometimes fast food queues can be a bit stressy if there’s no tensa system
  • It reduces wastage as they’ll only make what people order, not what they think people will want
  • it saves money/staff as you need less people working tills
  • it lets customers browse the menu and take their time choosing (and they have more info about what they’re choosing) – often you get to the front of the queue and you feel pressured into making a snap decision

Obviously, its not something you want to see at your local lovely Italian restaurant, but KFC/burger king in a service station – come on, its all about speed and convenience. Some googling reveals that the kiosks are designed by a firm called, get this, Self Service Kiosks. Interestingly, this technologically mediated self-service model was proposed in a long article by Michael Eckersley in the winter 2008 DMI service design issue.

His article ‘Designing Human Centred Services’ he talks in depth about taking a human centred, service design approach to innovation in the QSR (quick service restaurant) sector:

"Some telling deficiencies in the fast-food experience were not hard to spot, beginning with a good deal of waste in the QSR model. No, not in the hyper-efficient restaurant operation itself, but in the customer's own expenditure of time, attention, and energy spent interacting with it. Natural human patterns around food and eating (for example., sample tasting, personalization, watching the preparation, serving oneself, second helpings, after-meal sweets and desserts, hosting, socialization, and conviviality) are virtually ignored in the industry. That blind spot means that such variables go unrecognized, unmeasured, unmanaged, and unmined for innovation opportunities. Sure, customers have gotten used to modern fast-food conventions, but the sacrifices-conscious or otherwise-of impersonalized dining are real.

Fast food is intended to be fast. But at peak lunch and dinner times, the customer experience is all about waiting. Most QSRs still process customers on a serial, undifferentiated basis, with newbies and "super-users" all together in the same line. Burgeoning, hard-to-read menu boards place an additional cognitive load on those unfamiliar with the various food options. Asking questions about the menu is treated as slowing down the process, so ordering is often rushed, and done without a clear idea of what food will show up. Unfortunately, various technological options for customer self-service face stiff internal resistance. But the design opportunities for multiplying the number of ordering points throughout the QSR offer the potential for expedited order processing during peak periods, not to mention shorter service queues, reduced customer stress, and increased order volume. Operational challenges to this approach are not trivial, but the first QSR brand to design and implement such a reflexive system will probably enjoy real competitive advantages by offering customers better and more flexible options for ordering."

You can also download the article, with images, as a pdf from HumanCentered's website.

November 1st, 2008 / Tags: servicedesign, examples, selfservice / Trackback / Comments