With the news that the supermarket Booths has decided to axe almost all its self-serve customer service tills, we must ask the question of whether automated systems are always beneficial for businesses and shoppers.
Despite the popularity of automated systems across industries, Booths has reported negative customer feedback on the reliability and impersonal nature of self-service. By re-introducing staffed checkouts and bringing its service back in line with its ethos of ‘delighting customers with our warm northern welcome’, Booths is hoping that its customer satisfaction levels will increase.
However, the supermarket’s decision could be a step back for some customers, with many consumers favouring speed, over a human touch. In fact, when we surveyed people on their customer service preferences, it was short waiting times (61%) and quick resolutions of their queries (60%) that were the two most important elements of service for customers. This compared to just 39% that said they valued the option to speak to a trained customer service operator.
In reality, there needs to be a balance. Businesses don’t have to choose between full automation or having customer service representatives. We know that ultimately, consumers are looking for a swift, effective customer experience, particularly in supermarkets so this should be a key consideration. Our LinkedIn poll further supports the need for a balance between staffed tills and self-checkout, with an exact 50/50 split on our followers’ preferred checkout experience at the supermarket.
While it is increasingly important to offer customers a range of choices both in-store and online, the quality of service should not be compromised as a result. This means if automated systems are being offered, team members must always be available, should an issue arise. Businesses can empower their teams to provide a high-quality experience, with the right technology and resourcing in place to enable them to do so.