Are Self-Checkout Kiosks Ruining Customer Service in Arizona?
Self-checkout kiosks are becoming the bane of our existence in Arizona. Ever since they were first installed in large retail outlets and fast-food restaurants, I saw the writing on the wall.
I get it. Every business owner will tell you that labor is the most expensive part of doing business. Employee wages, benefits, payroll or other related taxes are part of labor costs, and that can tally up to as much as 70% of total business costs. Not to mention the added expense when an employee is injured or calls out sick.
I get it. Now that businesses have the ability to pass this mundane task onto the customer, they're absolutely going to take it, just to cut costs.
At the intersection where minimum wage is climbing and computer automation has become more mainstream, it's no wonder more retailers are passing this task onto its customers. And with the rise of remote ordering apps, the days of having a front-counter cashier hanging around just to take orders may be going away permanently.
When Technology Fails
This concept works for most of us, but it's not for everyone. A few weeks ago, I was waiting in the lobby of a local fast-food restaurant. I won't mention the establishment by name, mostly because this could have happened in any number of restaurants. I'll let you use fill in the gaps here.
I sent my order ahead through the app and decided to come into the store, since the drive thru line was pretty long. While I was waiting, an elderly man walked in.
The man regarded the order kiosks just inside the door, looked momentarily confused, then decided better of it and headed toward the counter. He attempted to wend his way through the confusing throng of waiting Door Dashers in an effort to place his order.
He Who Hesitates...
I saw him hesitate. In the loose tangle of people waiting for orders, he couldn't decide if they were waiting in line to place orders, or if something else was happening. Plus, a group of employees were crowded around the register for some reason even I couldn't figure out, which made his confusion even deeper.
So, the man waited politely, hoping to either be acknowledged by the employee behind the register or for someone to indicate what was going on here. The employee avoided eye contact completely, and never acknowledged the man.
Hello. This is a Customer.
I finally stepped in and called the attention of the guy behind the counter and let him know this guy clearly wanted to place an order, the old-fashioned way. The poor man thanked me, but the employees looked genuinely irritated by the interruption.
I was shocked! I remember a time when customers were greeted the moment they walked in the door, their needs quickly assessed. And I'm not talking "back when I was a kid"! I mean three or four years ago, back before the pandemic messed up everything.
Where is Customer Service?
I know computers have steadily replaced so much we do in our day to day lives, but now it seems to have completely erased even basic customer service.
Now that this genie is out of the bottle, I know there's no going back to the way things were, but I hope restaurants and stores remember there are still those among us who need that one-on-one attention!