When I arrived at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport last week to check in for my Delta flight, I had one of those high-stress moments: the self-service kiosk wouldn’t print my boarding pass, and the line to the ticket counter stretched halfway to my final destination.
But the really frustrating part was that the same thing was happening to other people, and there were no Delta employees roaming the kiosk floor to help us. So many self-service kiosks, but so few delivering any value for Delta, or its customers.
But it didn’t have to be that way.
There’ve been other times in other airports where I’ve noticed one or more ticketing agents out from behind the counter, assisting and encouraging passengers to use of the kiosks. That’s a smart idea!
By adding some live human assistance to an otherwise purely technological transaction, Delta could get a lot more mileage out of the self service kiosks. Sure, it seems counter-logical (pun intended), to add human costs back into the deployment of a self-service initiative. But by paying one more ticketing agent to assist passengers at the kiosks, Delta would be coming out ahead in two ways:
- They’d process more passengers faster.
- Their customers would have a far better experience, and greater impression that Delta cares.
In her recent blog post, Kerry Bodine of Forrester Research talks about how Apple combines human beings with technology to enhance the customer experience in the Apple retail stores.
This addition of humans to a technology-centric process may seem like it’s going backwards, and defeating the whole purpose of “self service,” but think about it for a moment:
What’s the ultimate goal of customer service? To reduce costs, or to improve the experience of the customer, and the brand equity of your company?
Real humans, effectively combined with technology, can give us both.