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The Green Sheet Online Edition

August 10, 2009 • Issue 09:08:01

Triumphs and travails of kiosk deployments

Self-service kiosks are an important tool for reaching customers with prepaid card products. Situated in supermarkets, convenience stores and financial institutions, automated kiosks can function around the clock and facilitate myriad services. For example, unbanked individuals without access to traditional bank accounts can use kiosks to transfer money, deposit their pay, check balances and pay bills.

But significant effort and resources must be expended to deploy kiosks effectively. A webinar sponsored by the Self-Service & Kiosk Association highlighted three companies whose kiosk deployments proved successful, but not without missteps along the way.

FSCC's risky venture

When the Financial Service Centers Cooperative Inc., which calls itself the largest shared branch network in the United States, realized in 2003 that it needed to expand its services to provide more convenient access for its 36 million customers nationwide, it decided on self-service kiosks.

"We knew we needed something more than an ATM but less than a million dollar brick- and-mortar branch," said Sarah Canepa Bang, Chief Executive Officer at the FSCC.

The kiosk solution agreed upon was a combination of the FSCC's own kiosks deployed at credit unions and the Vcom (Virtual Commerce) units located in 7-Eleven Inc. stores. But Bang was not certain the FSCC's customers would use the kiosks.

Statistics showed that while 85 percent of bank customers visit their branches at least once a month and 50 percent of all banking transactions are performed at branches, only 5 percent of customers are "branch independent," Bang said.

So the FSCC's kiosk proposition rested on the hope that customers set in their ways would use something that wasn't a branch but wasn't an ATM either. Bang's worries were lessened when customers started using the simple-to-navigate kiosks 15 minutes after they were deployed.

The FSCC has found that 60 percent of transactions performed at the kiosks are deposits, with the average deposit amount of $600. Additionally, loan payments have been popular, which has been especially gratifying for the FSCC, given the recession.

With credit unions closing due to the economic downturn, the FSCC was able to retain its customers because kiosks were conveniently located in 7-Elevens within three to five miles of where they live, Bang said.

Avery Dennison's learning curve

According to Faith McPherson, Director, HR Transactional Services at Avery Dennison Corp., the pressure-sensitive technology provider rolled out kiosks on the shop floors of its U.S. manufacturing plants in 2004. The company's goal was to give its blue collar workforce access to employee benefits information, job postings, and paycheck reviewing and printing.

McPherson and her colleagues thought they were providing the company's workers with a valuable service. But they were wrong. "The feedback we got back from the employees at the manufacturing facilities was that we were taking the human out of human resources," she said. "So here we were trying to better things for our shop floor employees, and they saw it as taking something away from them."

What Avery Dennison had failed to do was understand the mindset of its workers, McPherson noted. The company corrected the problem by manning the kiosks with support personnel to help workers understand the benefits of the kiosks and how to use them.

Dave & Buster's powers up

Greg Clore, Vice President, Information Technology at Dave & Buster's Inc., has overseen the deployment of 283 POS and 62 loyalty kiosks in Dave & Buster's restaurants and fun centers in North America. The POS kiosks accept and dispense Power Cards, which are gaming cards used to play Dave & Buster's arcade and video games. The loyalty kiosks allow Power Card customers to enroll in the chain's loyalty program. According to Clore, successful kiosk deployments save companies money in the long run and improve customer or employee satisfaction. In Dave & Buster's case, the kiosks have done both, he said.

The kiosks upsell customers better than Dave & Buster's employees because the kiosks convey a consistent message. The solution also "drastically" reduces costs for the chain by eliminating stations where employees once sold the cards. Furthermore, the kiosks reduce customers having to wait in lines to purchase or reload their Power Cards.

Clore stressed that companies should invest in usability studies to understand what customers want in kiosks and how they prefer to go through the transaction process. In addition, companies should thoroughly investigate kiosk vendors before deciding on the right one based on the company's deployment parameters.

"Another important point is to pilot your kiosk," Clore said. "Measure the result. Are you getting what you need? Change those results if needed. Pilot again. Measure again before you do full deployment."

For more stories from SellingPrepaid E-Magazine, as well as breaking news and forums devoted to the prepaid sphere, please visit greensheet.com. end of article

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