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Why kiosks hold the key to data harvesting in 2024


Andy Kaplan, chief data officer, three rocks


Kiosks have become an ever-present part of people’s lives, especially since the pandemic. First normalised in the UK by fast food chains such as McDonalds, we now use kiosks in many areas of our everyday lives. And while they offer ease of service for customers, they also provide huge opportunities for businesses and organisations to learn more about their customers and clients through data harvesting and analysis. 

When a customer interacts with a kiosk, regardless of what setting it is in, they leave behind information about themselves. What menu options do they love? What time did they visit? Did they order to go? Were they picking up a click-and-collect order? Did they choose the table service option? Did they select a different language? Did they link their account using the app?  

Kiosks give you this insight, and more. However, many businesses just aren’t collecting this data effectively, and even those that are, often don’t know how best to utilise it. 

On top of learning about specific customers, kiosks also give businesses the ability to learn about their customer base as a whole. For example, businesses with multiple sites can push different menu items, user interfaces, or offers at different locations, tracking the success of each, and revealing which is more impactful in real-time. This data can then be used to align every location to the best option, even if that looks slightly different for each store. 

This is why kiosks have become so popular for operators and businesses, especially in an increasingly competitive business world, where finding the edge over your competition has become ever more crucial. 

Increasing in popularity across multiple sectors, especially hospitality 

Self-service technology has been around for decades. Dating back to 1967, bank ATMs were the first to be widely adopted. Since then, technology has evolved, and with the constantly improving quality of high-definition touchscreens, kiosks have become a viable option. 

Their widespread adoption has been fuelled by a change in the desired experience of customers. When the pandemic hit in 2020, there was a huge rush from operators in all sectors to adopt contactless ways of working. Consumers got used to this experience. Now, even though everyday life has returned to normality, people still like to use kiosks due to their consistent, fast and reliable service. In fact, some stores such as Burger King have been trialling fully automated front-of-house restaurants, where customers must order and pay using a kiosk. The technology not only brings benefits to customers, it also helps businesses to deliver a consistent quality of experience. 

An opportunity for operators to harvest real-time customer data 

All digital interactions leave a record in the data. If we gather and analyse the data from interactions with a kiosk, we can gain all sorts of insight into customers’ feelings on our brand. Whether it’s the products we provide, our pricing, or the deals we serve to them, we’re able to get real-time, factual feedback on the choices we offer them. 

A kiosk transaction is not filtered through our phones, nor done ahead of time – it’s right here, right now, in the venue, surrounded by, and part of, the brand experience. What guests feel and do at the kiosk reflects what they want from our brand; which is very powerful information. 

Kiosks do what they are told and remember everything. We can ask them to show different things at different times of day, or to different customers.

We can ask them to welcome a returning customer or speak in a different language to an overseas tourist. If we have a theory that a particular action may have a positive impact on our guests’ experience, we can prove it by using our kiosks to run a test, analyse the results and roll out the improvement across the whole business. And this can happen in minutes using real-time data feedback. 

How to effectively collect data from kiosks 

Businesses must make an active decision to harvest and analyse their customer data, and the process should begin when onboarding a technology partner. Make sure that data capture is part of the brief to the supplier. 

When data is used effectively, businesses can use it to shape future business decisions, direct change, and provide the tools needed to enhance experiences for customers. To do this though, leaders must be willing to test and learn over and over again. Data is the key to using good technology effectively. 

Why technology such as kiosks is set to dominate 2024 

From the Sears catalogue in the 19th century, through to supermarkets in the 1950s and the Argos sales operation in the 1970’s, the public have always proved willing to adopt new processes, even seemingly strange ones. 

Consumers may try this out of curiosity or the excitement of something new. However, they quickly form habits, and this is when they find true value in the process. Value exists when something is relevant and significant.

Well-designed kiosk experiences can tick both boxes. They can be relevant because they give customers exactly what they’re looking for, and are significant because they are faster, more consistent, easier to use, and more controllable than the alternatives. 

The next twelve months are set to be transformative for many industries. With the rise of advanced technologies such as AI, automated solutions like kiosks will likely become an extremely effective tool for lots of businesses. They offer real-time feedback on customer behaviour, and are one of the most reliable and fruitful ways to harvest valuable customer data. However, it’s critical that businesses understand how to use this data, because if they do, it can shape everything they do to help grow their business.

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