Whether you manage an urgent care, veterinary office, DMV, or a service center, bringing efficiency to the critical first moments of a customer’s visit to your business is likely a top priority.
Expediting check-in is one way to improve your customer experience right from the start. With a self check-in kiosk, you can cut wait times, put your customer in control, and free up time for your employees to devote to more impactful customer interactions.
Here's what you need to know to get started.
What is a self-check-in kiosk?
Self-check-in kiosks are a fast and convenient way for customers to check in without requiring help from an employee. Whether a customer is checking in for a hotel stay, a medical appointment, or a car repair, kiosks can reduce the time spent waiting in line and allow customers to bypass busy reception desks.
The alternative – a manual face-to-face check-in process – is time-consuming, tedious, and costly. Without self check-in kiosks, it’s common to see queues form with long wait times, which sets the stage for a negative customer experience.
According to a recent Waitwhile consumer survey, 75% of consumers said that waiting in line elicits negative feelings including boredom, annoyance, frustration, and impatience, and nearly half of those surveyed said that self check-in would improve the experience of having to wait in a physical line. A self check-in process will eliminate unnecessary wait times and offer customers the convenience they want.
Self check-in kiosks aren’t just a boon to customer experience, they also reduce operational costs. By digitizing check-in, you can reassign employees to other tasks or even reduce the headcount needed to operate at full capacity.
Benefits of kiosk systems
Many types of businesses can easily set up and benefit from self-check-in kiosks. These systems provide a convenient, cost-effective way to operate a pivotal part of your customer flow and reduce the time your guests spend waiting.
Here are the core benefits of kiosk systems.
Shorter wait times
One of the main reasons that businesses use kiosks is to shorten the amount of time customers have to wait before they can be served. There’s nothing worse than standing around while other customers are being served, especially if this is your first time at a new establishment.
With self check-in kiosks, you can speed up the start of your in-person customer journey and serve more customers simultaneously in a cost-effective manner. For example, setting up 10 check-in kiosks is comparatively far less expensive than the ongoing labor costs of the 10 employees needed to accomplish the same tasks.
Speed up the service process
Kiosks can capture the required information you need from your customers, as well as collect any forms that need to be filled out. That helps you and your staff focus on other steps in your service process instead of having to wait while customers complete paperwork.
Increased upsell opportunities
A kiosk system can provide an opportunity for additional sales by offering additional products or services. You can even use a kiosk system as part of a loyalty program to reward frequent visitors with discounts or freebies based on their behavior at your business.
Automation of basic customer processing tasks
With a kiosk system, you can automate many of the essential tasks after the check-in process is complete. For example, you can automatically add a customer to a virtual waitlist and give them directions. On the back-end, you can integrate your self check-in kiosks with any other operational software you may be using to alert your staff that a customer is ready to be seen.
With a queue management system like Waitwhile, all customer data is centrally managed so that all of your staff will know important details about the customer such as what service(s) they want, their preferences, and notes from any past visits.
Essential elements of self-check-in kiosks
There are many types of kiosks, and they all have their own unique characteristics and features. The type you choose should be based on the needs of your business and your desired customer experience.
There are two main aspects to consider: the digital and the physical.
Self-check-in kiosks run on various different operating platforms. The software you use needs to be compatible with the hardware.
Not all software or apps will be compatible with every device. And beware of some software providers that only run on their own hardware.
Choose a digital provider that will give you flexibility – you never know when you might want to swap out the physical devices that you’re using. With Waitwhile, you can use virtually any device (from a tablet to an iPad to a computer) to run your self check-in kiosk.
Kiosks can accommodate a multitude of customer experiences. Some are wall-mounted, whereas others are floor-mounted and placed right by the entrance. You can even simply use tablets if you want to be able to move them around your business.
You don’t need to look specifically for check-in kiosk hardware. You can set-up a flexible and functional kiosk just with a tablet and a stand. For example, here are a couple of options: tabletop tablet stand | floor stand.
The size, shape, and design of your kiosk will depend on your business needs and budget. Think about:
- Power source: Your kiosk needs an electrical outlet to power the display screen and possibly a card reader if you need to collect payment.
- Location in the overall floor plan: Where should you place your kiosk? It depends on your customer flow, how your customers move through your store, and where you need them to interact with your kiosks.
Steps for implementing a self check-in kiosk
Planning is key to running a successful self check-in process with kiosks. Here are some of the steps to consider.
1. Choose your monitor device
The type of monitor you choose will depend on how many customers you need to accommodate and how much space you have available. Most Waitwhile customers use tablets with floor/wall mounts or table-top stands to run their self check-in kiosks. A desktop computer or laptop is also (a more costly) option.
2. Choose the software
The software that runs on your kiosk will determine how easy it is for customers to navigate and use. Be sure to search for an app with an intuitive UI so that your customers won’t have any issues completing the check-in process independently.
3. Find a physical location for the kiosk
Where you place your kiosks can make or break your self-service experience. It's important to choose a location that makes it obvious to guests what the first step is once they arrive at your business.
4. Plan for technical support for the kiosk in case of hardware or software issues
Determine what type of internet connection and bandwidth you need to support your self check-in kiosk. You'll want to either have a trained member on staff who can help you with issues or a way to contact the vendor for tech support in case anything goes awry.
Be sure to have a contingency plan in case of internet outages. Many businesses resort to good ol’ pen and paper in these situations. Ensure that you have printouts of all required forms for guests to fill out and get a printable waitlist template to manage guests waiting to be seen. Alternatively, consider keeping a tablet on hand that can run only with cell phone data reception as a backup.
Get ready: Design your own printable waitlist here
After check-in: Managing your waitlist
Once your customers check-in, you’ll want to clearly communicate next steps. If there’s a wait to be seen, use a virtual queue.
A virtual queue is an alternative to a physical line or a waiting room. If the wait is long, you can allow your customers to leave the premises or encourage them to explore other parts of your business. They’ll stay updated on their place in line via their phones.
Virtual queue management solutions like Waitwhile will keep your guests updated with AI-powered wait time estimates and 2-way communication. If your customer has a question or is running late, they can inform you quickly via text message or email.
Regular wait status updates and a clear line of communication can do wonders for your customer experience. By giving your customers the freedom to do what they want while they wait (rather than sitting in a crowded waiting room or standing in a slow-moving line), virtual queues make waiting feel like not waiting at all.
Learn more: What are virtual queues?
Self check-in kiosks: The bottom line
The COVID-19 pandemic has turned all consumers into digital-first natives. Technology has permeated virtually every aspect of our lives and it’s conditioning us to crave speed and convenience.
Even when it comes to in-person services at brick and mortar businesses, tech-powered experiences can bring key efficiencies and fulfill consistently rising customer expectations. Self check-in kiosks are easy and affordable to set up. Plus, they make a key aspect of your customer flow faster, while cutting costs and improving employee productivity.