Self-Checkout and Your Customers

Recent news reports seem to indicate a backlashoccurring with some grocers toward the self-checkout.  The primary concern being voiced by thenaysayers has always been the perceived impact it has on the customerservice.  Many grocers who have workedhard to establish a strong customer service culture believe the self-checkouterodes that philosophy and eliminates the important contact needed to buildthose important relationships with their customers.

Unfortunately, this mindset is short-sighted and misses themark on what the self-checkout offers store operations to promote theircustomers' satisfaction.  What theseoperators fail to realize is that offering the self-checkout option enhancesthe experience by giving the customer a choice. Traditional checkouts will always be preferred by certain segments ofthe population.  Other segments willalways select the self-checkout when it's an option.  However, there are other segments of peoplethat appreciate choice simply based on the situation; for instance, dependingon their order size, time of day or night, conventional lanes' customervolume/order sizes, etc.  When thesemoments present themselves many appreciate the opportunity to choose theirpreference producing higher customer satisfaction.

The other important change the self-checkout facilitates instore operations is affording a shift of staff resources from the front end tothe floor.  This is where many importantopportunities for interaction and assistance can be created (or missed); makingcontact, building strong relationships and achieving a very satisfying customerexperience.  By training a knowledgeableself-checkout shopper assistant to monitor, assist and intervene as requiredwith multiple self-checkout lanes, you can create a very positive self-checkoutexperience.  In addition, it allows thefreed up front-end staff to be re-trained and re-allocated to beJohnny-on-the-spot for the customers on the floor needing help findingsomething, making a decision, offering free samples or any other ideas you caninvent to generate customer contact.

Ultimately, the customer appreciates the choice ofself-checkout and the grocer can appreciate the opportunities it creates togenerate new customer service experiences on floor as well as thefront-end.  The self-checkout solutionclearly advances the customer service objectives and will continue to grow as aservice model in many industries and organizations.