Upon a recent visit to the bank to deposit a cheque, I was advised by the teller all cheques under $5000 were no longer accepted over the counter and I would have to deposit it via the ATM located just outside the door. The helpful teller offered to accompany me outside and show me how it was done.
We waited in line together for over five minutes for a customer who was struggling with his ATM transaction, even though technically she could have processed my cheque within moments at the counter, allowing me to be on my way sooner however, she apologetically explained this was now against company guidelines.
A few days later at my local Big W store, I approached the registers with my purchase and was faced with the option of no queue at the self-serve registers, while multiple customers lined up waiting to be served at the one and only staffed checkout open. I opted to wait in line for a person to serve me, just like numerous other customers, while the self-service registers stood idle.
I then encountered exactly the same thing at the supermarket, where people were opting to wait in line for a checkout operated by an employee, rather than processing their own purchase at one of the multiple self-serve registers available.
It dawned on me, it wasn’t customers driving the increase of self-serve technology in bricks and mortar stores, rather businesses pushing people towards this option by giving them little choice or in some cases like the bank, no choice at all.
Certainly people in recent times have enjoyed the convenience of online shopping, taking themselves through the entire purchasing process however, when they actually take the time to visit a store or branch, they seemingly still prefer to be served by a person rather than a machine.
We even see customers becoming annoyed when less staff are employed at the expense of technology, some even boycotting self-serve registers or the business altogether.
It’s no argument, it’s tough for business facing increasing cost of wages among other challenges but if they choose to push customers in a direction they don’t really want to go and customers see little point of difference or benefit in visiting a bricks and mortar location, they will do nothing but push people towards shopping online. Or, towards a competitor who is bravely standing out from the crowd and giving people what they want and that is old fashioned customer service by a human being.