Seriously, in the age of mobiles, do we still need kiosks?

This is a question I’m often asked, and the answer is yes. Touch screen kiosks definitely have their place, and will do for a long time yet. Not only do kiosks have some distinct advantages, they provide a bridge from the ‘paper world’ to the mobile app world. The use of kiosks should be built in to any change management program for digital transformation, particularly where there is a broad cross-section of users.

As an example of how this is being done, Adelaide Metro has a program of work to provide commuters with useful and timely information, help them to find the specific information they need and reduce the reliance on printed timetables which age quickly and only cater for one route. For its customers, Adelaide Metro wanted to make available digital timetables, route planning tools, real time arrival information, fare information and general announcements such as service disruptions. I recently worked with Adelaide Metro on the roll out a fleet of self service kiosks which were installed in major transport and retail hubs as part of their change management program – essentially a stepping stone to full self-service via web and mobile.

Implementing broad digital transformation programs needs to acknowledge the issue of technology adoption, particularly where there is a large number of customers and a broad demographic – not everybody is familiar or comfortable with technology, so downloading a mobile app can be totally foreign and a significant barrier. A kiosk installed in locations previously used for distributing paper timetables allows all travellers on Adelaide Metro to get the benefit of valuable information and live updates without needing to download an app.
In addition to the issue of technology adoption, the proliferation of mobile apps, means there can be a reluctance for people to download an app for one off or intermittent use. Who hasn’t got a whole lot of apps on their phone that hardy get used – or you’ve forgotten what they even do? So not only would many Adelaide locals not necessarily download an app, visitors and travellers are extremely unlikely to do so given they may only need to access information once. A touch screen kiosk installed in a convenient location is a perfect solution.

For Adelaide Metro, the key challenge was behavioural change required by its commuters and this represented a risk for their digital transformation program. A significant investment in the digital delivery of information would be worthless without the commuters actually consuming this information.

Kiosks also have benefits in their own right, they provide a form of physical engagement in a ‘real’ space. This can be a train station concourse as in the case of Adelaide Metro or a bank or a retail store. When a retailer, for example, has a ‘living, breathing’ customer in their store, the last thing they want the customer to do is pull out their mobile phone as this takes them away from the physical environment – they become disengaged. The kiosk anchors the customer in the physical space while offering value added services such as online product catalogue search, product configuration or visualisation wayfinding or appointment booking.

Digital transformation is a process, and my recommendation is that organisations consider kiosks as a critical step in this process. To help promote behavioural change, kiosks can provide messages to users such as “timetables now available on your mobile phone”. Kiosks are an important tool for bringing your customers on your journey and minimising the risk of change.