The self-service kiosk is finally in place at the MacDonald’s in my neighbourhood. I clicked through the screens to order a coffee and a croissant. The kiosk was easy to use. On that day, there was a line of customers waiting to use the kiosks even though the cashiers were available. The young and old were thrilled to try out the large colourful kiosks.
For MacDonald’s, the launch of the kiosks is a complex undertaking. It has implications on the work for the employees at the till and in the kitchen. Table service is available. A guest experience leader is nearby to help customers with the kiosks. In addition, order fulfillment and inventory management become more demanding as a result of the introduction of order customization.
For digitization to be successful, congruent considerations across the affected areas and the customer touchpoints are important. They include:
The self-service model appeals to those who are eager to get things done themselves because it is simple and hassle-free. The shift of a task to the customer, a business partner, or an internal colleague needs to represent a meaningful migration that generates benefits. These benefits ultimately lead to better service to the customers. For example, the self-service kiosks at MacDonald’s offer order customization. Customers can select their preferred roll, cheese, sauce, and toppings.
Automation replaces the labour component of a task with technology. Excellent deployment of technologies enhances the outcome of that piece of work, the quality of the output, and the job satisfaction of those involved. For example, automating forms completion for a loan application effects these values. The cycle time is shortened because customers don’t need to make an appointment with a loan officer. The completeness of the forms improves because the software checks for missing data fields. The loan officer focuses on qualifying the loan rather than spending time on verifying forms completion. The change eliminates the mundane task.
New technologies introduce needs for new skills and expertise that the current employee pool might not possess. While some of these skills could be trained and coached, others require a completely different set of aptitude. For example, data entry need has been reduced drastically due to the introduction of electronic forms for online completion by customers. Moving a data entry person to a customer service position would be a difficult change if that person has had little exposure to working with customers.
As operations involve multiple functional areas, digitization needs to provide parallel optimization. It would be irrational to automate a task in one area improving its throughput but generating a backlog in another area. The solution needs to bring harmonization so that the end-to-end processes are succinct. For example, the customer relationship management application mechanizes the tracking of client communication. To make the application a standard repository, marketing and account managers must be disciplined in logging pertinent communication with the clients. Failing to do so would diminish the completeness and reliability of the data. Consistency is important here.
Digitization is more than technology deployment. It enhances and potentially overhauls the complete operating model of a business. It is important to note that a successful transformation could be attained when thorough considerations are given so that a holistic solution benefits not only the customers but also the whole company.