Innovation in kiosks

Two days ago, I had the chance to visit SNS Bank in the Netherlands. I was there to tell them about the innovative things that Getronics does around the world in financial services. And I spent some time, actually, talking about some of the work we’ve been doing with kiosks in various Branch of the Future projects.

As became very clear to me during my visit, SNS are one of those very rare banks that are truly innovative in the way that they approach their market.

So I was surprised, but shouldn’t have been I suppose, to see the following innovation in their reception area:

What is this? A seat cushion with embedded touchscreen display. Customers can come in, sit down, and play. They have access to all the corporate web sites of SNS, and, presumably other financial services sites.

I saw many people just sit down and use these cushions. And it struck me that here was a very, very clever way to get over adoption issues that you ordinarily have with kiosks.

It is instructive to look at the way airlines have encouraged customers to use their automated check-in facilities at airports: they often have someone standing right there to force customers to use the machines. I’ve actually seen  staff pull people out of queues and take them to automated kiosks. And the other day, someone working behind the check-in counter of BA told me that they actually have quotas to reach for automated checkin.

The point is that people don’t like to use new things unless they have a good reason. And in implementations of kiosks in branches, it is generally a challenge to get people to go up to them and try them out. The value proposition of a kiosk based in a branch is not as obvious to a customer as, say, an ATM.

The SNS approach takes these issues away. Instead of asking the customer to go to the kiosk, put the kiosk where the customer is going anyway: to the waiting area.The kiosk is sitting on the seat right beside them. It is just too tempting to explore this unusual object, and the customer is likely to be bored whilst waiting anyway. And it  makes it simple and private to explore the functionality with noone to see if anything funny happens.

I first saw these and thought “gimmick”. But when you watch people use them, you realise just how clever SNS have been here.

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