Kiosk Series: Tablets Change Customer’s Expectations

This post is the first in a series that will examine everything it takes to use tablets as kiosks, from the purpose of the kiosk, to the hardware, the software and more. Please check back often. If we miss anything, let us know in the comments.

Mobile computing is just getting started, but it has already changed user expectations in two important ways: first, where computing can happen; and second, what kind of experience people expect.

Let’s start with where computing happens. Even with the lightest, sleekest laptop computer, all of the action has to happen on a desktop — mouses and keyboards need a big flat area to work well. PCs are powerful, but there just aren’t that many places where they’re useful. Unlike PCs, clipboards and paper are resilient and portable, but they have no computing power. What’s so disruptive about tablets is that they combine the portability of paper with the power of a personal computer.

Tablets also set demanding new user expectations for how devices should work. Dealing with an app directly on the glass turns out to be dramatically different than clicking and sliding a mouse around. The relationship between the app and the user is more tactile, and therefore much more intimate. Tapping, pinching, swiping, and spreading things seems perfectly natural. In addition, because tablet screens are smaller, app designers have to focus on an app’s essential capabilities, rather than dropping a large toolbox of functions on the user.

People just love the experience, which explains why Apple shipped 17 million iPads in its most recent quarter. Some of the things users love to do with tablets include:

  • Get answers quickly
  • Watch movies and shows
  • Read and watch the latest news
  • Read books
  • Look at photos and video
  • Get organized: track items to do, take notes, check the calendar, manage contacts, read email
  • Play games

So, tablets are great for consumers, but what does this trend mean for businesses that want to take better care of their customers? Because tablets are affordable, there are limitless opportunities to serve your customers in innovative new ways.

How can your business put tablets to work to take better care of your customers and help your staff to be more organized? Here are some ideas:

  • Customer self-service — when it makes sense, especially for the simple things, let your users take care of themselves.
  • Instant customer feedback — let your customers tell you what they think of your business right away. Don’t wait for a follow-up call or an email that they’ll be too busy to bother with.
  • Entertain your customers — if there’s a situation where customers need to wait, give them something fun to do.
  • Sales assistance — use a tablet to get past traditional sales obstacles. Help prospects get quick answers and visualize the solution working for them.
  • Streamline store operations — keep your sales team in the know.
  • Interactive signage — post tablets in critical areas to help your customers know what they need to know at just the right time and place.
  • Manage schedules — show who is using a conference room when, or what the schedule is for other critical resources.
  • Education — customize the learning experience by giving a tablet to each student.

In future posts we’ll talk more in more detail about each of these scenarios.

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About the Author: Michael Girdley