My Self Checkout Customer Experience Fail

Okay, I’m just going to say it, I HATE self checkouts. Seriously, I HATE them.  This loathing began years ago when the first self checkouts started being introduced in grocery stores.  Now they are enveloping almost all service spaces and don’t seem to be going away.

At first thought the self checkout seems like an amazing idea, but in reality it’s a whole different story.

Last week I was in the grocery store, in a bit of hurry and there was a long line at the regular checkout.  The self-serve line was completely empty, so I decided to give it another chance.

What would normally be a 5 minute checkout process turned into a very frustrating experience.  First, I had to look up the code for every piece of fruit I had in my basket (who knew there were so many types of apples!!).  Next, when I obviously punched a code in incorrectly, I had to wait for an attendant to bypass a screen for me in order to continue scanning my items.  Then, I had to wait again for human help because I brought my own bags and the system didn’t recognize the weight in the bagging area. Does this story sound familiar?!?

The funny thing (or not so funny at the time) was that I noticed the person who was at the end of the regular checkout line, already had his groceries bagged and was leaving the store before I finished my self checkout process.

Here’s why my self checkout experience was a mega Customer Experience Fail:

1.    It was not fast. In theory I think the self checkout is meant to speed up the process, but in my experience this is never the case.  Cashiers are usually experts in their products. They typically have most (produce type) barcodes memorized and can multi-task scanning and bagging duties to get you through the line quickly.

2.    It was not friendly. There was nobody to greet me, ask how my service was and if I had found everything I needed.  In fact, the human interaction I did experience was not friendly because the attendant was responsible for monitoring 6 self-checkout machines and was frantically running back and forth between them trying to fix the errors with no the time to personally interact with me.

3.    It was not hassle free.  I had to search my own produce barcodes, bag my own items, and trouble shoot all of the computer errors.  If I would have used a full serve checkout, I would not have experienced any of these problems.

4.    It was not personalized. I found it especially annoying that my self-checkout service was delayed by bringing my own bag (which we are encouraged to do).  When I go through a full service checkout the cashier can personalize my bagging requirements.

5.    It was not authentic.  A computer will never provide you with more authentic customer experience than a human. Self checkouts are designed automate, which is the exact opposite of authentic.

By the time I finished all of this, I was getting a bit hangry and just wanted to go home and eat the whole bag of my double stuffed golden Oreos.

Customers want fast, friendly, hassle-free customer service. Personalized, authentic interactions are the only thing that set apart human service from robots.

Do you have a #CustExpFail story?  Share with me in the comments below!

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