What is a digital self-service solution? 

Self-service is a service operating model in which the customer does something that the company employees normally do to serve the customer. The act can be done e.g. via application or a device. Most often self-service is understood to be commercial service that customer is allowed to operate without staff member to make a payment. As it simplest, it can be a grocery store where customer picks the goods of the shelfs without any interaction with company employees. Good examples of effective self-service concepts are Posti’s OmaPosti, Neste mobile refueling or Ikea’s warehouse.


Why do we need digital self-service concepts?  

Serving customers is becoming more demanding a day by day. Nowadays, rush hours are tried to be avoided and long customer service times are pushing customers to shop online. Seems like getting the goods on-demand is the only thing that still keeps stores alive. On this matter stores are winning the race against online services, as the good or service is delivered without shipping delays. 

To level the effectiveness of the online sales, the customer experience must be developed all the time. Longer open times, faster service, cheaper prices etc. are expected by the customers.  

There are also many other ways to close the cap, but in many ways the self-service is the best way.  

What are the benefits then? It’s obvious that when you put a system to do a job that is used to do by a man, it will save you money in long term as you don’t need to hire employees to do the task. For example, a self-service kiosk can operate alone and operational costs are same regardless of time. Tasks done by a system also offers you more consistent service. Well-designed self-service concept reduces change for the human errors and improves customer experience. 

I believe that we agree that good employees can be never replaced by any system. However, self-service and employee acting a side by side gives employees change to serve the customers that really requires that. The gained extra time from serving correct customer groups can be used to improve quality of the service and operational effectiveness.  

The shopping experience must be developed all the time.

How to operate?  

Self-service concepts are always based on trust between customer and company providing the service. We often label the operation models either to unattended or attended model which describes the level of supervision in the location. Depending on the model, the service is based entirely or partially on trust. 

In some cases, legislation adds requirements to the operation model: 

Attended model: Service like grocery store where customer collects the goods and pays in the checkout.  The checkout process is supervised by a staff member.  Unattended model: Service like petrol station where customer uses payment terminal and the dispenser nozzle to fill the tank. Process is completely unsupervised.  

Company, which is providing a self-service concept, always feel them vulnerable at the beginning. In transformation from good old supervised service to digitalized service that is totally understandable.  

Thankfully, the trust issue can be eased with many ways. 


Monitoring and alerts 

Unfortunately, sometimes machines and systems stop functioning properly. In unattended model unnoticed fatal failures can cause service suspension which will affect directly to revenue. On this case you cannot rely on customers to report the problem to the customer service. With monitoring solution, you or your partner in maintenance, can follow the activities in location. It means that a person will use monitoring solution in real-time or afterwards to follow or investigate activities. Normally, monitoring is done during the service time in agreed service level. 

To make monitoring even more effective, you can use automatically triggered alerts. Alerts can be received from predefined cases that can be identified. Using alerts will reduce the amount of time used to monitor solution in real-time and it highlights the most important activities directly to you. 


Proactive maintenance ensures continuity of service 

Best thing in real-time monitoring and alerts is that it will enable use of predictive maintenance. Predictive maintenance means that a person can estimate need of maintenance for the solution and most importantly react before possible failure is affecting to usability. 


How to kickstart your trip to digital self-service and digitalized service models? 

Etteplan More has extensive experience in designing, developing and maintaining self-service solutions. We are a software unit of Etteplan. Our technical knowledge and capability to combine service and business design to achieve best possible solution to serve both customer and end users needs has been proved to be first-class.  

That’s why some of the biggest self-service pioneers in Finland has selected us to provide and take care of the solutions. 

Contact us and let´s discuss about your needs, we are here to support your trip to digitalization! 


This is the first article of a series about digital self service. There is MORE to come!