How Self-Service Kiosks Are Changing Customer Behavior

McDonalds isn’t the first fast food chain to consider giving customers more control over their orders using technology (though there’s a fair amount of debate about whether customization is really the best way forward for the struggling company). Many of its competitors have been experimenting with self-service apps and kiosks, finding that when customers use them, they tend to spend more money. Taco Bell recently announced that orders made via their new digital app are 20% pricier than those taken by human cashiers, largely because people select additional ingredients. Chili’s, after installing self-service tablets, reported a similar increase in dessert orders. Cinemark theater’s new self-service kiosks have “had concession spending per person climb for 32 straight quarters.”

Source: hbr.org

HBR talked with Ryan Buell, an assistant professor at the Harvard Business School, who studies the intersection of operations and customer behavior. It turns out that self-service technologies can pretty dramatically change what people do and how they act – though the research is hardly clear-cut on it being the best option for all businesses. An edited version of our conversation is below.




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