Checking Out Self-Reliance Technologies

Photo by yanyanyanyanyan

Ever wonder why people wait in line at the grocery store check-out or the public library when self-check-out is available? I’d like to argue that in a digital culture, we get emotional support from live human transactions. The neuroscience proves that the more social our technologies become, the more human contact we‘ll crave: hi-tech/hi-touch. So it’s not about efficiency.

Transacting at check-out is all about having a plush human exchange. This is where brand personality shines. For example, at my library there are a couple of librarians who lavish patrons with eye contact and smiles. People will cue up to have their books checked out by these librarians, while self-check-out is idle nearby.

In grocery stores, self-check-out is a bust. The process is clunky and riddled with errors that cause delays. Invariably the customer is forced to seek help anyway as the robot voice scolds them about unscanned items. It’s a downright punitive customer experience.

The trouble with some self-reliance technologies is that they are replacing something that people value more and more – positive human connections. More importantly, technologies that attempt to fix the problem of lousy customer service using the fig leaf of hip technology is an infuriating idea. When I saw this video about a mobile app for shoppers, I couldn’t help but wonder: what problem is this solving? Efficiency? Self-reliance? User freedom?

Or is it a techno-fix for bad customer service at check-out? The latter doesn’t need an app. It needs leadership.

See for yourself. Would you adopt this mobile app for your shopping trip?