With such a wide range of new POS technologies popping up everywhere, it can be hard to keep track of all the new developments. However, all it takes is an afternoon errand trip to notice a series of interesting POS possibilities. On one recent afternoon, I experienced both major frustration and seamless service at the point of sale. Since it was definitely a “worst to first” type progression, I thought I’d share the story with our readers.
I had an appointment in my city’s downtown business district and gave myself plenty of extra time to find parking in case it was an issue. It was pre-rush hour, but I have seen major parking headaches in this area and thought I’d give myself plenty of time in case of a problem. Finding a space was no issue. I pulled right in and didn’t even have to parallel park. These spaces are metered, but the payment system is automated and operated via kiosks spaced out relatively evenly along the parking zone.
I am almost exclusively a debit and credit card user and never seen to be prepared with cash when the necessity arises. So, imagine my relief when I realized I could “pay and display” with just one quick swipe and be on my way to my appointment!
If only it were that easy. This parking kiosk was experiencing major difficulties. I’m not sure if it was the kiosk’s operating system or the hot late-summer heat that was causing all the issues, but all told it took me nearly five minutes to enter my details, pay, and receive my printed receipt (which I had to wait for in order to display it on the dash). I didn’t really have another option, and I nearly missed my appointment because of the drawn-out process. You know that dreadful feeling when your Mac displays the spinning pinwheel of doom, indicating it’s going to be a while and something’s probably upset your system’s insides? This was like that, only without the nifty icon. Just several long moments of belabored processing, the message “Printing…” displaying on the kiosk’s screen for nearly three minutes. I know – it was only a few minutes, but to today’s consumer that can feel like an eternity!
The takeaway: businesses in this shopping district are being done a major disservice. With downtown rents already sky-high and parking always at a premium, the last thing these merchants want to do is drive customers away with a malfunctioning parking system. What gives?
In the end, it turns out I ultimately made my appointment with a minute or two to spare. Afterwards, I pulled out my card to pay for my services, and with only a quick swipe on the business’ iPad (running Square with the familiar white dongle), I was out the door with a receipt in my email in under a minute. Major win.
My experience that afternoon was definitely influenced by my interactions with computers (not really their human operators) at the point of sale. In one case, it was a seamless experience and a customer service win. In the other, it caused major customer headache and a likely tendency to avoid those spaces (and the businesses on that block) in the future. If I were a merchant on that block, I’d get on the horn to the parking company and give them a piece of my mind.
Written by Kathryn Cunningham
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