I love the fact that we live in an era where self-service is becoming the norm. Flying to Cape Town? No problem. You can check in online and print your own boarding pass. Want to draw some cash on a Sunday afternoon? Just head off to the ATM down the road. Need to reset the error codes on your decoder? Just login to the app or website and Voila it’s as easy as pie. Well, I can’t say the same for a certain cinema that, after recent renovations, changed their self-service terminals to include ordering of refreshments.

Whilst I am not a regular movie goer, on the rare occasions when I have been to the movies, I made use of the self-service terminals and, every time, I had to seek the assistance of the cinema staff. The experiences have left me frustrated and not willing to return. Selecting and buying a movie ticket should be easy, right? Well I also would have thought so.  I watch the other movie goers wander around aimlessly not sure where to go and what to do. The queues are long and slow. If you just want to buy a movie ticket (without refreshments), you have to wait behind somebody that is a) trying to figure out how to use the terminal and b) deciding between Smarties and Astros and realising that they have made a mistake flag down one of the cinema staff for assistance.

Taken directly from Wikipedia “Self-service is the practice of serving oneself, usually when purchasing items”.

There are a number of reasons why businesses move towards self service offerings. Firstly, it reduces the number of staff required to serve customers which means that there are fewer resources to manage. In most cases it is available 24/7 which makes it very convenient for the customer and has a direct benefit on the business brand and reputation. However, it needs to be designed and implemented very carefully. A simple transaction can quickly turn into a complicated one.

When designing systems and processes I often wonder whether the discipline of HCI (Human Computer Interaction) is included in the design principles. HCI can be defined as the study of how people interact with computers and its goal is to improve the interaction between users and computers by making computers more user friendly and receptive to user’s needs.

Technology evolves at a rapid pace and can do more complex things, but humans do not evolve at the same pace. We need technology to simplify our lives and not complicate it. So, when designing and implementing systems and processes, please bear this in mind else I will wait to watch the movie in the comfort of my own home.