I had to make a late night run to our local grocery store the other night (thumb tacks for a seventh grade school project). After finding the thumb tacks I was disappointed to get to the front of the store and find that the "self-checkout" lines were closed. The only option was to go through a "normal" check out line. There was no wait but I was still disappointed.
Why is that blog worthy? Because when the self-checkout lines first got installed, I detested them. I hated that voice commanding me to put my groceries in the bag and refusing to let me do anything else until I did. I also detested having to wave my box of spaghetti (yeah, I still call it spaghetti--not pasta) five or six times over the bar code reader at every angle conceivable to get it to read. And I really hated trying to find my produce in all the little pictures (felt some kind of test).
Apparently my fellow shoppers felt the same way, because every time I was ready to check out, there were lines at the normal checkouts and nobody was using the 4 self-checkout machines. Maybe it is just me, but I hate doing nothing and I hate reading about what Brad and Angelina are doing to break Jen's heart and about who is too fat and who is too skinny. In fact, I hated it even more than the self-checkout process so I started using self checkout.
Just like anything new, there was a bit of a learning curve but it got easier. In fact, I think I can safely say I'm now as fast as Sandra down on cash register 3! Here is the amazing thing: I'm not alone. It is rare now to not see a line for the self-checkout machines. It turns out the machines gives us just what we wanted in the first place: faster checkout (or at least the perception of faster checkout).
The lessons? Well, first a better implementation of the checkout machines would probably have hastened their acceptance, but beyond that sometimes customers need time to learn and get comfortable with new innovations. Had store management reviewed the self-checkout performance after the first three months I'm sure they would have been seen as a dismal failure. Next time you're planning an innovation in your customer experience, don't forget to include learning time.