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Well Known Supermarket, 2pm, Saturday
Well, I just popped into my local supermarket on a Saturday afternoon and was trying to fathom the new self-service touch screen tills. At the adjacent automated till was a guy who looked like he’d had a few too many and he was muttering to himself about the difficulty he was having trying to use the till system. He proceeded to get quite angry and decided to headbutt the touchscreen which knocked the guy out. He proceeded to slump on the till awkwardly. The till gave out a loud “Unexpected item in bagging area” has the man slumped over the system.
Supermarkets must strike a balance between cost effective products and customer services but computer systems have replaced many members of our workforce in the name of efficiency. As a Usability Consultant I must question the effectiveness of a system that must obtain approval from a member of staff to obtain the age identification of a customer. I realise that a costs-benefits analysis must have been done to examine this particular aspect of automatic tills but one of the key aspects of a good customer experience is the flow of a number of tasks. If you flow is stopped then the customer can begin to get frustrated, distracted and will not wish to relive the same experience again. At the very least the task may become part of the person’s pet hates.
Another key aspect of usability is getting used to a system. If a new system works similarly to systems that the user has previously used to then the learning curve isn’t has steep has using a relatively unintuitive system. Another problem with these systems is the lack of interactivity of people with other people. Communication is a very important aspect of life.