Industry News | April 3, 2008

American Consumers Demand More Self-Service Options

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A growing legion of North American consumers use self-service in their everyday lives, and the latest research from NCR Corporation (NYSE: NCR) shows an increasing percentage of individuals actually favor businesses that offer "do-it-myself" options.

The third annual NCR Self-Service Consumer survey, conducted by BuzzBack Market Research, reveals that 86 percent of U.S. and Canadian consumers say they are more likely to do business with a company that offers the flexibility to interact using self-service - whether via the Internet, on a mobile device or at a kiosk or ATM. That's an increase of 11 percent over those who gave the same response in last year's study. Moreover, 56 percent say their likelihood to use self-service has increased over the past year.

"These survey results are symbolic of what lies ahead for self-service," said NCR Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bill Nuti, who announced the survey results today at the NCR Self-Service Universe executive conference in Orlando. "The self-service revolution is real: consumers demand it, businesses depend on it. Whether we are banking, shopping, traveling or interacting with a healthcare provider, more of us look for, and expect, self-service as an 'essential convenience' that improves our overall experience. Businesses and governments have only one choice, and that's to offer more self-service alternatives - and to offer them across a spectrum of channels, including online, mobile and point of service."

In addition to being more likely to do business with enterprises offering self-service, 66 percent of the survey respondents say the availability of self-service technologies creates a more positive perception of the deployer's brand.

"These factors - 'likelihood to do business' and 'brand perception' - together have important implications for customer loyalty, which certainly deserves to be a key criteria for any organization's self-service strategy," Nuti added.

The survey also shows that consumers clearly value the ability to use a combination of self-service channels - their PDA or cell phone, the Internet and touch points such as ATMs or kiosks - to improve their overall experience. For retail transactions, 97 percent surveyed would use a combination of such self-service channels to handle a transaction or service. The findings are similar for banking (95 percent), travel and hotel (94 percent) and healthcare (89 percent).

Speed, convenience and ease of use are identified most frequently by respondents when asked why they would choose self-service over personal assistance in each of four industry sectors:

" financial (faster-70 percent, more convenient-67 percent, easier-52 percent);

" retail (faster-68 percent, more convenient-64 percent, easier-52 percent);

" travel (faster-63 percent, more convenient-61 percent, easier-60 percent);

" healthcare (faster-53 percent, more convenient-50 percent, easier-47 percent).

Among other factors consumers cite as reasons for choosing self-service are heightened privacy and greater control. This is especially the case in the healthcare industry, where 46 percent of respondents say privacy is a priority for their interest in using self-service.

According to Nuti, these consumer findings suggest that despite accelerating adoption of self-service across a variety of industries, the true potential of the technology may still be untapped in many cases.

"Businesses that will profit most from deploying self-service solutions are those that go beyond viewing it as simply task automation," Nuti said. "The real payoff begins when enterprises use self-service to re-engineer their business processes and customer service delivery and, ultimately, to transform their business models."

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