For years we’ve pumped our own gas and bagged our own groceries, but now we’re checking ourselves in at the airport and pretty soon we’ll be doing the same at our hotel. Analysts say currently one-third of all “service interactions” are self-serve and in four years the majority will be do-it-yourself. And while many self-serve ventures have proven successful, others have flopped, including a greeting card kiosk that customers could use to design their own message. Experts say the system failed because it was just too complicated. “The secret of self-service is four words: Don’t Make Me Think,” says Francie Mendelsohn, president of Summit Research Associates. The big draw for many Americans who hate waiting is the opportunity to avoid the long lines typical of airport check-ins or Home Depot check-outs. A recent study found that 38% of air travelers now use the check-in kiosks, cutting their waiting time in half. “I don’t need to burn calories telling somebody who I am, where I am going and what seat I want,” says one frequent flyer, who’s a self-service convert. 

Orlando Sentinel 16 Jan 2006