Self Serve Kiosk Experience at a Movie Theater
My friend and I were in the mall for a quick shopping recently and a sudden decision was made to watch a movie. There was a long queue at the ticket counter(box office) and I stood there waiting for my turn.
I looked at the other side of the counter and saw a big display, it was a self-serve kiosk. I was delighted! who doesn’t feel good skipping the queue?
The Kiosk looked very inviting, ‘Don’t wait in line’ got all my attention, my heart thanked the makers of the kiosk who had helped me skip the long queue. The swiping machines explicitly indicated that I could pay from my card. I started with my task, it didn’t take long enough to make me feel uncomfortable. A couple folks behind me were looking at what I was doing, I was indirectly pressurized to finish my transaction soon.
The touch screen experience was less than average, after selecting the show timing, seats, I was shown food/beverage ad. I wasn’t interested and skipped, the next screen was a similar ad again!
After all the touch-war with the display, I was asked to swipe the card to complete the transaction. The instructions said that I could insert the card or swipe it. I tried inserting and a message popped up on the swiping machine asking me to retry or swipe. Another attempt showed the same error. As an alternate option, I tried swiping the card (unsure whether to flip the card as the black film is at the rear). I got a text alert on the phone which said the amount was debited, but the swiping machine status continued to show that it was trying.
I waited for a few seconds and looked at the display and was shocked to see the payment gateway connection error message!
My attention was spanning through 3 devices now — Kiosk display, swiping machine and my phone. The only option was to hit the ‘recheck’ button on the display which resulted in a run-time error! I was clueless and didn’t know what to do next!
‘Print customer copy’ message appeared on the swiping machine, I hit print and saw a printed merchant copy which wasn’t mine (amount didn’t match).
The swiping machine continued to print and I waited, to my surprise it had printed the whole day’s transaction. I had absolutely no control over what was happening.
All my patience was depleted, I rushed to the counter and asked for assistance.
I was told that the amount would be refunded in the next 48 hours and I should retry or buy the tickets from the counter. It has been more than 2 weeks and I there is no refund.
1. When multiple devices are involved in completing a task, single point of failure should be avoided.
2. Displaying the error message is not enough, show/hint solutions.
3. Never let the user loose control over a task/journey — Doesn’t inspire any confidence.
5. Never use jargon (payment gateway, run-time error).
6. It takes longer time to complete a transaction at a self-serve kiosk as users wouldn’t be familiar with the interface.
7. A quick research revealed that users with smartphones are most likely to use a kiosk service than basic phone users.
1. One easy solution is to leverage users’ mental model — All of the card holders (credit/debit) are familiar with ATM transactions, how about getting rid of the swiping machine’s display, make it look just like an ATM kiosk. Users could follow the instructions, status on the big display and use the external swiping machine only to swipe, enter the pin. This way, error handling mechanism will definitely be smoother.
2. Another convenient/low cost solution that comes to my mind is to let users use their own device to buy tickets. A barcode/bluetooth beacon could help users land on their site — select the movie particulars and pay through their own phone (web)
Thank you for reading. If you find this experience worth sharing then do share with your network.