Paresh Patel's 'How to Prepare for the Post-Pandemic Customer' is a good summary of customer expectations around the transactional kiosk process moving forward, but it misses a key component that I've been hearing in talking with customers over the past several months. It is going to be critical that retailers accommodate the new 'touch-averse' customer segment that's now hyper-aware aware of the potential for pathogen transmission. COVID-19 may not be the prime candidate moving forward, but there have always been (and will continue to be) many viruses and bacteria that are transmitted through touch – and the pandemic brought hygiene and contact awareness back into sharp focus for everyone.
Offering a touchless option will be an important way to earn customer and visitor trust – it's an obvious and objective visual cue for businesses to say 'hey, we're concerned about your safety' that regular cleaning can't deliver. It's not obvious when something was last cleaned, or how well it was cleaned, so there's always a bit of an unknown as to how sterile a surface really is. A touchless interaction option is instantly verifiable and actionable; retailer hygiene practices are not.
I liken this to when grocers started putting out sanitizing wipes near the shopping carts (many moons pre-pandemic). Not everyone used them, but it made everyone feel better knowing they had the option to take hygiene into their own hands if they felt uncomfortable. Touchless digital interaction is the sanitizing wipe of the future, but without the waste or ongoing labor requirements.