PUBLIC INTERNET NEWS 2001
Issue #216 June 7, 2001
Offering news and tips concerning the Public Internet
Industry. Each month we will bring you the latest information on
what's hot and what's not when it comes to offering Internet Access
to the public. Please feel free to contact us with any information
or feedback you may wish to contribute (yes, we will be publishing
contributing articles). We look forward to hearing from you!
MEET YOUR NEW BOSS...YOUR CUSTOMER.
They are the key to your success...
and you have two of them!
Who is your customer? It's the person
using your Internet Terminal and the business
that acts as the host.
You need to keep both these customers happy
to ensure your long-term success for each location.
The most difficult part of maintaining customer satisfaction
is communicating with the customer. In other service
businesses, there is a human contact between the
customer and the service business. In our case,
the computer is the point-of-sale.
Attended locations will hear exactly how the customer
feels when there is a problem...and then YOU will hear it!
I don't want to scare anyone - I just want to emphasize
that keeping your customers (and your hosts) happy
will secure your Public Internet Vending future for
years to come.
Now what can you do to create a winning customer
service strategy for your locations?
1) EDUCATE YOUR CUSTOMER
First, you need to start with the source of your
income - the Public Internet Terminal.
You need to make it as user-friendly as possible.
The software package that you use most definitely
allows some type of rotating graphic and/or web page
integration to use for advertising purposes. This
is where you need to supply very clear, concise
instructions on how to make a payment, initiate a session
and use the programs provided on the terminal.
Don't be afraid to make it ultra-simple. The folks
who know what they're doing probably won't read it anyway!
We have had enormous success providing three panel brochures
with detailed instructions next to every one of our terminals.
People like to read. If they can read all about your
terminal before having to use it, it will build their confidence
and increase the likelihood of usage.
Be sure not to forget about the host! They need to
know how everything works so that they can pass on the
knowledge to the customers. Offer free online time
in exchange for their help - it's worth every penny
and then some. Spend some time going through the details
with the host face-to-face. This way you can answer their
questions as they arise.
2) OPEN A CHANNEL OF COMMUNICATION
Be sure to tune in carefully to the customer and the
host location. Problems can always be resolved as long
as no one feels isolated. Be sure to respond as quickly
as possible to any type of service call, and the host
will often be very responsive to your suggestions.
The first communication channel is with the customer.
The best way to gather their feedback on your service
is to offer a free, web-based feedback form on the
terminal. This allows customers to rate their experience
and the information can be emailed to you immediately.
You can also provide a feedback form on the back
of the three panel brochure mentioned earlier. For
installations with a kiosk cabinet, you can put in a
feedback slot with a box to catch the inserted forms.
If the slot is not practical, the customer can simply
leave the form at one of the service counters.
This is very powerful as it allows you to improve your
service offerings and respond to customer inquiries
quickly and efficiently. This will cover the basic
customer service issues and wish lists, but for the
more pressing problems, the host will need to get involved.
That brings us to the second channel of communication.
Your communication with the host is easily the most
important aspect of maintaining a long-term service
agreement. If the host calls you with problems and/or
questions about the terminal, they expect an immediate
response. Can you blame them? The customer is breathing
down their necks while you're soaking up the sun in Aruba! :)
Seriously, regardless of what type of establishment we're
talking about, customer service is a very big issue. It may
be your Internet Terminal, but to the customer, it is a
service provided by the host. That is why it is absolutely
imperative to respond to any and all issues promptly. If the host
feels that their level of customer service is suffering,
they will not hesitate to remove your machine.
3) PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE IS THE KEY
Resolve the problems before they occur, and all parties
end up winners.
Put yourself in the customer's shoes. Imagine what
could go wrong, and how you would want it made right.
The biggest issue we would all face is some type of
service interruption after a payment has been made. A
customer inserts one dollar and begins a 5 minute session.
After two minutes, the system locks up. The customer
panics and demands the first-born child of the nearest service
attendant in exchange for his/her dollar. (You would be
As far as the machine goes, a simple reboot can often do
the trick...but what about the dollar?
We use courtesy cards in cases like this. The customer
is given a complimentary 15, 30 or 60 minute prepaid card
to use the terminal. They only bought 5 minutes? Give them
15 - Problem solved.
That's one of the easy ones...what about a hard drive crash?
Well, there are several ways to handle the situation - just
be sure to handle it before it happens! Have as many disaster
recovery plans as you can ahead of time, and you won't panic
when a real one occurs.
Removable hard drives are a great way to handle software corruption.
You can easily ship a drive replacement to the location
and have a service technician perform the installation.
Hard drives are quite inexpensive these days, so it may be worth
your while to install a mirror drive that can be activated
when one goes bad.
These are just a few examples of the types of resolutions
you can come up with easily ahead of time, with a clear head.
It's well worth the time investment - we learned the hard way,
and I've never stopped kicking myself for it!
This business, like any other, thrives on the satisfaction
of your customers. The hardest part is finding out whether
or not they are satisfied! Keep communication with the host
location active. If you haven't heard from them in a while,
give them a call, and ask how things are going. They will
develop trust in you, and will be VERY reluctant to try anyone
else. Your business relationship will prosper.
DEAL OF THE MONTH
HERE'S A BEAUT!
Looking to start out your Internet Vending Business
with a bang?
This kiosk is a beautiful, custom designed unit
with an elegant wood finish to fit in to just about
It has not seen public usage yet, still looking for
a home. The owner will consider any reasonable offer.
You can view the kiosk on the site:
For more details, email [email protected]
Thank you for your time, and best of luck to all of you.
Media 1 Incorporated
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