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Costs and Benefits of Installing a Bill Payment Kiosk

Many businesses looking to differentiate themselves from the competition and add a new, low maintenance revenue stream, have turned to installing bill payment kiosks.

Kiosks allow utility customers a safe, secure, and convenient way to pay for their utilities, such as power, water, phone, and cable. They are typically found in retail facilities, such as grocery and convenience stores. Your customers appreciate the convenience a bill pay kiosk offers, and you enjoy the additional revenue.

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Reduce Long Lines

For years, retailers have offered customers the convenience of paying their utility bills through the retailer's customer service counter. Unfortunately, this often presents an issue in terms of long lines, especially during common due dates.

These lines create an aggravation for both your employees and your customers. Customers looking to handle common tasks, such as purchasing money orders or items available only at the customer service counter, often turn away at the sight of a long line. Those looking to pay their bill often feel the same way. What's more, when customers experiencing an issue wait in line for long periods of time before receiving assistance, their annoyance by the time they reach your employee grows even greater than whatever sent them to that counter in the first place.

All of this adds up to create an unpleasant working environment for your staff. In addition, it pulls them away from performing other necessary duties, reducing the efficiency of your store.

A bill payment kiosk alleviates this problem, and frees up your staff to address the issues of your actual clientele.

Convenience

The convenience factor of these bill pay kiosks cannot be overstated. Customers appreciate being able to complete a wide variety of errands in one place. If they can walk through your doors, pay their power and water bills, and then also get their shopping done in the same place, they recognize the value of this. No longer do they have to travel to multiple utility offices, or worry that they won't make it before closing time.

Offering this convenience benefits you, as well. Most of these customers reward businesses that cater to their needs this way. They'll give you the majority of their business, even when they don't have a utility bill due.

Ease of Use

Bill payment kiosks are simple and user-friendly. With fully automated features, paying bills is easier than ever before. Most machines are touch screen, and even offer users a multilingual interface. In addition, most accept a wide variety of payment options, from coins and cash, to credit and debit cards.

Average Costs

The average cost of the machine itself varies widely, though it typically falls between $3,000 and $10,000. This price includes only the machine, not software customized for your organization. Software costs vary even more widely, depending on your needs, and start at around $3,000 and go up to around $20,000. In addition, you need to pay a licensing fee for each kiosk. Licensing fees average around $500 per license.

The average warranty lasts 12 months and covers hardware, but not parts and labor. Buying an extended warranty adds around 20 percent to the total cost. Used kiosks are available at a lower price, between 25 and 50 percent less on average.

Average Financial Benefits for the Operator

The stores choosing to operate these machines see significant, multiple financial benefits.

According to a report by RVA Market Research, bill payment kiosk customers spend an additional $24.98, on average, each time he or she uses a bill payment kiosk. With an estimated 30 percent of utility customers choosing to pay their bills in person rather than online or via mail, this additional revenue adds up quickly. What's more, this increase in revenue comes with zero advertising costs or effort on the store's part. Those customers are going to whatever store offers them the convenience of paying their utility bills via a kiosk.

Stores also choose to pull the funds from the machine in the morning, and use the cash from the kiosk as a no-charge float loan for activities like check cashing. That means fewer bank withdrawals and more fee-generating funds.

Increasing Kiosk Usage

There are things the store can do to increase bill payment kiosk usage. First, younger people, under age 50, feel more comfortable using these kiosks. If you have multiple locations and only want to implement a kiosk in one or two of them, choose a location with a heavier population of younger people, such as near college campuses. Also, newer developments, which typically attract younger families, make great locations.

Finally, make sure the kiosk does not look like an ATM. Customers need to recognize it as a bill payment kiosk.

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