A common phrase in retail and other businesses is that, "the customer is always right" or "the customer is king." These statements point to an overarching truth that if your customer's experience is flawed, they won't give you a second chance. Restaurants have to keep this fact in mind as they compete for a piece of the customer pie. One way for restaurants to get ahead is to build interactive customer experiences through technology such as digital signage.
Digital signage helps improve the customer experience on both sides of the counter, according to Jodi Wallace, chief marketing officer of Acrelec America. Digital signage for example can bring menus to life by adding in animated content such as sizzling burgers and steamy coffee. Customers can also more easily get information on calories on a backlit digital menu than on a dimly lit non-digital board.
"A prominently placed digital order ready display integrates with the kitchen management system to light up with the customer name or order number when a customer’s order has reached the counter, eliminating the need for counter staff to repeatedly call out names over the noisy lunch or dinner crowd," Wallace said. "By using digital order ready boards, counter service staff can focus on servicing customers to move the queue more quickly and increase the number of people they can serve."
Restaurants can automatically update digital menus for the time of day, specials or new items. They can also prominently feature best selling items. This tactic can help create a better customer experience, since customers won't have to look through breakfast items to find their favorite sandwich at lunch.
Restaurants can also deploy interactive digital displays as the surface for customers' tables. Customers can use the display to order food, play a game or read content such as news.
It is not enough, however, to throw up a digital signage menu without putting some thought into the process. If you have a display that showcases the entire menu, for example, but switches too fast between images, you will frustrate your customers.
Christopher Hall, head of the Interactive Customer Experience Association and former editor of Digital Signage Today, wrote about a time he was frustrated by digital signage kiosks that moved between images too quickly or too slowly.
"Right as I walked up, the menu changed to artistic photos of the food. And then changed back. And back again. All too fast to even start reading the rather involved menu," Hall said in the story. "If I couldn't even start to read the menu to see if there was something I liked, why would I waste my time by sitting down to find out there was nothing on the menu I wanted?"
Hall recommended that digital signage media players need to find the right balance so that the display doesn't switch between images too quickly or too slowly, but instead hit that Goldilocks zone of "just right."
Another key is to make sure your digital signage matches up with your other channels, both physical and digital. If your menu online says one thing, but your onsite signage says another, that will confuse and upset customers. Restaurants need to make sure all their digital deployments fit well into their omnichannel pie.
Signage is just one part of building a better interactive customer experience. If a machine only has one working part, then it is a broken machine. Restaurants can't expect signage to solve all their problems, but they can use them as a critical element in their customer experience strategy.