How often have you taken a seat in a waiting room only to look up and see a large, flat-panel television showing adverts, infomercials and local news?
You probably think to yourself: ‘Interesting, but how long am I going to be sitting here?’.
In the retail and medical setting, digital signage can help keep customers informed. But, more often than not, these costly assets end up becoming underutilised entertainment systems - adding little real value to the customer experience.
So, how much value is your digital signage adding to your customer experience?
If the answer is: not much, then keep reading, because when combined with technologies like queue management and appointment scheduling, digital signage can play a powerful role in your customer experience strategy.
Tailoring your marketing content
Typically, digital signage used in waiting rooms and lobbies displays a rolling playlist of media or a local news channel. But how useful and relevant is that information to the person waiting to be served?
For instance, the information relevant to visitors on a Monday may differ significantly from those visiting on a Thursday. Equally, relevance may vary from morning to midday, from summer to winter and from one region to another.
The optimum solution is to use real-time customer arrival and behaviour data to deliver content specific to an audience.
If, for example, the majority of customers are waiting to see a client services agent about updating their account details, why not deliver content about your online services? Or, when a VIP customer enters the branch, show a certain amount of premium content?
Furthermore, some solutions can even analyse where a customer is waiting in a branch; allowing you to deliver specific content to specific screens - home loan information to customers waiting to open a mortgage account.
Accurate wait time information
In its simplest form, digital signage could show a list of customers who have been ‘called’ for a service.
In a single queue environment, this may be as simple as:
However, in a more complex setting, where customers have diverse requirements and need pairing with an agent skilled in a particular service, you want to run parallel queues. In this scenario, each customer holds a unique identifier, usually a ticket number, which is used to call that person to the appropriate service desk:
- F100 please go to desk 5
In some settings, a ticket number might seem impersonal, and a name would be better. To avoid any privacy concerns, you can show that in a shortened format:
- A. Smith – Room 4
- Alex S meet Dr Jones in Room 3
You might also consider alternatives such as avatars. Allowing patients to choose an avatar during the check-in process, and use that avatar throughout the patient journey.
A truly flexible approach might see you combining all of these approaches and more; verbal announcements, multilingual, based on the specific branch, day of the week, or customer preference.
Next, you can include information about wait time – considering how to improve their experience by keeping them informed, by showing information like:
Number of customers waiting
Organisations often fall into the trap of displaying average wait times, causing customers to ‘clock watch’. Instead, you should consider displaying the estimated 'Maximum Wait Time', or better yet, the ‘Expected Wait Time’ – taking the 90 percentile of wait times, to ensure that the vast majority of customers have a wait time within expectation.
If you display statistical data, make sure to use real-time branch performance, based on your current organisational processes – wait times and service times will trend up and down over hourly, daily, monthly periods, by branch, and service.
Beyond digital signage
What if you don't have digital signage? But you'd like to deliver this kind of information to your clients or patients. Well, the majority of people walk around with a screen in their pocket.
When a customer interacts with your branch, you can send notifications directly to their mobile devices: "Your appointment has been set", "Welcome to the branch", and include all of the following information like:
- Your estimated wait time is X
- Because there is a high wait time, here is a free [coffee voucher] – we’ll let you know when you are next to be called
- Did you know that this [appointment type] can be done online
- As a VIP customer, you are eligible for the following offer Y
- Click on the following [link] to see the current up to date wait times
This information should be available to the customer via ANY channel – when on a mobile device, when browsing the website, talking to a chatbot, before a visit, when in a branch, after a visit via an accurate, and targeted survey or email.
Furthermore, you should also make sure that agents are informed of this information:
- The wait time is currently above SLA – please assign another serving agent
- Customer A.Smith had a high wait time – consider offering them a discount voucher
- Customer J. Jones is a premium repeat customer, offer them the VIP package
- Customer enquired about the [X offer] – let them know how they can apply for it
Digital signage can play a crucial role in improving the customer experience. By using queue management and campaign technologies in combination with displays and mobile devices, you can keep customers informed of wait times, promote relevant products and services, gain insight from real-time data, and, even keep them entertained while they wait.