Creating an optimal waiting experience
Customer experience / Employee experience
Why We Need to Create the Best Waiting Experience
Waiting is an inevitable part of our lives. We must all wait for something sometimes, and we rarely enjoy the process. It can be a frustrating time of indefinite length when we’re helpless to do anything but sit still until someone collects us.
While we may think the client’s first impression of our business begins with the face-to-face greeting, it really starts to form during the time that they sit waiting for us to appear.
In business we focus on many points of the customer journey, but the onramp to that journey is often overlooked. This article shows you that the waiting room can be more than just a place where your valued clients sit and stew.
We can reframe the waiting experience as a gateway to your business, welcoming clients with superior service, comfort, and amenities. With the right configuration, and some attention to detail, your waiting room can set the appropriate tone for long-term successful engagements.
Let’s look at how we might utilise the waiting opportunity as the calming oasis amidst a client’s busy day of travel and appointments.
How to Effectively Manage the Waiting Experience
The waiting experience largely determines the customer’s attitude towards a company and their willingness to return.
Even for professionals offering services that are in high demand, removing friction and adding comfort to the waiting experience puts the right foot forward when beginning customer journeys.
Making the wait bearable for your clients means crafting an entertaining, interactive, and informative experience that keeps them engaged.
Begin with a concierge or touch screen system that allows the client to check in, with feedback to let them know where to wait and when someone will be with them. Put your client at ease by guiding them to amenities and refreshments without the need to ask.
Letting a client fill out paperwork or provide necessary background information while they wait optimises the time they spend. Any red tape that can be worked through during this period helps communicate that you value your client’s time by using it efficiently.
What are the specific elements that make up a great waiting experience?
The waiting experience is the first and often most abrasive interaction a customer has with your business. Great customer service, comforting amenities and an assortment of refreshments can all help ease the transition from the busy outside world to your quiet space.
The room: Comfortable chairs spaced far enough apart for comfort and privacy are key here. Depending on the size of your waiting room, you may need to get creative with the way couches and chairs are laid out to accommodate social distancing requirements.. Partitioning noisy activity like a busy receptionist or crying dental patients with walls or barriers will help to set the right atmosphere.
Entertainment: Traditional wisdom said people like to wait in a room with a TV or radio. In the modern age, where most of us consume media in public spaces on a personal device with headphones, this tends to be a distraction. The exception is in spaces where people need to wait with children. In this case, a dedicated corner with a small TV on low volume may serve the purpose best.
Reading material: Sometimes things are a cliché for good reason. Short form reading material like magazines and coffee table books work best in waiting rooms because they provide engaging distraction without diving too deep. Again, many would rather scroll social media or catch up on work emails on a personal device, but it’s nice to have the option. Put thought into what your selection of reading material says about your business. Choose topics that matter broadly to your clients, or digests of aesthetically pleasing, non-divisive themes like art and architecture.
The human touch: Make sure that when a client arrives for an appointment, the person who greets them can easily contact whoever they’ve come to see. If your system is automated, test it with people outside of your business to make sure anyone can understand how to use it. Fool-proofing the process from front door to handshake will optimise the waiting experience to eliminate confusion and maximise comfort levels.
Refreshments: Outside of a fully-stocked canteen or vending machine, it’s difficult to express creativity through your standard array of tea and coffee. One way to make your refreshment selection stand out is to stock higher quality name brands that invoke a sense of comfort with familiar flavours. Having a range of blends, even a decaf option for nervous clients, says that you like to cater to everyone.
Keep it clean: Regularly cleaning carpets, surfaces and refreshment areas is also important for maintaining the right aesthetic. Dirt, grime, stains and smells are conspicuous red flags in a place of business, and unfortunately will overshadow all other efforts to create the best experience.
The Advantages of Investing in a Great Waiting Experience
The waiting experience has a critical role in the success of a company. The smoother you can make the waiting experience overall, the longer your clients will be willing to wait. It’s not just about being available quickly for your clients, but also making them feel welcome and valued from the moment they arrive.
The impression that a great waiting experience instils and the sentiment it leaves with your client can’t be understated. Outside of helping you meet and work with your clients, the optimal waiting experience sets the tone for your business interactions, improves efficiency of data collection, makes the client feel more welcome and valued, increasing long-term retention.
If you’re not sure where to begin, start by exploring our wide range of easy-to-use, automatic NESCAFÉ coffee machines – so that you can at least serve a great cup of coffee.