Changing Perception: Simple Ways to Improve Your Customers’ Waiting Experience

Business.com / Customers / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Waiting may be a necessary evil, but it doesn’t have to be a chore for customers. Read on for reception area upgrade ideas.

A recent Software Advice survey found that 97 percent of patients get frustrated with lengthy waits.

But it’s not just medical facilities that have to manage service delays. From marketing agencies to salons to automotive garages, the time your clients spend in reception areas really starts to add up.

However, as a business owner, you have the power to make your customers’ waiting experience stress-free and even enjoyable.

Read on for some reception area upgrade ideas that will turn waiting customers into happy customers.

Related Article: Feng Shui & Fuzzy Feelings: Creating Company Culture Through Office Design

Entertainment

Distraction is a great way to keep your clients from fretting about the wait time. Outfit your waiting area with amenities that will keep them engaged instead of watching the clock.

  • Mix It Up: You don’t want to force specific TV programming on every customer. Not all of them will want to watch news or sports. You can easily solve this problem by varying your offerings. If you don’t want to invest in multiple monitors, a digital sign allows you to offer multiple different entertainment options on one screen. Use half the display for live sports or news, and use the other half for a trivia game.
  • Provide Wi-Fi: Most of the people in your reception area will have mobile devices with them. Make it simple for them to get online by providing free Wi-Fi. If you already offer cable TV, it’s fairly easy to add Internet to your existing package. Don’t forget to prominently post the guest network name and password so they don’t have to hunt for it.
  • Diversify Subscriptions: It doesn’t matter what type of business you own, your clientele will vary somewhat. Make each demographic feel welcome by providing a robust selection of magazines. Include beauty, fashion, sports, news, automotive, travel, cooking, and home design options. If people might bring children with them to wait, include reading material for youngsters as well.

Personal Services

Just because a customer is in a waiting area doesn’t mean they have to feel lost in the shuffle. Amenities that cater to customer comfort go a long way toward letting your clients know how valued they are.

  • Put Out a Spread: Waiting times feel a lot less oppressive with a hot coffee or healthy snack in hand. It doesn’t have to be over-the-top to make a good impression. A selection of coffee, tea, fruit drinks, and water accompanied by fresh fruit, granola bars, or pre-packaged nuts is more than enough to help ease the pain of waiting.
  • Keep Things Charged: Show your customers you care by providing charging stations for mobile devices and laptops. If they can use their waiting time to catch up on work emails or plan their home remodel on Pinterest, they might view their long wait as valuable personal time rather than an inconvenience.
  • Provide Stress Relief: Waiting adds to stress levels, especially if what someone is waiting for could have a significant impact on health or finances. Transform your waiting area into something clients look forward to by providing calming aromatherapy or massage chairs. A mere 10 minutes in a seated massage chair might just melt away all that waiting room angst.

Related Article: Myers-Briggs & Office Design: How to Satisfy The Needs of Different Personalities

Communication

Eighty percent of respondents to the earlier-mentioned Software Advice survey reported that “their frustration would be minimized somewhat, or completely, simply by being told in advance how long they’ll have to wait.”

Stepping up your communication with customers can have a huge impact on waiting room attitudes.

  • Use Technology: Sometimes wait times are influenced by unforeseen events. Show courtesy and consideration to your clients with text updates about waiting times. Industries from emergency rooms to restaurants are embracing this technology, to wide customer approval.
  • Give Advance Notice: Perception is a key factor in dissatisfaction about wait times. Rather than waiting until a client arrives in your office, let them know the wait time to expect when you confirm their appointment. If you can manage the logistics, sending people a wait-time update the day of their appointment can go a long way to alleviate wait time frustration.
  • Be Willing to Apologize: The same survey that indicated positive results when people were told their projected wait time also found that 70 percent of respondents showed less frustration when the care provider apologized for the wait time. Saying “I’m sorry” might be all you need to do to show your customers how much you care.

Atmosphere

Ambiance isn’t just for romantic dinners. Creating a welcoming reception area can do wonders for the mood of those who have to wait there.

  • Don’t Skimp on Comfort: Waiting is bad enough, but waiting on an uncomfortable chair or sofa is even worse. Test out your waiting area furniture. If you couldn’t sit on it comfortably for at least 30 minutes, keep shopping.
  • Upgrade as Needed: Don’t let your waiting room furniture live past its expiration date. As soon as things start to look shabby, stained, or worn out, start shopping for replacements.
  • Make It Swanky: You don’t need to spend a fortune on an elite interior decorator, but using the right colors, lighting, and artwork will put your customers at ease. Instead of industrial features like fluorescent bulbs and lifeless grey tones, opt for soothing and thoughtfully selected decor. Bringing plants or greenery into your room can also add to the peaceful environment.

Related Article: Reinstating Boundaries: The Agile Workplace

Waiting may be a necessary evil, but it doesn’t have to be a chore for your customers. Incorporate some of these ideas to help enhance your waiting room experience, and you’ll turn frustrated customers into happy clients who can’t wait to come back.

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