Customer experience is one of the most important aspects of running any business, but the type of customer experience can vary a lot depending on the nature of the business in question.
Managing the experience your customers have while waiting for an appointment at your premises is often overlooked. From dentists’ and doctors’ surgeries to salons and car dealerships, waiting is an unavoidable aspect of many businesses, but can make a far greater impact than you might think.
A bad waiting experience will negatively affect a customer’s opinion of your business, but there are plenty of things you can do to upgrade their experience and ensure they wait with a smile…
Make them feel at home
To foster a welcoming environment in your waiting room, you should prioritise three key elements: atmosphere, entertainment, and communication, all aimed at making your customers feel right at home.
Whether it’s a simple change like having some magazines in the waiting room or something more noteworthy like adding a self-serve coffee machine, it’s important that you consider every detail with the goal of creating an environment that ensures customer satisfaction and peace of mind.
The room should be nicely decorated and provide a calming, relaxed atmosphere that’s welcoming to everyone. Décor and furniture should be curated to give the space a pleasant appearance and not simply be thrown together with whatever is available. Have a range of different kinds of seating, like chairs with and without arms.
What kind of entertainment would be most appreciated by your clientele? Magazines and books are a simple solution that’s virtually always a good bet, giving multiple customers the chance to silently keep themselves occupied. Having a TV in the waiting room can help distract customers, as well as something to keep young kids busy like a few toys or children’s books. The selection of media is really important, especially in the healthcare industry—try to avoid potentially stress-inducing programmes like the news and focus on positive things like nature shows.
Communication is the basis of customer satisfaction in all areas of business, including the waiting area. The only thing worse than a long wait is a long wait in which no one is updating you on what might be happening or setting expectations for the wait time.
These sorts of things are an important place to start. But at the same time, they are the benchmark for minimum expectations, rather than a way to truly enhance the customer waiting experience. The best way you can go above and beyond for your customers is by providing self-service refreshments, like a coffee machine.
There are many different commercial contexts in which a coffee machine can enhance the waiting experience. In general, a coffee machine is going to make your customer feel a great deal more welcome – it shows you care about and are attending to their needs. It provides a distraction from the monotony of waiting in a way that few other things can; drinking a fresh, hot coffee is a calming, physical sensation that you just don’t get from flicking through a magazine or staring at a TV.
Let’s take a look at how a self-serve commercial coffee machine can be used for different businesses…
Car garages and showrooms
Cars, both in purchasing and servicing, can mean a lot of time waiting. In the context of a potential customer buying a car, the customer experience is absolutely essential not just to close the sale but to ensure a high-quality experience all-round. Having a coffee machine in your showroom can transform the experience, alleviating customer apprehensions and minimising the chances of them second-guessing their car purchase decision.
Patient experience in waiting rooms
We touched on the importance of providing a comforting, stress-free environment in patient waiting rooms earlier. That’s because, naturally, patient waiting rooms can entail a great deal more stress. Hot drinks like coffee can have marked effects on anxiety levels in general, helping to create a more relaxed waiting experience for your healthcare patients.
A reception area might be the assigned waiting area for a customer in many different businesses; it could be in an office for a potential client or a guest in your hotel foyer. Image and impression are an invaluable part of your customer experience in these settings, and so the coffee machine in this context serves many functions. What we’ve mentioned so far still applies: your customers will feel more at ease with the opportunity to hydrate or revitalise with a hot drink that’s readily available.
But perhaps even more important than this is the image that your coffee machine will create in the customer’s mind. Coffee-shop quality hot drinks will leave a lasting impression and make their overall perception of their whole experience, not just the waiting, much better than it would otherwise be. It may seem like a small touch, but a coffee machine in your office or hotel reception will make a big difference to customers.
Hair and beauty
Waiting for a haircut or other beauty appointment can, again, vary a lot depending on the particular context. In a spa setting, for instance, you should have little doubt that your customers will expect refreshments available—so a coffee machine is definitely a must. On the other hand, if you run a walk-in hair salon, for example, a coffee machine will go a long way to making your customers feel more relaxed and certainly more willing to wait longer. Shockingly, some surveys have shown that many customers are generally willing to wait as little as only 2 minutes for service. While your customers will wait longer for their haircut, you’ve still got to account for their levels of patience.
Wait times could be a lot longer depending on how busy your salon is, which is why a coffee machine provides a great distraction while also helping to build a better image for your brand.
We’ve all had to sit in a waiting room or reception at some point in our lives. Whether it’s waiting for an appointment at the doctors or a business meeting, we know what makes the experience better. It starts with the basics: nice décor, a warm atmosphere, something to watch or read. But a coffee machine delivering a great tasting cup of coffee will elevate the customer experience in a way that few other simple solutions can.