In many companies, the waiting area often plays a secondary role to the rest of the office when it comes to engaging clients or customers, providing interesting media or activities for young and old visitors as well as the decorating and planning.
Because the waiting area may be the first interaction a customer or visitor has with your business or practise, you can turn it into part of your business culture or values. Instead of ignoring the room, turn it into an extension of your customer service philosophy and show that you are considering all your visitors and take corporate responsibility seriously.
Let your guests know that you are interested in their well-being by providing a variety of comfort items in your waiting area or waiting room. Use comfortable furniture, put in wall outlets so people can plug laptops or phones in while they wait, and advertise if you have wireless Internet; you can also consider putting in a computer for people to use while they wait, you can demonstrate that you respect their time and are attentive to their needs.
These are our Top 5 tips for your waiting area or waiting room
1. First Impressions…the first 2 minutes !
Take time to go outside with your staff and friends and ask them to walk through from the car park, down the path, through the entrance and up to to the reception desk. Take a seat, look around you. How do you feel?, is it clean, warm , welcoming or does it look dark, unfriendly, awkward, boring with outdated notices? Do you think this really represents you and your business, the business values, what message do you want it to say?
At every opportunity, ask your visitors about their experience, parking, friendliness of staff, activities and articles in the waiting area, how where they announced or recognised as a visitor?
Often, the first 2 minutes can decide on a persons perception of your business and affect their decision to buy or be involved with your business. Consider, what do they see on the way to the waiting area?
2. The Environment … is it just a waiting area or a showcase for your business?
Don’t think of this area as a just a holding area for your visitors, it is not, it is their first interaction with your business. It will set the mood, their attitude towards you but also think of it as a opportunity to sell to them your products, business, people, services or your passion for your industry. Are you services or products on display? what about your statistics on Health and Safety, do you take this seriously? what solutions do you provide to help them ? Is the message they receive, the right ones, are they hard to see, read, out of date, scruffy? what about key performance indicators, graphs, colours? Prove to them the success and trust they can have with your business, can your competitors say the same?
Perhaps your suppliers or associated suppliers would like your captive audience to read and hear about their products, this could be a great income stream for your business? have a chat to your suppliers?
3. Activities and engagement … what will they do whilst waiting?
When people arrive they are inquisitive by human nature and will often read or see things that they would probably not normally select. Consider your media, papers, journals, press releases, your case studies, your product reviews. People will trust reviews and articles from third parties on your business and products.
Do you cover all age ranges, both young and old. A box of old broken and dirty toys in the corner will say a lot of negative things about your business. Consider using fund and attractive wall mounted play panels or play tables that are easy to keep clean, have no risk of trip or choke hazards and will last for many years. By keeping the anxious younger visitors occupied, the waiting environment will become a much more relaxing and fun place for all.
Have you considered providing the latest, yet very cost effective touch screen systems for your waiting area to enable visitors to interact, leave comments, explore your business, services or products or even entertain the younger visitor? You must agree, everything nowadays is “touchscreen”,ask my 10 year old!
4. The Furniture, Decor and actual room itself?
Take a close look at your furniture, the fabric, colour, condition, cleanliness, does it show a progressive business, a business that is creative, understanding ? Is there enough chairs, how are they arranged…for space, ease, visitor comfort (i.e. wheelchair, elderly, children), visitor interaction, brand or product demonstration?
Would you choose these chairs for your home and your guests ?
Music - What about music in your waiting area, consider a music style to reflect your business or the atmosphere of your waiting area, do you want to reassure and calm your visitors, there is music for that ! read our other article om music..click here
Decor – What is the condition of the walls, floors, ceilings? is any area looking tired or neglected if so. does this mean your visitors will be too? Consider calm colours, yet in certain places, try and be bold and creative to create areas of interest.
Lighting - This often gets overlooked, what light creates the atmosphere and effect you want. Subtle lighting, areas for reading, calm areas or areas for emotion and fun, with bright coloured lights coupled with sound effects for that memorable visit!
Temperature - When do your visitors arrive? is it warm, cold or too hot then? Waiting in a area that is too cold gives the impression of mismanaged and attention to detail on heating, or cost control, yet an over hot room will create tension and aggression. Who’s responsible for checking this?
Cleanliness - There are no excuses here, but who checks this and how well cleaned is the room and products? Dirty furniture, products, media items, noticeboards or children’s toys are not acceptable and definitely will create the wrong impression.
5. You and your staff…what information do they receive?
How are your visitors greeted? Consider how they are greeted given information and kept aware of their waiting time. Tea and Coffee are great, but often just having water available is enough. Keep regular contact with your visitors, walk over, speak to them, inform them it could be early or late, you will be surprised how thankful and impressed they will be ! Do you know how they like to be greeted, first name, Mr, Mrs? is there name on a welcome notice? do they have a car park space available?
Take a look around the area, is there a lot of “Don’t..”, “Do not…”, “We accept no liability…”. Though these are all very important, try and balance with more welcoming messages or positive messages, e.g. what to do if feel being kept waiting too long, or welcome their feedback and views, or consider positive statistics.
Also, the obvious, are the staff that first meet your visitors suitably trained, smart, fun and bright that clearly demonstrate the passion and values you have in your business?
Take a look now, do you have activities that are clean, safe and fun for your younger visitors. Would asmall table or wall panel bring colour and fun to that area?
For fun, colourful and interesting, great value products for your waiting area, visit www.toysfortime.com
Owner Toys for Time Ltd (UK)
Tel: 01359 231154