03/29/2021
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Executive Insight: The Importance of Digital Signage and a Robust Network

From guest experience to workforce management, effective signage and connectivity are restaurant must-haves.
a man wearing a suit and tie smiling and looking at the camera
Mike Tippets, VP, Enterprise Marketing & Organizational Development, Hughes

What role can — and should — Digital Signage play in the restaurant customer journey?

Restaurants are adopting Digital Signage in more ways than ever before. Its ability to effectively engage customers, convey important information, and enable customers to digest information is unmatched.  That's because it delivers dynamic content capabilities, like motion graphics and video – all proven ways to capture attention.

As a communications tool, Digital Signage is applicable at multiple points along the customer journey. Use cases and examples depend on the type of restaurants, such as whether it's a Quick Serve or a Fast Casual restaurant. But at a high level, signage can be helpful during three phases of the restaurant customer journey: Before, During, and After their visit.

Digital Signage can engage at a distance before customers enter the restaurant and showcase limited-time offers, promotions, and other specials. Digital Signage can extend to the curbside where QR codes and different ordering options and integrations can increase the average ticket total.

Apart from general marketing and promotions, digital screens can also keep customers informed. That might include specifics about current queueing procedures or cleaning protocols and public health standards. When restaurants use Digital Signage in these ways, it can reduce perceived wait time or ease safety concerns. A restaurant may choose to highlight its involvement in the local community to build bonds between customers and the location.

During the customer's visit, menu boards should offer far more than a list of foods and pricing. Customers want to know about nutrition facts and food sourcing, which can be displayed and updated easily on digital screens. Digital Signage also enables restauranteurs to support upselling practices, such as showing food items in combinations to increase the average ticket size. Dayparting is another strategic use of Digital Signage; marketing or merchandising teams can change on-screen content to meet time of day expectations. And it can assist the checkout process, particularly in the drive-thru.

As the customer leaves the restaurant, Digital Signage can display "thank you" messages, suggesting that customers provide an online or social media review or recommend visiting again.

Because digital screens come in so many different sizes, content delivery can be targeted where it makes the most sense, be it at the table, on the counter, on wall displays, in the drive-thru, and increasingly in the windows.

Digital Signage is a must-have for the modern restaurant customer experience with all of its flexibility and features. Working with a Managed Services Provider (MSP) that understands this strategy can connect all phases of the restaurant journey to its needs and expectations.

What opportunities does Digital Signage present for workforce management and training?

Just as Digital Signage can be used to engage customers, it can also engage restaurant employees. Restaurants can leverage the right Digital Signage platform to train, communicate with, and inform them.

It is a far better solution than relying on word-of-mouth updates from local managers, resulting in delayed or bottlenecked messages due to manager availability, shifts, and time of day. For example, workers in the morning may receive guidance that isn't passed along to midday or evening staff. When such information gaps exist, employee confidence and morale can plummet and negatively impact both the employee and the customer experience.

Digital Signage solves these problems by enabling all staff to have equal access to communications. Any employee can walk in, regardless of their schedule, pass by the screen and quickly consume on-screen content to ensure they have relevant insights to create a better customer experience.

Digital menu boards can serve a dual purpose by delivering video on demand training before the restaurant opens for the day. Employees can easily access a library of video content using a touch screen or remote control. That library can be unique to every screen and updated in real-time to ensure training content is current.

Finally, back-of-house digital screens can be integrated with external systems so that key performance indicators and other metrics appear on screen in real-time to ensure employees stay on task. Employees can also be recognized for their achievements via Digital Signage, building a great culture and boosting morale.

These communications and training capabilities are made possible by a cloud-based Digital Signage platform and a SmartTV. When backed by an experienced MSP, there's a seamless connection between the restaurant's goals and the training environment.

How does a robust Wi-Fi network help to support the customer journey?

Using QR codes to deliver menu options, capturing orders, communicating to the kitchen, and processing payment transactions rely on a restaurant's Wi-Fi network. Any network outage or even intermittent congestion may cause lost sales, harm the customer experience, and tarnish the brand.

Additionally, a robust Wi-Fi network provides a valuable source of customer behavior data and analytics. Restaurants can measure foot traffic, study queue times, track repeat visits, and even identify lost sales opportunities (e.g., a customer leaves the restaurant without ordering.) As the customer waits for their order, the Wi-Fi network also provides the chance to engage with branded content, highlight new products/promotions, and increase customer satisfaction.

Since each customer's LTE service may vary widely in terms of signal strength, especially during peak times, having outdoor solid Wi-Fi coverage provides a service foundation from the moment a customer arrives. Especially now, when restaurants are surviving through outdoor dining options and curbside pickup, Guest Wi-Fi is essential. It provides a pathway for customer-focused digital interactions.

Again, the right MSP can assess a restaurant's vision for its customer journey, outline all digital inflection points, and recommend solutions for making it all happen.

What role does a network play in workforce management and back of the house?

The portfolio of back-of-house applications for restaurants has more than doubled. Many across the industry have turned to cloud-based, mission-critical applications, including scheduling, inventory management, accounting, marketing, etc.

For those with a dependence on cloud applications, the network is especially critical for operational efficiency. An unreliable network will impact a restaurant's ability to receive mobile orders and conduct basic tasks, such as open/close the store, process payments, clock employees in/out, and post daily reports. Any disruption can be highly frustrating for all involved.

The network infrastructure also serves as the first defense against cyber-attacks on the system and these applications. When a single data breach can devastate an entire brand, cybersecurity and privacy protections are imperative. Here too, an experienced MSP has the expertise and resources to stay current on evolving threats and implement proper security protections and protocols.

From Digital Signage to safeguarding the network, the right MSP can deliver a secure, reliable, and scalable network to meet the ever-changing needs; and the restaurant team focuses on a dining experience that customers will want to return to and enjoy repeatedly.