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What the Dine-in Guest Wants to Know Now


As we begin 2021, more people are choosing a dine-in experience. What is top of mind?

The recent Customer Engagement Technology Study, published by Hospitality Technology, revealed some fascinating statistics. When asked, What are the most important factors in selecting a specific restaurant? The number one response (with more than 70%) was that the restaurant communicates its process for managing COVID-19 exposure.

Since early 2020, restaurants have implemented healthy environment protocols and procedures to protect customers and employees. Working with local health departments and other services, on-site managers must guide their staff through these changes even as protocols evolve. While essential, this investment is now considered a selling feature of the location. In times of uncertainty, communicating these details can help prevent fear, anxiety, and doubts and foster customer confidence.

So how can you communicate your procedures to promote health and safety and build customer engagement and loyalty?

Your communication process starts with online and web content and in-app messaging. But the final and most important step is your on-site communications. As guests arrive, they must be able to see a visual representation of the procedures that help keep them healthy.

These details can be conveyed through digital signage or greeting boards, like those available through the Hughes MediaSignage solution — the very same types of tools that can promote menu items and daily specials.

Although, it’s best not just to list protocol guidelines. Instead, use video to show staff cleaning tables or working in the kitchen with proper protective equipment. Another option is to make the information interactive. For example, ask questions, encourage customers to respond by text message, or visit your social media channels or website via their smartphone.

Of course, you don’t have to stop at just sharing health and safety information. You can use digital signage to promote community service, environmental stewardship, and other initiatives that put your restaurant in a positive light. Digital signage screens can also present personal messages from brand executives and managers. These video messages can replace the roaming manager who is no longer able to stop and talk to individuals while dining due to health protocols; it also personalizes the brand. Plus, given video is now the most consumed media format, utilizing digital signage to deliver video communications makes sense.

An additional benefit of digital signage is its ability to support employee communications. Before opening the restaurant each day, the screen can display critical updates, training tips, and other time-sensitive information. Local staff can use the remote control to select and play content from a menu of options. Operations executives can also correlate training content viewing statistics with restaurant sales and customer satisfaction rates. This data can show how the video training content impacts local performance and provides a clear return on investment.

Restaurants, and the hospitality industry, are about the personal touch. By finding multiple ways to utilize the same screen, restaurants can compensate for lost touchpoints and the need to minimize contact. Plus, digital signage helps address the customer’s chief concern: What are you doing to keep me safe? Providing answers builds confidence and eases fears and is the quickest way to an improved customer experience.