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Many restaurants are snatching up digital signage like candy in an effort to boost ticket sales and customer service. They are using them both indoors, outdoors and on tables to meet the needs of digital natives. That being said, simply deploying technology doesn’t ensure success. If the restaurant can’t figure out how to properly use the tool, or it doesn’t engage guests, then it’s a wasted investment. There are three things to keep in mind to ensure your digital signage is successful:

  • Logistics
  • End-user friendliness
  • Customer experience


Perhaps the greatest challenge when dealing with digital signage is handling all the logistics. After all, you have to consider if the hardware works properly with the software, how the screens look and how you will deploy all of them without interrupting your everyday operations.

“If the solution involves new screens, displays or hardware, it can be challenging logistically,” Matt Gibbs, co-founder and CMO at UPshow, said in an interview.

There are a number of ways to ease the burden of logistics. One of which is to run a large number of pilot tests to work out the kinks. In a previous story, Jann Rider, director of digital merchandising for Dairy Queen, recommended running pilot tests at the oldest locations to identify key problems early.

Restaurants should also consider hiring the very best integrators who can quickly deploy the solution during slow hours. The last thing you want is a bunch of dust flying around during the lunch rush.

End-user friendliness

It’s easy for a vendor to praise all the various features of their digital signage system, but end users are more concerned with whether they can actually use it.

Chris Blatz, director of marketing at Margaritaville, said his restaurant was looking for a simple solution to showcase marketing materials on TVs in addition to music videos and sports programming. He emphasized that “simple installation and easy content switching” were key for this purpose.

The key word here is “simple.” If a manager can’t figure out how to interact with the digital signage, the solution will just be another headache.

In order to handle this issue, there needs to be clear communication on how to work the system and clearly defined responsibilities for everyone involved. For example, if there is a special that goes out every year to all locations, the corporate office should be the main one pushing that content, not the individual managers. Likewise, corporate needs to train the manager on how to handle local specials.

“It’s important for there to be accountability of the technology on someone that works at the venue, and not just with someone at corporate,” Gibbs said. “This will ensure a steady flow of communication between the restaurant, the vendor and the buyer.”

Customer experience

The customer’s overall experience always matters, especially when you are talking about expensive technological investments. The key is whether or not your technology engaging guests in a meaningful way. One tool on the rise is to connect directly with guests through their phones.

“The biggest tech trend of the future for restaurants is going to be connecting the in-venue experience to the customer’s favorite device, their phone. This is much more than building a branded app and hoping for a download — it’s about leveraging existing customer behaviors that don’t introduce new steps or hurdles to engage,” Gibbs said.

There are a number of ways beyond phones to engage guests, such as through social media integration or games in the restaurant.

“Customers love going out to restaurants with family and friends, and it’s an inherently social experience that often is broadcast on social media. Restaurants can turn this insight into a word-of-mouth marketing engine by showcasing customer’s social content on the venue’s televisions, creating a memorable 15 seconds of fame for the customer that is ultimately promoting the restaurant to a whole new audience of followers,” Gibbs aid.

Restaurants can use games to help entertain guests while they wait for their food. Giants such as McDonald’s are already using touch tables with interactive games for kids and adults alike.

Technology will always advance, but keeping the customer satisfied never goes out of style.

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