How to Use Content to Reduce Perceived Restaurant Wait Time

Individuals standing in line outside wearing jackets

Whether you are at a quick-service or fast casual restaurant, waiting is part of the experience. You wait between walking in the door and ordering. Once you’ve ordered, you wait for your food to be ready. Few restaurant managers need to be reminded that waiting too long makes customers unhappy. They are always looking for ways to manage customer flow and reduce restaurant wait times.

Factors That Make Wait Time Seem Longer

The amount of time we are waiting seems much larger and more painful when we are bored. The unpredictability of the wait is frustrating too because we don’t have any information about how long the wait will be. If we are faced with a long line, and it appears to be moving very slowly, the time crawls by.

If we expect our food to take a certain amount of time to appear and it goes well beyond that point, the wait can seem unbearable. There’s nothing that makes real wait time feel much longer than finding out that unanticipated delays are going to add more time to the wait.

Drawing Attention Away From These Factors

Keeping customers entertained is a way to make them wait without even realizing that time is going by. Perceived wait time is not shorter, but it seems to be because it is made more enjoyable.
Managers are using animated content and vibrant visuals to promote their products and services and keep customers entertained. Digital signage keeps their minds busy and off the fact that they are waiting.

Relevant messages can be displayed that entertain and inform customers while they are waiting. Combining different types of content, such as sports events, weather reports, news items and brand information in one feed is better as customers may get annoyed if they have to listen to a repeating message. You can additionally capitalize on this attention by placing upselling and cross-selling media on the screen.

The material displayed on digital signage changes quickly and grabs attention with the power of color, motion, and sound. It’s far more effective than a static sign.

Waiting For a Table

If customers can use a comfortable seating area with access to WiFi, digital screens showing interesting information, and other distractions it can make a wait much more enjoyable.
If a restaurant finds that guests may have to wait 20 minutes for a table, they can create an entertainment loop of about 30 minutes with fresh material. Too many loops of short material can increase perceived waiting time, rather than reducing it with the customer seeing the same content over and over.

Waiting for an order to arrive

When you are sitting at a restaurant waiting for your food, you expect it to take some time. Fine dining is not done in a hurry because, if the atmosphere is pleasant, the experience can be pleasurable.

However, if you’re at a quick-service restaurant, the situation is quite different. Once you’ve placed your order, you’re unsure of where to stand, what to do, and how long you may have to wait. Devices that buzz when an order is ready are used by some places so that customers can sit and relax while waiting. Some places use digital screens to display an order number once it’s ready. This is another obvious situation in which digital signage can be used effectively.

Quick-service restaurants account for about 20% of the digital signage industry. They position digital menus in exactly the right spot where customers can see them while waiting and it tends to drive impulse purchases. Digital menus have many advantages, one being that it is easy to make changes and run special promotions.

Reframing wait times

Managers are attempting to reduce restaurant wait times by reframing them in ways that allow customers to interact meaningfully with the brand. Digital technology, such as digital signage and digital menus, is making this process more seamless and convenient.


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1 comment
  1. The Idea is great and not only for entertainment but we can also use digital signage boards to educate customers about our brand.

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