Several months into the COVID-19 pandemic, life is resuming for many industries in Australia. The restaurant industry worldwide was hit particularly hard during initial lockdowns. Now, it is slowly coming back to life, and quick service restaurants (QSRs) are witnessing a gradual return of customers.
Even as people return to dining in traditional restaurants and QSRs, many of them will be alert and safety conscious. Since many of Australia’s recent COVID-19 outbreaks were linked to restaurants and other dining facilities, customers will continue to tread cautiously, wanting to feel assured that COVID-19 related precautions are in place before stepping into any restaurant. According to Restaurant & Catering Australia businesses must display a clearly visible COVID-19 Safe Checklist near the front entrance or window, along with implementing a variety of other measures to ensure staff and customer safety.
QSR owners and operators have had to think carefully about how they can return to operating safely, as well as sustain and scale business growth amidst the crisis. In any service industry, trust plays an important role in instilling customer confidence. Now, the challenge lies in rebuilding customer confidence, trust and sense of safety to see a return to business buoyancy, and communication is key.
Here, we explore how QSRs can invest in digital signage to support public safety and help rebuild customer confidence to return to their favourite quick service restaurants.
Digital signage placed at the entrance of a QSR, or even a short distance away, can serve as a starting point to allay people’s fears and assure them of a safe dining experience. Digital content using a mix of text, pictures and video can communicate:
Most QSRs have had to reconfigure their dining spaces to meet safe distancing regulations, allowing more room between tables and making other modifications to promote safe dining. For instance, digital signage located at the entrance to the QSR can be used to display floor and seating plans to direct customers and contribute to a sense of safety. Signage can also show how tables have been removed and walking spaces widened to increase distance between customers. When integrated with an occupancy management solution, digital signage can also be a powerful tool to communicate limits on customer numbers and demonstrate when it is safe to enter.
If takeaway or delivery is the only option you are providing, such as the case with McDonald’s in Melbourne, then the focus could be shifted to demonstrate curbside or pickup/click and collect options, display directions for order collection, indicate parking locations and display wait times for takeaway orders.
While QSRs bear a significant portion of the responsibility to take preventative measures and demonstrate good hygiene, there is an equal responsibility on customers. Digital signage can help educate people about the rules of dining at the venue, including what measures they need to take before entering, while ordering and eating, and while exiting.
Digital signage can allow QSRs to display a list of dos and don’ts for hygiene and safety for customers to follow. This can include encouraging the use of provided sanitiser before entering, limiting group numbers when visiting, urging customers to stay apart while waiting in line and encouraging masks at all times except while eating. In the event that customers momentarily forget, the signage acts as a reminder and will also show that the outlet is serious about public safety.
Instead of having QSR staff instructing and monitoring customers, digital signage combined with service automation solutions can help reduce the risk of close contact. Signage can do the job of delivering a range of COVID-19 messaging, such as reminding people to sanitise after every instance of touching surfaces and to avoid touching their faces.
Many QSRs have stopped handing out physical menus, switching to digital menu boards to display menu items.
Digital menu boards allow customers to select items without having to touch anything, and also offer an added opportunity for upsell, possibly resulting in a higher spend per visit. In both the restaurant and the drive-thru, digital menu boards also offer a one-to-one personalisation opportunity that would not be found in print.
Digital signage can be a crucial space to indicate other ways people can stay safe and still enjoy their favourite QSR chain. Create digital campaigns that promote your delivery, takeaway and drive-thru options as an alternative to visiting. This option will help retain customers who do not feel comfortable visiting the restaurant.
Communicate that customer safety is a high priority and that even if they are wary of visiting the outlet, the restaurant will accommodate them with alternative options. For example, if there is a queue for the dining option, some customers may opt to move to the takeaway line. It is a win-win situation for both. The QSR prevents the customer from going to a competitor, and the customer gets their favourite meal.
Digital signage can help ensure public safety during the pandemic and beyond, supporting the overarching goals of a QSR’s COVID-19 communication strategy. STRATACACHE and Scala’s innovative solutions can help QSRs implement effective, impactful digital signage to support a safe dining experience, as well as help them offer safer alternatives through digital menu boards and drive-thru technology.
Discover how QSR chain Panos is using digital signage solutions to grow sales and ROI in our case study.
Background photo created by Mrsiraphol - Freepik