Looking to create the best waiting room for your visitors? We’ve identified the top 10 ways businesses and medical offices are improving their waiting areas across the country.
The #1 Secret to Creating the Best Waiting Room
This article promised you 10 secrets – however, get ready to eat your dessert before dinner because we’ve saved the best for first. The secret to crafting the best waiting room experience for your visitors is the TV. It might come as no surprise that “TV Adviser” would rank a waiting area’s television so high on the list; but the proof is in the pudding. Here’s why:
TVs are everywhere.
They’re everywhere, they help reduce perceived wait time, and people are generally more comfortable when a TV is on in the background. Think of the last waiting room you were in – was there a TV hanging there for people to watch? 9 times out of 10, there is. However, just as frequently, that TV isn’t living up to its full potential.
If you didn’t think about the last waiting room you were in before – try and think of it now. Do you remember what was playing on the TV? It was probably the news, or a talkshow. TVs like that aren’t serving the business or medical office they’re located inside of; if that’s what’s on your TV, it isn’t serving yours either.
The solution is custom TV software instead of cable or looping displays. The best thing you can do for your waiting room, beyond making it look nice, is putting something nice on the TV. You want something that, unlike cable, works for you and helps deliver your messaging while simultaneously entertaining your visitors. If you’re curious about the ways in which a custom TV network could better serve your visitors, your waiting room, and your bottom line, start your search with It’s Relevant TV.
Secret #2: A Welcoming Staff
Nothing says ‘welcome’ like a real-live person actually saying “welcome!” Though in all seriousness- a welcoming staff, a smile, or even just the sense that the people working there are friendly, and willing to help, goes a long way. As for why something so simple is ranked so highly on this list? One of the biggest, or certainly most common complaints on review sites like Yelp are comments in regards to “rude staff.”
If it’s a medical office, the review might have had nothing to do with the treatment the patient received; likewise, in the case of a restaurant, it might have had nothing to do with the food. Peoples’ bad experiences in these situations were because of rude, snide, or sarcastic things said to them by staff or servers. It’s unfortunate, but it happens everywhere.
There’s no ‘one reason’ that these things happen, and there’s no ‘one thing’ that will fix it. Your staff, or even your visitors, could be having a bad day – and so anything they say, or anything that’s said to them, might be taken the wrong way- and then you have a problem.
The best thing you can do is encourage your staff to be as polite, and patient as-can-be; even in the face of the most irritable, cage-rattling customers in the world. Alternatively, a more effective ‘hands-on’ method for addressing the complaints of your visitors is giving them a way to communicate those complaints to you directly; personally. Whether it’s a suggestion box, a number they can call/text, or an email they can contact; having a way for your visitors to approach you with their problems before they post it online can save you a lot of trouble, and more importantly- help build trust and confidence between you and your patients/customers.
Secrets #3 & #4: Comfortable Seating & A Tidy Waiting Room
Comfy chairs, or comfortable seating, is a must for any waiting room- equally as important is a waiting room that is neat and tidy. The state and cleanliness of these rooms go a long way towards generating a good first impression. Can you think of a time when you were in a doctor’s office, restaurant, or sitting around waiting for your car to get serviced and the waiting area you had to sit in was just… terrible? Were there things like damaged chairs, a blaring TV you couldn’t do anything about, magazines from 3 years ago, questionable stains on the floor/ceiling, or worst of all, a coffee machine with no coffee?
The list goes on. If you personally saw one, or more of these things during your visit – you probably didn’t go back there; or at the very least it has made you think twice. Thankfully, if your own waiting room suffers from any of these problems, they’re fairly easy to identify and fix when you have your eyes and ears open to them.
Secret #5: Something for the Kids
The need for this varies based on just how many children visit your location, yet it’s common enough that it’s a secret to waiting room success. If you’re a parent, you know that kids can be a handful. They can be so full of energy and all-over-the-place that trying to get them to settle down in a waiting room is like trying to convince water to turn into ice. It just doesn’t happen on its own. Sometimes parents need an extra hand getting their kids to calm down, or distract themselves – that goes double if the child doesn’t want to be there.
You typically see this in medical offices more than anywhere else; some toys, puzzles, a few children’s books – a nice corner or play area for younger kids. It’s all about comfort, and creating a distraction for kids who might be bored or anxious about being there. These places work hard to provide a little something for children.
So the parents are grateful for the office, or business, for providing a few toys and games to have fun with; there might even be something fun for them on the TV. Echoing back to the “#1 Secret to Waiting Room Success” up above, It’s Relevant TV’s custom TV network can be tailored to cater to young audiences; which is safer than DVDs and Netflix – See: “Using Netflix & DVDs in Your Waiting Room.“
Secrets #6 & #7: Sounds & Scents
Never underestimate the subtle powers of calming music, or a sweet scent. Silence is deafening; it can make time feel as though it’s passing more slowly, and be very uncomfortable in the wrong waiting room. As for a waiting room with a bad smell? It should be pretty self-explanatory what people think of that – you’re thinking it right now.
One of the more common waiting room complaints on review sites like Yelp is that TVs that are too loud. Most often, a staff member will simply respond by muting the TV, or turning it off entirely. While this certainly reduces the noise, it reintroduces the problem mentioned above – silence.
Something as simple as playing a radio station can make all the difference in a quiet room. People casually tune in, or they tune it out – it’s good white noise. Likewise, something as simple as a plug-in air freshener can reduce stress in visitors and help put them in a more relaxed mood. The right scent can be a powerful ally; paired with the right music, and you’ll have a very pleasant waiting room.
Secrets #8 & #9: Artwork & Decorations
Perhaps less crucial than some of the other waiting room secrets mentioned in this article, but it definitely makes the list. Whether it’s tasteful artwork, some crystal vases full of marbles, a clock on the wall, or even a plastic plant or two – the right accents can make an otherwise dull waiting room come alive, or make it feel more comforting for visitors.
Plants (both real and plastic) are easy to find, and they make just about any empty space more interesting – especially corners. Wallspace is a little trickier to occupy. Between nice-looking portraits, marketing posters and signage, and even the TV – settling on where to place everything is a task in and of itself.
Provided that you’re not using cable, and are instead delivering your messaging through your TV with something like It’s Relevant TV, you don’t have to worry about hanging up posters advertising services, specials, or deals you’re currently running – since the TV is doing it for you. Obviously, the TV is best utilized where people are facing, or wherever as many of them as possible can comfortably see it. Waiting rooms come in all shapes and sizes, so the possibilities are endless.
Secret #10: Candy & Treats
Maybe it’s not what you were expecting, but it does bring a smile to your face, doesn’t it? Think back to when you were a little kid; at a time when there was a basket of lolly-pops, or a colorful jar of jellybeans sitting there in the waiting room with you. You can still picture it can’t you? That lasting impact is what you want. Rewarding a well-behaved child with a treat might be an old trick, but it’s a good one.
Going the extra mile and putting out some candy for visitors is a nice, generous, and cost-effective way to make someone’s day a little sweeter. In the case of a dentist office, dealing out sugar is a little counterintuitive – however there are plenty of sugar-free alternatives out there (and toys) that are in the same spirit of candy. It’s all about doing something nice for the people who are spending their time with you, because comfort is key to a good experience – which is what all of this is about in the end.