Transforming the customer experience in quick-service restaurants with digital signage

Another option for serving dine-in customers is to place interactive digital menus right at their tables by using tablet touch screens.

Another option for serving dine-in customers is to place interactive digital menus right at their tables by using tablet touch screens.

Drive-thru screens

Outdoors, meanwhile, drive-thru communications systems can integrate high-brightness digital signage—adequately ruggedized to resist weather damage and vandalism—with order processing and POS systems. This way, promotions can be modified in real time and errors reduced while customers are in audio contact with QSR employees.

Also, studies show digital menus move drive-thru customers along faster. The vivid images on a screen help people choose and place their orders more quickly.

This speed is imperative, particularly for QSRs where 60 to 70 per cent of their business takes place at a drive-thru window where only one customer can be served at a time.

Ordering kiosks

Touch-screen kiosks, such as those in McDonald’s Canada restaurants, require an intuitive graphical user interface (GUI) to enable customers to browse through product categories and options for customizing their meals. After finalizing their orders on-screen, McDonald’s customers can pay at the kiosk and then proceed to the counter for takeout or to a table for dining in.

By interfacing with the POS system, the kiosks only display what is in stock and can indicate when an item is not. The use of food images helps break down language barriers, allowing many people to order more easily than they could in-person at the cash counter. Studies also show customers tend to place bigger orders when using touch screens than when ordering from a cashier.

Quick Response (QR) codes provide an opportunity to follow up on a digital sign’s ‘call to action.’

Quick Response (QR) codes provide an opportunity to follow up on a digital sign’s ‘call to action.’

Again, dayparting enables the menus to be adjusted as needed. When McDonald’s Canada introduced all-day breakfast selections, for example, the kiosks made it easier to dictate which of the morning menu’s items would still be made available throughout the afternoon and evening (e.g. hash browns) and which would not (e.g. pancakes).

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Similar kiosks can also be seen at Subway outlets as well as an increasing number of coffee chains. Many restaurants have implemented touch-screen ordering at their drive-thrus, too.

Table-mounted screens

Another option for serving dine-in customers is to place interactive digital menus right at their tables by using tablet-sized touch screens.

For example, at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport table-mounted tablets allow departing passengers to place food and drink orders while also checking their flight status.

The interactive dining table with an embedded display, where the entire surface is an ordering screen, such as the Surface Hub multi-touch coffee tables that were introduced by Microsoft 10 years ago, later rebranded as PixelSense and was eventually discontinued. That technology may have been ahead of its time. Today’s younger customers actively want this kind of interactivity, along with games to entertain them while they wait for their food. And with super-directional speakers, the audio component of digital signage content at one table need not be heard at the next table over.

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