Interactive is the name of the game these days. With 68% of US adults owning smartphones, and 45% owning tablets1, people are used to flicking, swiping and tapping to get the information they want, and even Windows 8 and 10 are optimized for touchscreens. Government facilities can incorporate touchscreen displays with their digital signage to make accessing information easier, more interesting and more accessible. With interactive digital signage, your audience can sift through vast amounts of information but still choose only what’s relevant to them. You also save money on support staff and printing costs.
People usually know what they need when they enter your offices, but they might not know who to talk to or where to go. Touchscreen directories allow you to present a lot of information that isn’t overwhelming. Save the public time and frustration by presenting directories that let people sort by name, department and topic, so they can get the information they need quickly. Show locations and office hours, and think about combining the directory with an online appointment scheduling program to allow them to schedule an available time slot right there at the screen.
To help visitors navigate the physical environment, use interactive wayfinding options. Touchable maps give clear directions to anywhere the public might need to go – whether it’s an office in this building or somewhere else. Adding a downloadable wayfinding app puts the directions right in their hands. Either have a message on a screen with the maps and directories prompting them to download the app, or install a geofence – a virtual perimeter around your facility that automatically prompts people to access the app when it detects a GPS-enabled mobile device. Placing proximity beacons around your building or campus allows the app to send turn-by-turn directions with visual cues and photos for easy reference. Visual cues are key in helping people get where they need to go – a review of 55 experiments shows that people follow directions that include pictures more than 300% better than text-only instructions2.
Once people get to their destination, there’s often some waiting involved. You can let them know how long they may have to wait by using a queuing system on your digital signs. Display how many people are ahead of them and estimated wait times to reduce frustration. Digital queuing systems can also provide KPIs to help you optimize your performance in the future.
If your visitors need certain forms filled out, have another interactive screen in the waiting area that can either print out forms on a nearby printer, or show an image of the necessary paperwork, which can be on shelves beneath the touchscreen or close by in trays. This streamlines the whole process, making both the public’s and your staff’s lives easier.
Government offices serve a broad range of people, and not everyone will be confident in English. Make all the information on your displays multi-lingual – the person just taps a button to change everything over to a language they are more comfortable with. Adding an FAQ list, again in multiple languages, will also reduce the burden on staff and allow the public to be more self-sufficient. You can also have feedback forms right there on your displays, to give you an immediate idea of customer satisfaction levels.
And, of course, while people are waiting, they’re exposed to your digital signage messages – announcements; news, weather and traffic feeds; event schedules and the like. This makes time seem to pass more quickly – in fact, digital signage reduces perceived wait times by as much as 35%4.
According to the 2010 Census, almost 19% of Americans have a disability of some sort3. Touchscreens that make use of natural hand gestures and have an easy-to-understand interface help make it easier for these people to be self-reliant and get what they need. Obviously, you will also need to make use of ADA requirements and guidelines, having screens at a comfortable height, with braille writing, etc.
And it might not all be business at your facility – if there’s a cafeteria of food court, interactive menu boards can present what’s on offer along with nutritional information in a fun and dynamic way. You can even have an ordering system integrated into touchscreens, so people can take as much time as they want to decide what they’ll have and order it when they’re ready. No one holds up the line, and both the public and staff will be happier.
Menu boards are only one way to change customer behavior. The U.S. Postal Service uses digital signage to direct customers to self-service kiosks called Automated Postal Centers (APC) that allow them to buy stamps and mail packages. APCs have even been put in places like drugstores and supermarkets, reducing the need to even go to the post office at all for some people5. And during the 2008 Democratic and Republican National Conventions, “digital concierges” – interactive touchscreen kiosks – were used to supply information on transportation routes, hotel locations, restaurant recommendations and entertainment options for delegates visiting Denver and Minneapolis, respectively.
The possibilities for combining touchscreens with your digital signage are as varied as the public you serve, and limited only by your imagination. You will save both visitors and your staff time and frustration, and your facility or office money. With these important considerations in mind, start thinking about what your customers want, and how you can best help them get the information they need in the most efficient way possible using interactive designs.
4 The business case for digital signage in the waiting line, Perry Kuklin – Director of Marketing and Business Development, Lavi Industries (http://www.digitalsignagetoday.com/articles/the-business-case-for-digital-signage-in-the-waiting-line/)