The more that businesses and customers see how cool touch tables look, and how creatively they can be used to improve the customer experience, the more businesses are going to be asking about them—and the more customers are going to be expecting them. But installing a piece of furniture with such a specific, customer-facing technological application isn’t putting up a billboard—or even installing a video wall. Touch tables pose their own world of new challenges—ones that even the most seasoned marketer can overlook in the rush to deploy.
But this new world of interactive technology shouldn’t intimidate you. If you keep the following tips in mind, you can dodge the lion’s share of potential crises that spring up throughout a touch-table implementation and make sure that you’re giving a client exactly what it’s looking for, not a fancy (and expensive) place for customers to put their coats.
Start With a Need, Not With a Want
Touch tables look impressive. This is a blessing for a business that wants to show its customers that it’s on the cutting edge—but it can be a curse if an implementation is approached without a use case to justify it.
The temptation can be to install a touch table and then figure out how it’ll be used later—to say, “Well, we’ll start having a trivia night or something, and they can use the table for that.” But embedded in that mindset are quite a few assumptions—that the particular touch table in question is the best device to use for a trivia night, that the customer base is interested in trivia, or that there’s not another well-established trivia night in the bar next door.
So as with any big tech implementation, start with a clear idea of what the touch table will be used for, which customers will use it, and how it will help build business and make customers happy. Once there’s a solid use case, only then is it time to move ahead with the project.
Pay Attention to How the Table Looks—and Fits—in a Room
When there are no customers in the room, evaluate how the table is impacted by the room’s ambient environment. A touch screen will look different in the daytime from how it does at night, especially with light coming in through the windows. And in a dark room or in the evening, the glare from a direct light hanging above can make it hard to read. Make sure that you take all of this into consideration when you’re placing the table. If a touch table is hard to use or hard to see, customers just won’t use it.
And don’t forget to make sure that the table is the right size for the intended use and for the room. A touch table that fills up the space between the bar and the pool table doesn’t make much sense—neither does a tiny table off in a corner meant to facilitate a huge multi-player trivia game. Height matters, too -- if the use case demands that customers stand around the table, you’ll want to install a tall one, not a short coffee table that they have to crouch awkwardly to reach. If the customers will be seated, you’ll want to make sure they’re looking at the screen from their seats instead of staring at the side of the table.
Make Sure the Application Suits the Screen
The way an application is oriented on the screen of a touch table is critical – and since this is a factor we don’t think about when we’re installing normal furniture (of course) or, for that matter, other touch screen devices, it’s an easy thing to overlook.
If you’re implementing a touch table that’s designed to serve content to four people sitting around the table, having the content appear all facing the same direction will force some customers to read upside-down, or get up and stand on one side. Just as with a table that’s the wrong size, an awkward on-screen layout that doesn’t lend itself to easy use isn’t something customers just skip over or work around. It sticks out like a sore thumb, and can even result in complaints to the bartender, restaurant owner, etc., asking them to fix it.
The fact that customers are going to be setting things on the surface at the same time that they’re using it poses another challenge. If customers are supposed to be playing a game but the on-screen content is set up so that every time they put their drink down, they brush an active object on the touch table, it’s going to cause frustration and make them unlikely to use it.
So make sure your clients implement their touch tables with an application that’s properly configured to serve information to customers in a way that make sense for the use case. Smart information architecture, like smart table placement, can prevent touch table disasters down the road.