The waiting room. Few things inspire eye rolls, dread, and a desperate check to make sure a phone battery is charged like knowing an indefinite time is about to be spent in a waiting room. Whether it is at a doctor’s office or the mechanic or even a beauty salon, no one is excited about a waiting room.

The concept of endless time spent in office or business waiting rooms has become a pretty common and relatable trope for comedians’ jokes. However, short of overhauling the healthcare system or changing the way many businesses are run, it is a necessary evil that isn’t going away anytime soon.

But, with a few small changes or adjustments, the waiting room experience can be dramatically improved. From reducing patient anxiety in doctor’s offices, to calming a customer frustrated about how long it is taking for an oil change, to simply distinguishing the brand and creating more positive word-of-mouth, a well-designed waiting area can do wonders—including making the wait feel shorter than it is.

Here are 6 ways to make the waiting room experience more enjoyable for anyone who has to spend time in it.

6 Easy Ways to Make Waiting Rooms More Enjoyable For Your Guests

Current Reading Materials

The old joke about five (or older!) year old magazines in the waiting room didn’t come from thin air. Many have been sitting in one waiting room or another, picked up the “People” magazine sitting on the table and realized the cover story is about the 2012 Olympics…when it was actually happening. Providing guests with a variety of reading materials that is current and that the target group is interested in can definitely pay off.

Set Waiting Time Expectations

Most of the frustration of a waiting room comes from general uncertainty. How long is the wait time going to be? From the time a customer walks in, they should have a general idea of how long they’ll be waiting. One way to keep guests informed is with regular, real-time, overhead announcements. Hearing on a regular basis how long their wait will be allows customers the chance to set expectations and plan their day accordingly.

Comfortable Seating

This may seem like a no-brainer, but far too often guests are made to wait extended periods of time in furniture that is, well, way too uncomfortable. Making sure that chairs or couches are inviting allows guests to make their wait as comfortable as possible. In addition, businesses can make sure that there are tables for those who want to work or just prefer a place to put their magazine or drink. It also doesn’t hurt to make sure the fabric is updated, doesn’t show too much wear and tear, and is cleaned every now and then.

Special Events, Offers and Specials

What better time to make sure guests are aware of upcoming events, special offers, or sales than when they are in the waiting room? Use in-store announcements to let guests in a dealership repair know that there are going to be free brake inspections next month or a special on tires. Making the waiting room experience more enjoyable—plus, providing a special offer may be just the ticket to getting that customer to return again and again.

Water and Coffee

While guests know that this isn’t the Ritz, providing something as simple as a glass of cold water or a nice cup of coffee or tea can immediately change how a customer is feeling about their waiting experience. Beauty salons, for example, are supposed to make people feel good, right? Offering a client a beverage while they wait is a great start down that path.

Carefully Selected Music

This isn’t just about giving guests something to hum along to. Recent studies have shown that the right music in waiting rooms can calm people down and make them more comfortable. In particular, peaceful music in a doctor’s office can make already anxious patients a little more at ease. In selecting the right soundtrack, think about the customer and what they are most likely going to enjoy listening to as well as the vibe the business may want to create. Is the business a hip and edgy salon or a peaceful and calm doctor’s office? All of these considerations should be considered when it comes to finding the best curated soundtrack.

While guests may not be choosing a business based solely on their waiting room experience, the experience they have will impact their overall impressions. A well-decorated, modern waiting room with the right soundtrack, in-store audio, expectations, and vibe can turn one-time visitors into loyal, return customers.

Interested in learning more? Request a demo of Vibenomics today and learn how you can start creating on-brand music and messaging for your in-store customers.