Touch Screen Kiosks in the COVID and Post-COVID Eras: How to Keep Your Guests Safe
Touch screen kiosks offer obvious benefits in the current COVID-19 and post-COVID-19 eras, as public awareness of health and safety issues has climbed to an all-time high.
In the past, retail stores, shopping malls, hospitals and offices often aimed for ‘the personal touch’ with information booths staffed by humans. Yet now, one of the impacts of COVID-19 is that most visitors would prefer to have as little human interaction as possible.
There have always been benefits to installing touch screen kiosks, even in the pre-pandemic age. Touch screen kiosks can provide more in-depth visual information of complex spaces than employees are often able to. They can also support marketing efforts by communicating information about products, discounts and sales. For customers who want an efficient in-and-out experience with minimal waiting time, a kiosk delivers this type of quick and convenient experience.
In addition, in the COVID-19 and post COVID-19 eras, touch screens provide significant support to social distancing efforts, while also bolstering the visitor experience.
There is one major concern that is attributed to touch screen kiosks: the number of individuals touching their common surfaces.
In order to reap the benefits of touch screen kiosks in such unprecedented times, businesses must keep a number of health and safety issues in mind while setting up and operating these screens.
Here are the most important actions to take in order to keep visitors safe using touch screen kiosks:
1. Place kiosks at pain points
Kiosks can and should be used to avoid confusion in complex spaces – now more than ever. For this system to work effectively, each kiosk must be well-placed to address common visitor pain points.
Most complex spaces should have a number of kiosks at the entrance and additional kiosks at points where visitors are likely to need assistance. Perform a walk through of your spaces and consider at which points the need for assistance is most likely to arise.
As an example, if your kiosks are used for wayfinding, it’s prudent to place them at major entrances where a visitor commences their journey as well as forks in the route. Helping visitors to stay on their intended path will prevent them from doubling back or wandering around the space unnecessarily, minimising the risks of germ-spreading or additional exposure while doing so.
2. Ensure you have enough kiosks to avoid bottlenecks
Similarly, it is important that the placement of your touch screen kiosks does not cause bottlenecks to build up. The installation of too few kiosks could lead to the creation of long queues, which may actually compromise your social distancing measures, rather than enhance them.
Consider average visitor numbers at your busiest time of the day to help calculate how many of these visitors would, on average, ask for directions – or require other types of assistance – from employees. Install enough touchscreen kiosks to prevent long queues forming at this time of day.
3. Provide hand sanitiser with clear instructions
When organised properly, touch screen kiosks should help visitors to feel safe and comfortable, and assist in lowering the risk of person-to-person infection. To accomplish this, it’s important to ensure your screens won’t actually contribute to the spread of COVID-19.
By the very nature of the technology, many people are going to touch your kiosk screens. To counter this risk, set up hand sanitiser stations next to each kiosk and display signs asking users to sanitise their hands both before and after using the touch screen – or use kiosks with hand sanitiser stations built in. This should help ensure people are not transferring infection to the screen, and that they aren’t picking up any infection from the screen itself.
4. Regularly clean screens
Even the best signage or the most abundant sanitising stations won’t guarantee that every visitor follows proper protocol before or after using your kiosks. To further bolster the health and safety of your screens, they should also be regularly cleaned by staff.
Since the start of the pandemic, most businesses have employed extra cleaners to ensure regularly touched surfaces are frequently disinfected. Touch screens are likely to be one of the most touched places in your entire space, so they should be at the top of your cleaner’s priority list (though it’s important to ensure they use appropriate cleaners that are safe for your screens).
To help visitors feel safe, consider sticking up a “last cleaned” sign next to each machine that is regularly updated with the last time each screen was disinfected.
5. Use floor stickers and barriers
As much as you may work to avoid queues and bottlenecks, they’ll still happen occasionally, so it’s vital to be prepared. In front of each touch screen kiosk, create a safe and secure queuing area that includes floor stickers at two-metre intervals that show each visitor exactly where they should stand while queuing.
If the space is particularly busy, it may also be worth using barriers to ensure that other visitors don’t intersect the queue and breach social distancing guidelines.
6. Implement a one-way queueing system
When creating the queueing system for your touch screen kiosks, ensure it is one-way only. Once people have used the kiosk, they should be directed out of the area via arrows on the floor or clear signage. This route should take visitors away from the queue – not back past it – wherever possible.
7. Ensure staff are supervising screens
While digital screens in many cases negate the necessity of staff and in-person interactions, this doesn’t mean the whole system can be expected to operate smoothly without proper management. Many issues may remain, that could require human intervention.
For example, a queue may get out of hand, people may fail to sanitise their hands, or a visitor may be confused about how to use the touch screen. Ensure an employee is on hand to deal with such issues to prevent minor issues from developing into major challenges.
Want additional guidance on touch screen kiosk safety in the COVID and post-COVID eras? The experts at Engagis are standing by to answer your top questions.