A few years ago, the typical waiting area of any customer service business provided somewhere to sit, something to read, a restroom, and possibly some coffee. For digital workers, this is all fine and well, but they do have a few additional needs that these businesses should consider offering.

Seating areas with newspapers and magazines are still important of course, but to be productive, people also need access to power outlets. The best customer service businesses even provide a selection of chargers (possibly repurposed from lost and found). In addition to chairs or sofas, desks are useful for people who want to work on their laptops. Complementing newspapers and magazines with digital content is an option, but might still be too advanced for most visitors.

Nowadays smoking areas are common as well as health regulations do not allow people to smoke in public areas indoor. Similarly, the digital worker appreciates a quiet place for phone calls so that also confidential calls can be taken while waiting instead of needing to step out to the street for the call.

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My best customer service experience is always at my local car dealership. Whenever I take my car in for maintenance, I either read the papers at their café or work from a small office in the back they provide me without any extra cost. Not only does this allow me to be productive as I wait for my car, but it also spares me from having to figure out any bus schedules. And, of course, I never leave without looking at the latest models, which may well give the dealer additional business in the future.

A traditional free service for all customers are restrooms. They are a must and most businesses understand that they really shouldn’t charge their customers for using them. Luckily, more businesses are beginning to understand that the same logic should apply to WLAN access. Having to pay for premium service is understandable but why airports, for example, only provide free network access for a limited time makes little sense to me. Why don’t they have the same policy for the restrooms?

Another odd habit related to WLAN services are the captive pages that require people to register their personal details or simply accept the terms of use. For a small business, I can understand this approach as a way of ensuring that only their customers use the network, but larger locations, such as airports, really should find a better solution. These days, most people are concerned about privacy, and I, for one, would not trust any data collected through forced registration pages. Having to bother with complex registration significantly reduces the value of the service for any busy digital worker and nobody provides their real email address anyway. Can you think of any examples of the captive approach adding real value to the business?

Finally, the ultimate attraction for any customer service business is the free coffee – and this applies to digital workers as well.