Why and How We Put Smiles on Operators’ Faces at Freshëns

3 min read
April 21, 2023


Science may not be the first thing you think of when considering the layout of digital menu boards. But maybe it should be.

Creative Realities Inc. (CRI) was recently engaged to upgrade the menu boards at 350 Freshëns 350 worldwide locations. Freshëns old menu boards were busy, confusing, and static. They complicated the customer experience, not to mention that of the operators on duty who had to deal with those frustrated customers — which made for quite a few frowns on operators’ faces.

A surprising combination of technology, neuroscience, and Creative Realities expertise proved the key to more effective digital menu boards.

Besides providing a better, more consistent customer experience, Freshëns employees were looking for menu boards that are easy to manage, easy to change when necessary, and reflective of the inventory on site. It’s frustrating for operators if they constantly need to stop their work to change a static menu board, or to inform guests the “fave they crave” is not available that day. The ideal solution would address issues like that and make it easier for the employees to continue to serve without compromising sales performance. And what operator would want to replace frowns with smiles all around?

As we looked into these concerns, we realized: The best menus in a QSR environment should reflect how the customers view and process information, and we could apply research from neuroscience to make that happen.


Using Expertise and Insights to Design a Better Menu Board

We had objectives in mind to use the boards to increase sales, reduce perceived wait times, and even prompt people to make unplanned purchases, providing a better user experience for customers, employees, and operators. The key to this was a digital menu board that was more likely to capture and hold people’s attention while promoting throughput and efficiency.

When we designed Freshëns’s new menu boards, we relied on several different kinds of data, starting with sales data but then going deeper. From that sales data, we could use principles of neuroscience to recognize patterns in how customers order, how they interact with menus as they’re doing so, and then make correlations to how that impacted the POS data.

The Freshëns strategy is to set up shop in locations like university student centers, which means serving a young customer base that expects to get what it wants quickly — without complications. It also wants clear information about what’s available.

The GenZ university crowd wants service on its own terms. It doesn’t want to be disappointed, and it doesn’t want to stand and wait through inefficient processes. That’s a lot to live up to.

Given the insights obtained from the data, we designed digital menu boards consisting of a row of four screens. We configured it so Freshëns could highlight strategic categories such as smoothies and crepes and include animation to liven up the board and enhance customer engagement. That made it easier for the Freshëns team to keep items moving and sales rising because the digital board handled much of the work. Instead of constantly explaining a confusing menu and which items were unavailable, they could focus on preparing the food and keeping everything else in order. The result was much happier team members (and customers, too).


Up-To-The-Moment Accuracy

The menu boards had to be flexible and functional enough to adjust for changes happening behind the scenes. We accomplished this using Clarity™, our purpose-built, fully integrated digital menu board software, which allows the screens to react in real-time to developments affecting certain menu items' availability.

For example, let’s say a location is out of some ingredients required to prepare its popular turkey bacon avocado wrap. That information is tied to the software running the menu board. So as soon as the wrap’s ingredients become unavailable, the menu board can remove it altogether, display a “Be Back Soon” notice, or promote another popular item in its place. That prevents employees from dealing with disappointed college students, some of whom make their feelings known (loudly), and many of whom might end up walking out without buying anything.

While all 350+ Freshëns stores are deploying the new digital menu boards, we also made the solution flexible so each restaurant can adapt the information and behavior of the displays to reflect what’s happening at each location.


Happy Operators, Better Results

Industry research shows that digital menu boards that delight customers with simplicity, layout logic, strategic color codes, and engaging animation — all driven by principles of neuroscience — can produce the following results:

  • They reduce perceived wait times by 35 percent.
  • They increase sales by up to 65 percent.
  • They prompt as many as eight out of 10 customers to make an unplanned purchase.
  • And because of the animation, they can generate five times as many views as static menu boards.

By combining register data with neuroscience, we were able to give Freshëns store operators a tool that makes their jobs easier, improves sales performance, and leads to overall smoother operations.

The bright, appetizing, boards are wonderful to look at, but the happy faces of contented employees and diners are even better.