What sort of soundscape does your business present to customers? Can your guests hear every conversation or noise throughout your store? Or do you control what they hear and how loudly they hear it?
If you’re not actively using sound masking to control the auditory experience in your business, you could be driving customers away with your noise. Keep reading to learn more about sound masking and overhead music, who it is for, and how you can use it to create a better customer experience.
What Is Sound Masking?
Have you ever been in an office where you can hear conversations across the room? Or sat in a restaurant with a loud talker who won’t get off their phone? Sound masking lessons the impact of these noises, allowing people to have a space to themselves without other people hearing (or hearing other people).
Sound masking gives business owners power over their acoustics to dictate how sound travels and what people hear.
Sound masking is used across a variety of industries. Salons and spas use it to create a relaxing environment for customers, restaurants use it to create a private ambiance, and retail stores use it to allow associates to communicate without bothering customers.
Almost any business can benefit from controlling how sound travels. For example, a veterinary office that uses sound masking can limit the sound of barking or whining dogs that could stress out the other animals in the waiting area. This makes the whole experience more relaxing for both pets and their parents.
How Does Sound Masking Work?
In a situation where you can’t use traditional insulation and soundproofing methods to prevent the spread of sound, brands can consider sound masking.
Sound masking uses a speaker system to emit a soft background sound that sets the mood and drowns out other conversations.
Instead of hearing a phone conversation from across the room, the ears of your customers focus on the quiet strumming of an acoustic guitar or a piano melody.
When done well, sound masking creates a blanket over your business, muffling conversations and letting people feel comfortable talking with others. It is a popular choice for business who want to create a serene ambiance for visitors.
How Is Sound Masking Different From White Noise?
There is a significant difference between sound masking and white noise. White noise is meant to drown out sound but isn’t directly tailored to how humans speak. There are plenty of apps that create white noise like the static of a radio station or the sound of a fan that you can try to see what this sound experience is like. Conversely, sound masking is meant to mimic the frequency of the human voice, so people feel more comfortable listening to it, and it directly masks distracting conversations.
When white noise is amplified, it hurts the ears and becomes a distraction to your customers. Meanwhile, sound masking services reduce their intensity as they get louder, so your customers can still navigate your store.
You are better off investing in sound masking and overhead music options for your business instead of broadcasting white noise for your customers to hear.
What Happens When You Don’t Use Sound Masking?
If you want to see why sound masking is important to your customer experience, stop by a few of the top restaurants in your area.
Vox reported that restaurants are becoming louder than ever, with noise becoming one of the most common complaints by patrons. When people can’t hear or feel overwhelmed by the noise, they don’t stay very long. They skip dessert, only order one drink, and eventually avoid the restaurant altogether.
Modern restaurant aesthetics make it hard to limit noise, which is why some servers experience hearing problems after months of working in a loud work environment.
Compare this environment to that of your local Starbucks that uses sound in their store perfectly. There is likely overhead music playing, people meeting, and lattes brewing, but the sound isn’t overwhelming. Unless the store is packed, Starbucks is an ideal meeting place for people to work quietly, talk with others, and form partnerships -- so much so that Microsoft has made it possible to schedule meetings in some locations.
Without sound masking, customers leave as soon as they can. With it, they stay for hours. While these two examples are in the food-service industry, similar results can apply to almost any business or workspace.
What Role Does Overhead Music Play in Sound Masking?
When you decide to use a sound masking system, you can also opt to play music through it. The music will be adjusted through the sound masking system, so your customers have a pleasant auditory experience without feeling overwhelmed by the music. In addition, it can save you money and space instead of having separate systems for both music and sound masking. This option is ideal for softer, background music needs such as those for a salon or spa.
Through Spectrio, you can also select playlists and musicians for your overhead music, that will be copyright compliant.
For example, if you run a massage spa or yoga studio, you might want slower, more meditative music to relax customers when they walk in. However, if you run a restaurant, you may want romantic background music that set the mood for close dates and other gatherings.
Each business has its own soundscape, and some of these auditory environments change throughout the day. A coffee and wine bar might play more upbeat music in the morning and then settle into relaxing music in the afternoon depending on the customer base. With sound masking, you can still control the playlist, but the system adjusts the frequency and tone for your customers.
Learn More About Sound Masking and the Customer Experience
The sounds your customers hear when they visit your store or location only make up one part of the overall customer experience. You must consider every detail and customer touchpoint if you want to create a comfortable, welcoming environment where customers want to spend their time -- and money.
To learn more about improving customer experiences in your brick-and-mortar store and to discover small steps you can take to drive customers to buy, check out free ebook The Ultimate Guide to In-Store Marketing.
The free ebook talks about how to use in-store marketing tools and tactics to create better customer experiences while also subtly promoting your offerings to get customers to stick with your brand and spend more during their visits.