4 Benefits a Smart Queue Management System Can Bring to the Table for Your Business
A long line of people or a crowded lobby of customers waiting for service in this era of COVID-19 may seem especially like a losing queuing strategy.
However, even before the pandemic, this “traditional” approach to queue management came with its drawbacks, such as:
- People are directed to stay in a defined space and wait for service. If they leave, they might lose their place in line.
- Customers have little knowledge of how long their waits might be. A back-and-forth line might give a hint based on the number of people ahead of them, but even then, estimating a time is guesswork.
- Employees are tasked to manage the queue instead of actually helping and serving customers.
- Annoyed customers take their frustrations out on staffers, who are increasingly fed up with jobs in which they feel undervalued.
Add in an infectious disease, and you see why a smarter solution is necessary.
Digital queue management systems are providing an answer. Here is a closer look at what a “smart” system can do for your organization.
What Makes a Queue Management System Smart
Technically, a pick-a-number dispenser is a queue management system, but few people would consider that a smart solution. The best digital queuing technologies do more than just give customers a place in line. A truly smart platform enhances the customer and employee experience while reacting and adjusting to the situation at hand. Here are some things that elevate virtual queuing above traditional queuing strategies:
Estimated Wait Times
A smart queue management system sends customers alerts about how long they can expect to wait before service. These estimates are based on algorithms, existing and accumulated system data, real-time conditions (e.g., how many people are in line or how many employees are working), and how the organization has configured the software.
Real-Time Staff Alerts
When the virtual queue is getting too long or something out of the ordinary is occurring (e.g., everyone in line for a customer service counter wants to exchange a purchase), the system can alert employees and managers of the situation. Staff can then be shuffled around to handle the rush.
Configurable Notification Workflows
Along the same lines as real-time staff alerts, a smart queue management system can be configured to automatically send notifications to customers when the unexpected happens while they’re waiting in the queue. Messages can range from a request to be patient (with an updated wait time) to an invitation to book an appointment for later to a digital coupon.
Technically, a digital queue is just one virtual line, but people might be waiting for different services with different needs and with varying levels of importance to your operation. A smart queue management system can identify, segment, and prioritize customers based on your configuration.
How a Smart Queue Management System Can Benefit Your Organization
To some organizations, virtual queuing may sound modern and interesting, but they wonder if it will produce benefits that lead to a significant return on their investment. With a smart queue management system, the benefits don’t disappoint. Here are four of these key advantages:
1. Improved Efficiency
A smart queue management system turns what is often an inefficient waiting process into a streamlined, nearly self-operating experience. Segmented queuing logically prioritizes customers as needed, and real-time alerts ensure that unexpected delays can be identified and addressed quickly.
However, the efficiency gained is much broader than that. Consider:
- The information gathered during check-in and while customers wait makes for a better service experience once someone is called to the counter.
- Employees aren’t responsible for managing a physical queue, thus freeing them to focus on the customer at hand.
- Customers not forced to endure waiting in a physical line or crowded lobby are more cooperative and less ornery when they’re being served.
All this adds up to efficiency that often results in shorter waits—meaning your operation might be able to serve more customers in the same amount of time and with the same amount of manpower.
2. Better Use of Employees
Freeing employees from managing a physical queue is just one manpower advantage gained from virtual queuing. The data from a smart queue management system can deliver insights on:
- Which employees are most efficient with customers
- Which skill sets are most needed at the point of service
- How many employees are needed for typical shifts
- How fast the virtual queue moves in relation to how many employees are available
- How wait times are affected when you’re understaffed
These analytics subsequently can inform staffing, scheduling, hiring strategies, training, hours of operation, and more. This level of practical employee data isn’t easily available for many businesses but can be found in a top-notch queuing platform.
3. Increased Sales
The minutes spent by a customer confined to a physical queue or a waiting space represent wasted time. Sure, impulse purchases from sales displays by the queue are possible, but irritated customers rarely think, “What else can I buy?” while they’re stuck waiting.
A smart queue management system turns this disadvantage upside down in several ways:
- Customers who are freed from standing in line can move about the store and shop while they wait.
- Digital promotions and coupons, sent through the system directly to customers’ phones, encourage more sales.
- If the wait is taking a long time, a digital coupon—automatically sent through the system—can act as a peace offering (e.g., “Sorry for the delay, here is a 10% off coupon to thank you for your patience!”). Besides creating goodwill, this strategy also encourages additional sales, either on the spot or in the future.
- The improved waiting experience translates into an improved customer experience, which leads to repeat business and positive online reviews.
Moreover, a customer in the system stays in the system and can be marketed to—or sent customer satisfaction surveys—long after their business that day concludes.
4. Long-Term Impact
The data that a smart queue management system produces helps the employees and managers who use the software develop smarter operational strategies. Some of the staffing metrics have already been discussed; the long-term analytics that are available include:
- Average wait times
- Services customers need
- Peak periods
- How long customers will wait before abandoning the virtual queue
- How often digital promotions are tapped and used while customers wait
- Average length of service when customers reach the counter
Customer history and behavior, including repeat business and responses to surveys
These metrics and others inform not only queuing strategy but also operational strategy. For example, if you know the queue for the customer service counter is busiest an hour before the counter closes, you might explore whether extending its hours is worthwhile. In this way, virtual queuing delivers a benefit that reaches into almost all areas of your operation.
With the virtual queuing platforms available today, smart doesn’t have to mean expensive. Check out our guide, How to Avoid the Hidden Costs of Purchasing a Queue Management System, to learn more.
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