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4 Ways to Reduce Perceived Wait Time up to 40% with a Queue Management System

man on mobile phone in a virtual queue

When it comes to customer satisfaction and lines, it might actually be more important to manage the perception of the wait over the reality of the wait. Working from the old adage that perception equals reality, a customer’s idea about how long they’ve been waiting or how miserable or pleasant that wait has been is at least equally as important as the actual amount of time they’ve spent waiting.

Think about your own life and a time when you had to wait but it was over before you knew it. Now think about another time when you swore you had been waiting forever—even though it may only have been a handful of minutes.

Field studies from Lavi have shown that a queue management system can help cut perceived wait times up to 40 percent and therefore improve customer satisfaction. Here are four ways how.

queue management systems avoiding hidden costs ebook cover

1. Free customers to shop while they wait.

With virtual queuing technology, you can free customers to continue shopping while they wait, improving the overall customer journey. This is an obvious choice for a retail environment, where you might have customers waiting for a dressing room or for personal shopping assistance. Allowing customers to check in and then walk around and continue to shop while they wait not only reduces their perceived wait time by keeping them occupied, but it can also increase impulse sales. Win-win.

2. Display estimated wait times.

Queue management technology can integrate with digital signage, your mobile app, or SMS messaging, so you can automatically inform customers of their estimated wait times. This is important because studies show that known waits feel shorter than unknown waits. In other words, when customers know how long they’ll be expected to wait, they are less likely to overestimate the time.

3. Entertain with digital signage.

Occupied time feels shorter than unoccupied time. This tenet of queuing made popular by expert David Maister explains that when a customer is distracted from focusing on the passage of time, time seems to pass more quickly. Digital signage in the waiting area can be used to display entertaining content to engage customers and keep their minds off the wait.

4. Stay in touch via mobile.

Another of Maister’s tenets of queuing is that anxiety makes the wait seem longer. When customers are unsure of their status in a queue, this can create a sense of anxiety and disrupt the customer flow. In fact, once a wait lasts longer than three minutes, the perceived wait time multiplies with each passing minute.

For this reason, consider staying in touch via mobile this can be done on your app or through two-way texting. If your customers are out and about, either running other errands or continuing to shop while they wait, you can use a queue management solution to send updates about the length of the wait and their place in the queue. You can also allow them to text back to request more time if they’re running late. Goodbye, stress!

Reducing perceived wait times is just one of the many useful applications of a queue management system. How will your customers react to a wait that feels shorter and more enjoyable? How will a virtual queue enhance customer experience for your organization?

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