6 Steps for Optimizing Your Organization’s Virtual Queue with System Data
Since the first cash register was invented in 18791, technology has played an integral role in how businesses operate more efficiently and provide a positive customer experience.
Nearly a century and a half later, technology matters more than ever. A National Retail Foundation report found that two-thirds of brick-and-mortar consumers think technologies and innovations improve their shopping experience.2 Even behind the scenes, the benefits of the tech you adopt impact the customer.
This century, data has emerged as an important driver of business strategy. As technology has evolved, so has the level of analytics available to organizations looking to streamline, refine, and grow every aspect of their operations. Queues shouldn’t be an exception to this strategy.
With physical queues, compiling reliable numbers can be a challenge. However, a virtual queue system produces an incredible—yet manageable—amount of data that organizations can use to their advantage. Here are six ways to make the most of that data:
1. Identify peak waiting periods.
A virtual queue records the time when a patron joins the system and when they receive service, which then generates clear data on average wait times. The real power with these analytics emerges when you look at how those average wait times varied by day of the week, month of the year, time of day, how many employees were available, and even which employees were on the clock.
From the deeper data, trends become apparent, as do out-of-the-ordinary events. For example, if Tuesday afternoons are our quietest time, why did we get overrun with customers last Tuesday? The data can inform strategy, both in advance and in real time, so you can have enough key employees on hand to ensure a quality customer experience, especially when the system is saying you’re busier than normal. At a time when hiring and retaining employees is at a premium, this knowledge is crucial for ensuring you’re properly staffed at all times.
2. Determine the most common customer requests.
Unless a queue is narrowly focused on one service, customers may bring a variety of needs to your business on any given day. Understanding those needs and what customers are most often requesting gives you a better idea of what kind of staffing your operation needs and how to train your employees so they’re best equipped to provide good service.
Customer request data also can be merged with other metrics to show which services are requiring the most time and slowing down the queue. Besides guiding staffing options, this insight can help with customer success strategies as well. For example, if customers are standing in line for a service they can easily handle on their own (say, at an in-store kiosk), stores can add marketing to inform customers of their other options and, ideally, ease the burden on the queue.
3. Track abandonment rates.
Abandonment is a big concern, whether customers encounter a physical line or are waiting in a virtual queue. Although the digital option generally makes waits more bearable, people still may decide they’ve had enough and give up on their purchases. Data that a virtual queue provides can identify at what point the average customer abandons the line, what services they were waiting for, and if they return to the queue another day.
With this knowledge, businesses can adjust strategies—anything from adding staffing to cut down on abandonment to adjusting the system configuration so that, for example, customers receive more frequent updates or offers (e.g., $1 off a drink at the coffee kiosk while they wait) on their phones. The data also helps you come up with ways to get frustrated customers back to the store.
4. Take advantage of historical data.
In queue management, analyzing past data can help to better understand the present and predict the future. Some customer behavior is always changing—the pandemic has reinforced this truth—but some consistently holds steady over the years.
Virtual queue analytics allow you to look at the history and let you compare months, years, seasons, and more to determine if your current numbers are continuing the trend or showing something different. Past data also gives you an idea of how you should approach queue strategy if, for example, a big holiday weekend is coming up and you want to know how many customers to expect.
5. Pay attention to messaging statistics.
A benefit of virtual queuing is the ability to communicate back and forth with customers through the system and their smartphones. Data can be pulled showing how often customers are responding to your messages and the questions they’re asking. More interactions might not necessarily mean a perfect customer experience, but if people are communicating with you and not abandoning the line, that’s a good sign.
Messaging data also can show how often customers are clicking on promotional offers you send while they’re in the queue and after they’ve left your place of business. Which offers did they click on the most? How many sales resulted from your interactions? Did one type of offer resonate more with certain customers? This feature of virtual queuing holds great potential, so understanding what’s working and not working with it is important.
6. Compute the ROI of your virtual queue.
Data can show how a virtual queue shortens wait times, improves the customer experience, and optimizes employee efficiency. All those metrics can reveal something even more impactful: return on investment.
A healthy ROI confirms that the system is going beyond providing convenience. Customers who appreciate a virtual queue buy more, post positive online reviews, and generate repeat business. Simply preventing people from leaving at the sight of a long line boosts top-line revenue. Furthermore, because the system creates efficiency, you can serve more customers in less time, which further contributes to a nice ROI.
Of course, a seamless implementation of a virtual queue system also boosts ROI. Check out our guide, How to Avoid the Hidden Costs of Purchasing a Queue Management System, to learn more.