6 Steps to Free Your Customers From Waiting in Line
No matter where you’re waiting, no matter how patient you are, eventually, standing in line can become annoying and frustrating. As a business, you must face the fact that at some point, customers will renege or fail to return again if your waiting lines are slow or poorly-managed. Negative word of mouth spreads quickly and easily influences others. To combat the negative aspects of waiting in line, many businesses are turning to virtual queuing. With a virtual queue, wait times can be reduced but more importantly, customers are freed from the need to “stand in line.” Here we explore 6 steps, facilitated by a virtual queuing system, to eliminate the physical queue from your customer experience:
1. ALLOW CUSTOMERS TO SET APPOINTMENTS
Appointments aren’t only for doctor’s offices, and reservations aren’t only for restaurants. When you operate a virtual queue equipped with scheduling software, customers can make a service appointment online or through a mobile app before they even arrive at your place of business. Not only does the convenience of this option absolutely delight customers, it allows you to better manage the scheduling of your employees and the service workload. And, ultimately, the wait time is drastically reduced on the day of service.
2. GET THEM REGISTERED UPON ARRIVAL
Long lines can be daunting and many customers might opt out rather than waste precious moments waiting. But when you have a virtual queue, customers are able to register for service at a kiosk or via a tablet or mobile device, officially entering them into the queue without demanding that they stand and wait for service. The registration process can happen off-site or on-premises, it can be self-service or completed by a host, and it can be as simple as swiping a loyalty card at a kiosk or a more complex system of questions, answers, and information-gathering. However you decide to organize your system, the customer knows their presence has been acknowledged and that they’re officially in the virtual queue – and they’re free to spend their waiting time as they please. Bonus: Customers who made appointments can use this registration point as a way to check-in so you know they’ve arrived.
3. SET CUSTOMER EXPECTATIONS
One of the most difficult elements of waiting is the uncertainty. But customer touchpoints – which allow your business to set expectations, interact with customers, and enhance the customer experience – are built into a virtual queueing system. Whether it’s an appointment confirmation via text message, a reminder email, or a printed registration ticket providing an estimated wait time, this valuable information allows customers to know that they’re still in the line and helps appease their concerns about the length of the wait ahead. And, if you add digital signage, you can provide your customers with queue, wait, and service updates as well as targeted marketing opportunities.
4. GIVE YOUR STAFF THE POWER TO MANAGE QUEUES AND CUSTOMERS
When managers and service agents are able to see what’s happening behind the scenes through a virtual queue’s live dashboards via tablets or PCs, they can manage what’s ahead for an entire service area, or take advantage of the live dashboard to adjust one particular service section. With valuable customer information at your fingertips, you and your employees have the ability to manage, group, and sort those who are waiting. Customers can be transferred to the appropriate service agent, moved up or down in the queue, prioritized for service, and more. And, the system can be programmed to alert service agents immediately about customers with long waits, special needs, or VIP status.
5. AUTOMATICALLY HAIL CUSTOMERS
LCD screens and text messaging are valuable additions to a virtual queue. Hail customers to service counters by displaying their name or call number. Or text them when their turn is imminent. No-show customers can be re-queued, or deleted from the system so the line is streamlined and maintains efficiency. One of the best elements of this virtual queueing method, though, is the ability to offer two-way text messaging. Your customers aren’t just an outlet receiving your communications – they are able to ask for more time if they aren’t ready for service, or they can notify you that they want to be entirely removed from the queue.
6. OPTIMIZE EFFICIENCY AND INCREASE PRODUCTIVITY
Eyeballing a queue or conducting random queue counts to gauge queue activity are things of the past. A virtual queueing system is constantly collecting data, whether customer count or wait time, service load or service time. Any effective virtual queueing system gathers this intelligence into useful reports that enable you to manage your queue competently and effectively. Real-time dashboards and alerts when pre-set parameters fall out of compliance allow you to react before a problem gets out of hand. Plus, historical data reveals queueing trends as well as problem areas and creates opportunities to help you increase service productivity, optimize efficiency, and enhance the customer experience each and every day. A virtual queue allows you to provide a modern and high level of service for every customer from minute to minute. How businesses communicate with customers is changing, expanding, and evolving. Virtual queueing is an excellent way to stay relevant, use technology to your advantage, improve service offerings and, ultimately, provide a positive customer experience.