7 Capabilities Your Queue Management System Software Must Have
Virtual queue management technology is transforming how people wait for service—and how organizations operate. No longer must customers endure a long queue or a crowded lobby. And no longer do businesses have to settle for providing a far-less-than-optimal experience for their customers and employees.
That said, virtual queuing platforms differ from one another in their capabilities, functionality, and usability. One platform might have features another doesn’t—and you might be surprised, too late, to discover that a system doesn’t meet your organization’s needs. When that happens, you might not be making things better for your customers or your operation.
Queue management system software that’s rich in features can give you confidence, knowing that your queuing requirements are covered. The seven capabilities described here offer a good place to start when considering a solution.
How Queue Management System Software Works
A virtual queue replaces a physical wait with a digital one, eliminating the need for people to stand in line or sit in a waiting area. Before considering the features that top-notch queue management software should include, having an understanding of how the system works is important. Here are the basics:
- A customer or patron arrives at the point of service (e.g., service counter, cashier, security checkpoint, receptionist’s desk), enters the virtual queue, and provides some basic information to the system.
- Freed from the physical queue, customers can do whatever they want—wander the store, go for a stroll, buy a cup of coffee, or do anything else that’s not waiting in a certain, defined spot.
- While they wait, customers receive text notifications from the system on estimated wait times, updates on possible delays, and requests for additional information.
- When a customer’s turn arrives, the system sends a message instructing the person to return to the service counter.
Although the process is simple, the benefits of queue management system software are significant. For starters, the solution creates efficiency. Fewer employees are needed to manage the queue, and you don’t require a large space for customers to wait for service. Often, this efficiency leads to better service and decreased wait times.
Secondly, employees feel less frazzled by the queue when technology is managing it. In an era when employee satisfaction is at a premium—and finding and retaining quality workers is a challenge—anything you can do to make life easier for your workforce is an advantage.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, queue management system software improves the customer experience. A miserable wait—even if it’s not a long wait—can leave people with a bad impression of your organization, no matter how good your service is. Virtual queuing improves just about everything in the process, from check-in to communication to the actual service interaction with employees. Customers come away impressed, post positive reviews online, and spend more.
The 7 Must-Haves
The following list isn’t just filled with bells and whistles. These seven capabilities are essential to getting the most out of your queue management system software—and to providing the best experience for your customers, your employees, and your operations.
1. Easy Check-In Options
Checking into the queue is the first interaction a customer has with the service you’ll be providing, so getting it right is important. Because you’re looking to upgrade the traditional get-in-line or pick-a-number approaches, digital check-in must be easy, obvious, and unintimidating.
Most organizations using queue management system software check in customers with one or more of the following options:
- QR code
- Computer kiosk
- Text messaging
- Greeter who manually enters customer info into the system
A greeter is usually a backup option for people struggling with the system. To avoid those struggles, the signage telling customers how to check in—and what to expect after they do so—should be prominent and straightforward.
2. A Mobile Solution
The last thing customers need from a digital queue management solution is too much fumbling around trying to get it to work. In some use cases, such as an animal hospital or any place where parents might have kids with them, people discovering that they need to download an app will create even more stress.
Therefore, you should choose a platform that is tailored to immediately work on any smartphone. The system will send text messages and notifications to the phone—something users are already quite used to and will look out for. Any links that might be contained in the messages can be tapped so that they instantly open in the phone’s chosen browser.
Most importantly, customers aren’t putting something extra on their phones with this technology strategy. They scan a QR code, answer a few questions (optimized for small screens—often, you just tap a multiple-choice answer), and are ready to wait.
3. Automatic Customer Notifications
When a customer is waiting in a line, they lack information on how long that line will take beyond the number of people in front of them. The situation is worse if there is no physical queue but instead a crowd in a waiting area. Both scenarios are why the notifications of queue management system software improve the customer experience.
Estimated wait times and the actual notification indicating that someone’s turn is up might be the most important messages the system sends. For example, a customer at a wireless store who wants to add a second phone to their account might be notified that the wait will be 30 minutes—with that estimate based on algorithms and accumulated data (more on this later). They can browse the latest models as they wait, or they can walk next door to the frozen-yogurt shop for a treat. Another alert might say their turn is approaching, with a final notification telling them to come to the service counter and meet a sales rep who is waiting for them.
The best systems automate all these notifications and allow you to set the parameters of when an alert is sent. Following the earlier example, if the wait unexpectedly gets longer, the system can immediately give customers a heads-up and maybe even give them the option to book a time the next day.
4. Wait-Screen Offers
Waiting in a queue is often just wasted time for customers. Virtual queuing frees those customers up to shop, but the system itself can deliver promotions directly to a captive audience: people on their smartphones awaiting notifications.
Quality software enables you to send promotions, coupons, store news, or other marketing content to customers’ phones. Moreover, wait-screen offers can be triggered by certain events—if, for example, someone is waiting a long time, the system can automatically send a coupon for a free churro from the snack bar. Also, because a person in the queuing system is always in the queuing system, offers can be delivered to their phones after they conclude their business with you that day.
5. Configuration and Customization Options
How customers shop—and wait in line—differs from one business to the next. A bank patron wanting to open a savings account might have more patience than a salon customer hoping to get a spur-of-the-moment pedicure. Businesses have unique needs, too, from the services they offer to staffing to operational challenges.
Therefore, queuing software should be configurable and customizable to meet your specific requirements. A great system also has room to grow so that, if your needs change, adjusting the virtual queue is possible with minimal fuss.
6. Ease of Use
This feature might be a no-brainer, but any system you choose should be easy for you to implement, for your employees to learn, and for customers to use. You may have seen this with other types of software your business has used: If it’s too complex, employees find ways not to use it. Furthermore, customers who avoid the virtual queue inadvertently create more chaos in the waiting area. Ease of use doesn’t mean less capability—pick a platform that gives you plenty of versatility but isn’t overwhelming.
7. Data and Analytics
There’s gold in queue management system software—not literal gold, but a trove of data collected by the platform on how, when, and why people wait. The system gathers info on many things, including but not limited to:
- Average length of waits
- Busiest times of day, week, month, and year
- Services most and least requested by customers
- Average time of service after a customer’s turn begins
- Average length of time before a customer abandons the queue
- Repeat customers
This data can be collected and analyzed in real time so that, for example, if the system identifies unusually long waits, employees can be shifted from other departments to help with the rush. In the long term, this reporting informs operational decisions that affect hours, staffing, training, and more.
Another important consideration of queue management system software is its price. Check out our guide, How to Avoid the Hidden Costs of Purchasing a Queue Management System, to learn more.
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