7 Ways Virtual Queuing Solutions Enhance the Customer Experience
As the COVID-19 pandemic begins to slowly wind down in the United States and other parts of the world, customer experience figures to be more important than ever.
A 2017 survey by Microsoft found that 96 percent of customers believe that customer service is important to brand loyalty. That likely hasn’t changed since the pandemic began—if anything, customers now demand more from their experiences given everything that has happened since 2020 began. Consumers have plenty of choices available to them, and they have long memories on how they were treated and how they felt when interacting with a business.
Virtual queuing solutions have emerged as an impactful, straightforward way to enhance the customer experience. Here are seven possibilities for using this technology to support, impress, and delight your customers:
1. Reduce actual wait times and perceived wait times.
Actual Wait Times
According to Forrester, just 23 percent of supermarket shoppers are “very satisfied” by queue length. Long lines annoy customers in other industries as well, so anything you can do to shorten the time spent waiting will improve the customer experience.
Efficiency is at the core of virtual queuing solutions: Employees become more efficient, the service and checkout processes become more efficient, and even customers become more efficient. This all adds up to fewer minutes of waiting, especially during peak times. Besides making life easier for customers, efficiency allows you to see more of those customers in the same amount of time—which helps the bottom line.
Perceived Wait Times
The time you spend standing in a long line can feel like an eternity—even if you haven’t been waiting that long. Research confirmed this decades ago: The perception of time is affected if customers are forced to wait. Every subsequent minute waiting may irritate you more, and although you might feel relieved when you finally get to the front of the queue, that stress sometimes carries over into the rest of your day.
When they don’t have to stand in line or sit in a waiting area, customers don’t feel so trapped—and their perception of how much time they’re waiting decreases. Virtual queuing solutions provide an alternative to physical queues and the standing around/walking back and forth in line that often seems so dreary. Even if the actual time waiting isn’t reduced very much, customers feel like they’re getting minutes of their life back.
2. Empower customers to make their own choices.
Part of the problem with physical and undefined queues is that people are being told what to do by the business. Sometimes, that’s unavoidable, but it still doesn’t help the customer experience. Virtual queuing solutions free up customers to wait in the ways they want to instead of how the business dictates. They can browse the store, get coffee, find a place to chill, or do anything else that is an improvement over standing in a long line. Ultimately, customers are given the power to choose.
Digital appointment scheduling offers this same sort of freedom: People can interact with your business on their timelines. Customers may not remember to call you when they need an appointment—or when they do remember, they might not have the time to schedule something. With automated scheduling solutions, they can connect via computer, tablet, or smartphone when their interest is at its peak.
3. Deliver better customer service.
Virtual queuing systems not only enhance the customer experience but also make life easier for employees, who feel less hassled by agitated customers, feel less pressured by their managers, and don’t waste time trying to manage a physical queue. As a result of this efficiency, employees tend to be happier and more focused on the customer.
Virtual solutions can be set up to ask customers about their needs ahead of time—for example, what kind of service (e.g., purchase, return, questions) will be required, will the customer benefit from a specialist, does the customer speak another language, and so on. When the customer’s turn then comes up, employees are ready to deliver zippier, more personalized service and a truly first-class experience.
4. Provide more opportunities to shop.
Americans love shopping—so much so that two-thirds of people responding to a 2019 survey said they’ve bought something just to feel a rush of happiness. When customers are stuck in line, they are prevented from shopping (aside from possible impulse purchases near checkout). Virtual queuing allows people to shop while they wait. Not only does this enhance the customer experience, but it also creates more sales opportunities for your business.
Some virtual queuing solutions take this idea a step further by sending personalized offers and coupons to customers’ phones while they await their turn in line. This creates an additional perception of value and “rewards” the customer for using the virtual queue.
5. Eliminate claustrophobia and chaos.
Physical queues, even ones that are well organized and somewhat efficient, take up space and cram people into a small area. That doesn’t make for a pleasant customer experience, especially in the COVID-19 era, when people might be apprehensive to be around strangers, masked or unmasked. Social distancing has helped loosen things up a little, but queues still require square footage and reduce customer flow.
Undefined queues often are just as maddening for customers. People may be unsure where the line starts, where it ends, and who is up next. Both long lines and aimless waiting crowds can intimidate customers into not purchasing. Virtual queuing opens spaces for customers, provides some semblance of order, and puts people more at ease about their shopping experience.
6. Give customers knowledge.
We’ve all been in a queue and wondered how much time we would be waiting until our turn arrived. Fifteen minutes? A half-hour? Virtual queues eliminate most of that guesswork by sending time estimates directly to customers’ phones after they enter the queue. Customers can also use the technology to send questions to the service team and receive answers while they wait. This helps speed up time at the counter, moving things along faster for people at all stages of the queue.
7. Delight your customers.
Customer experience plays such a big role in whether people return to your business that every little efficiency, convenience, and courtesy can make a difference. When you take advantage of virtual queuing, in small ways, you’re delighting customers by not making them wait as long, by not tethering them to a line or waiting room, and by presenting them with special offers while they wait.
Happy customers come away from their interactions feeling better about their decisions to patronize your business. They also don’t hesitate to reinforce those good decisions by returning to your store and telling friends and family how you and your team go the extra mile for customers.
Happy customers also tend to be spendy customers. Schedule a Demo to discuss how virtual queuing solutions can enhance your customers’ experience.