5 Ways to Improve Customer Flow Management with Queue Software
With a little bit of light on the horizon that the COVID-19 pandemic might be winding down, Americans are ready to travel again, maybe in record numbers. In the back half of 2021, they’re expected to shop more, dine out more, and spend money on activities that they were enjoying before the world turned upside down.
The question becomes: Is your business ready? Sure, you’ll welcome the additional patronage, but are you ready for the crowds?
A business full of customers waiting for service doesn’t necessarily mean the business is efficient. In fact, inefficient queues, jammed spaces, and poor customer flow can hurt sales.
Customers who might already be tentative about a return to normalcy won’t like being stuck in a slow-moving, barely socially distanced line—and they’ll remember that experience when deciding whether or not to return to your business. Employee experience can suffer, too, at a time when businesses are struggling to find workers.
Looking ahead, flow management will be more important than ever as businesses figure out how to maximize the experience for customers. Virtual queuing software offers a way to become more efficient and maximize your business’s potential while reducing wait times and delighting customers. Here are five ways the best solutions improve customer flow management:
1. Minimize physical queues.
Physical queues must be carefully constructed so they don’t overly congest the space and interfere with the natural flow of foot traffic. Some organizations do this well—many airport TSA checkpoints and amusement park queues come to mind—but it requires planning and consideration on the part of not only the people in line but also the people trying to navigate that line. Even with a well-organized queue, the sight of dozens of people waiting can diminish the experience of customers if not scare them away.
Customer flow management software takes the physical queue out of the equation—or, at least, minimizes the need for a defined space where people wait. People can freely approach, move through, and be attended to in the service space that is now less crowded and more inviting.
2. Clear out waiting areas.
Some businesses skip a stand-in-line queue, opting for a waiting area where people hang out while awaiting their turn to come up or their number to be called. This isn’t always a better experience for customers, who are still practically bound to a certain area. If they want to get away for a few minutes, they must guess when to return—and maybe risk losing their place in line. Furthermore, anyone who has been stuck sitting in a DMV or doctor’s office waiting area knows it’s usually not an enjoyable experience, perhaps especially since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Customers appreciate knowledge—being told the wait is 20 minutes and you have seven people ahead of you is better than having to guess. They also feel better about waiting if they have options for what to do with their time. Flow management software helps by providing estimated wait times, during which customers are free to browse, get coffee, make a phone call from a quiet place, or anything else they want. The wait might not always be shorter (though often it is; more on that later), but letting customers wait on their own terms can make all the difference between a great experience and a so-so one.
3. Improve the employee experience.
A physical line or a waiting area might corral customers into one place, but ultimately, employees are tasked with managing the queue. That task can be stressful. Customers nag and complain about waiting times, and a throng of irritated people can be intimidating—and can become more intimidating as the queue grows.
With customer flow management software, employees avoid the stress of directing queue traffic. This frees workers up to give each customer their undivided attention, which can lead to better service. Moreover, because the best solutions reduce wait time, customers are in a better mood when it’s their turn to be served. The employee experience improves, which improves the customer experience, which improves the employee experience … and so on.
4. Shorten wait times.
By making queues easier and more efficient for customers and employees alike, customer flow management software often reduces wait times. The interactive nature of virtual queuing solutions helps with this reduction. For example, customers can self-identify, through their smartphones, why they’re at the business and what they need. By giving this information, they receive tailored, precise service when they reach the front of the virtual queue.
When customers aren’t tethered to a physical queue or waiting area, something else amazing happens: Their perception of how long they’re waiting also decreases. When customers are free to move about, the wait doesn’t seem so long. And when they receive updates about their wait and can interact with staff, the wait also doesn’t seem too bad. The customer experience improves, and people come away thinking your business cares about them—even in those rare times when the wait wasn’t shorter.
5. Use data and analytics.
Queue management software not only manages the customer and employee experiences, but also offers the ability to analyze both. You can make some educated guesses about how long people are waiting in a physical queue, or you can let the virtual solution give you exact numbers.
Other questions the data can answer include:
- How much time did customers spend at the counter after being in a virtual queue?
- How much did they interact, via their smartphones, with the solution—and, ultimately, your staff—while they were waiting?
- How much did they purchase, and how much did they decide to buy after entering the queue?
- What times of day and days of the week were the queues most packed or least filled?
- Did customers return to your business after using the virtual queue?
From the data, businesses can make informed decisions about staffing, hours, peak crowd strategy, and more—both in advance and in real time. For example, if the software is telling you that you might get a surge in customers some Saturday afternoons, you can prepare for that. When the software-identified surge does occur, an extra employee who might be working in another department can be immediately moved over to help with customers who have checked in. Customer flow doesn’t get bogged down, and even more data is generated to inform future strategy.
Qtrac brings everything you need—easy-to-use software, deep industry expertise, analytics, and scalability—to implement, manage, and turbocharge customer flow within one solution. Schedule a demo to see for yourself how our technology works, both from the admin’s side and the customer’s.