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Questions to Ask Walk-In Appointments

by Qtrac

What happens when a customer walks into your business unexpectedly? Do they need to wait until all your customers who are already in line are done with their transactions? Or maybe you miss out on a potential sale because you have to turn them away completely?

Walk-in appointments can make a positive impact on your company’s revenue, but they also add an element of unpredictability to your staff’s day; it may even be impossible to add them to the schedule if you don’t seamlessly integrate them into your customer queue.

That’s where a virtual queue comes in.

You may already be familiar with the idea of a virtual queue for scheduled appointments. With one, customers can log in remotely, wait anywhere they want, and even change their place in line based on their schedule. Your staff also benefits from understanding what their day will look like, having the ability to prepare for customer arrivals, and feeling productive instead of frantic—even on the busiest days.

But what about those surprise walk-in appointments that you haven’t been able to plan for? Virtual queue management makes it easier to provide exceptional service to unexpected arrivals, too.

How Virtual Queue Management Helps Manage Walk-In Appointments

The benefits of a virtual queue management system for scheduled customers include checking in remotely from their smartphone, tablet, or laptop and waiting anywhere. They can stay home until it’s time to arrive at their location for service, enjoy coffee at their favorite shop, or even wait in person and receive real-time updates about their wait time via SMS messaging or email.

Customers who walk in get to enjoy these benefits, too. Using an on-site kiosk or a QR code scan-in, they can check into the queue software and receive an estimated wait time. If their wait is going to be too long, they could be directed to another location or encouraged to schedule an appointment at another time that’s convenient for them.

Through a centralized dashboard, supervisors access historical and real-time data to better manage staffing throughout the day. This same dashboard provides insight into customers who have scheduled appointments and have checked into the virtual queue management system.

The wealth of information available to managers helps them understand which staff members are free to assist walk-ins. They can also track how long it takes to serve walk-ins, how often customers abandon the queue once they’re checked in, and the times of day walk-ins are most often visiting a location.

These features make it simpler for your staff so your business can more easily enjoy the positives of accepting walk-in appointments and minimize the negatives.

Pros of Accepting Walk-In Appointments

Maybe someone stops in because the location is on their route to or from work. Perhaps they’ve been thinking about that one thing they need to do, and they finally decide to just cross it off their list.

Customers buy no matter if they walk in unexpectedly, have an appointment, or check into the virtual queue management system. Walk-ins often mean extra business, adding significant—and welcome—increases to annual revenue totals.

Cons of Accepting Walk-In Appointments

Walk-in appointments can be great for boosting the bottom line, but their arrival can also wreak havoc. Too much extra traffic can overwhelm workers and result in a poor customer experience, which can have a direct impact on revenue.

Customers will pay more for great service, but they’ll also take their money elsewhere if a business doesn’t deliver. Research from PWC indicates that just one bad experience can turn 32 percent of surveyed customers away from a brand they love.

The very nature of walk-in appointments is unpredictable, making it difficult to appropriately allocate staff on a consistent basis. Likewise, businesses can’t rely on walk-in traffic to include the resulting potential revenue in forecasting.

Questions to Better Serve Walk-Ins

Making walk-in appointments run more smoothly for customers and staff entails asking the right questions of your virtual queue management system. These questions can be separated into two main categories: questions for your customers and questions for your staff.

1. Questions for Customers

  • What is their contact information? Depending on the way you have your virtual queue set up, you will need the customers’ contact information such as their name and cell phone number to text them wait-time updates or display their wait position on a large screen.
  • What service does the customer need? Accessing the system using a smartphone, users can check into the system and answer a series of questions about the services they need so that staff members can access vital information to better accommodate customers. Based on their answers, customers are funneled into the queue and to the staff member best suited for their transaction. Those same questions also help customers understand if they need to bring anything (e.g., documents) to help their service time run more smoothly.
  • What items should the customer have? Listing out the items, such as required documents, will save the customer time waiting in line if they don’t have the required items. For example, customers who make a walk-in appointment at a DMV but don’t have the required documents, such as a birth certificate, will leave frustrated. Including the list of items in the system minimizes this friction.
  • How long should they be expected to wait? Providing an estimated wait time allows customers to decide if they want to keep their spot in the queue, leave and come back when their turn arrives, or come back another day.

2. Questions for Staff

  • When are the peak periods for appointments? Using historical data, staff members can better prepare for peak periods for walk-in appointments. By increasing staff count during peak periods, employees can handle the increase in customers, thereby improving both the employee and customer experience. To do this, users need to gather enough historical data to make informed predictions about peak periods.
  • How are staff alerted of walk-in appointments? Whether through an email, an SMS message, or an alert on the Qtrac platform, staff members need to be informed as quickly as possible when a walk-in appointment is made so that they can prepare and move quickly and efficiently to address the customer’s needs.
  • Can customers interact with staff through the queue? As soon as the customer enters the queue, they need the option to communicate with staff. In addition to one-on-one communication, an advanced feature in the virtual queue management system allows automatic sale offers to be sent to customers’ phones while they wait. These promotions can be personalized to the customer and their needs, which creates an opportunity for impulse buys and appeals to instant gratification.

Well-Managed Walk-In Appointments Improve Customer Experience

We’ve all suddenly remembered an errand at the last minute. Imagine rushing into a store you’ve never been to before without an appointment because it’s the closest option and hoping they’ll be able to help. Now imagine the relief of knowing exactly how much time your last-second errand is going to take you and being greeted by name by a helpful employee who knows exactly what you need already when your turn arrives

It’s exactly that type of customer experience that builds customer loyalty. That store might have been new to you yesterday, but their helpfulness and ability to serve you quickly and efficiently means you’ll be back the next time you need their products or services—and research shows that businesses that are appreciated by customers earn 21 percent more profits!

An excellent virtual queue management system can help manage those walk-in appointments smoothly and keep customer loyalty growing.

Virtual Queue Management Systems Aren’t All Equal

When you’re choosing the best virtual queuing system for your needs, you should take these key factors into account:

  • Adaptability. Virtual queue solutions should integrate with systems and platforms already in use.
  • Customization. The system should grow and accommodate changing business needs.
  • Reporting. Real-time data gathered over time becomes historical insights that provide macro- and micro-level views into customer traffic, employee performance, and more.

If you’re ready to level up your customer experience by utilizing a virtual queue management system, follow our guide about avoiding potential hidden costs in virtual queuing solutions.

virtually queue management

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