Virtual Queuing for Colleges and Universities
You see the photos and videos every winter (at least until the last one, thanks to the pandemic): college students at a major university camped out in a long line outside the arena, waiting for the opportunity to get the best seats for the next game.
As much of a rite of passage as this may seem at some schools, it shouldn’t imply that students like waiting during the rest of their college experience. Long waits—whether at the bookstore, to see an advisor, to get the classes they want, or for something else—can decrease student satisfaction.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, a study found only 55 percent of private-school students and 60 percent of public university students said they were satisfied with their college experience. With the pandemic showing signs of winding down, schools may need to work harder to improve student satisfaction. Cutting down wait times can help with that effort.
Virtual queuing solutions offer a proactive way to better manage physical lines and appointment scheduling for students, faculty, and the administration. Here’s a closer look at this technology and the benefits it can offer colleges and universities.
Virtual Queuing Solutions, Explained
Traditional queues require physical lines and waiting areas where people actually wait. Virtual queuing solutions take much, if not all, of the physical waiting out of the equation. For example, instead of a line of students circling the stadium to buy tickets, they could check in via a smartphone, tablet, or computer, and then return when the virtual queuing solution tells them to do so.
These solutions can also be applied to appointment scheduling—students can digitally set times to, for example, meet with an advisor. Any concerns or pertinent information can be included when the appointment is booked so that the advisor knows exactly what will be discussed at the meeting.
The Versatility of Virtual Queuing
Virtual queuing solutions offer multiple applications throughout the college or university. Consider these use cases.
Most colleges let students register for classes online or through a digital system—long gone are the days of picking classes by going from table to table in a gym. However, there are still many parts of registration that require an in-person interaction. Virtual queuing streamlines these processes and allows students to do other things rather than being stuck in line.
Financial Aid Offices
Paying for college is stressful enough without having to wait in a long line to get a problem resolved or a document signed. Virtual queues manage appointments and walk-in visits, saving time for employees as well as students.
The need for student counseling services has steadily risen over the years. In a report from the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors (AUCCCD) compiled before the COVID-19 pandemic, 87.3 percent of schools reported increased demand. Digital appointment scheduling solutions can help manage that demand and create efficiency so that students are getting the help they need faster and with less stress.
Just like any other healthcare clinic, a college’s health services operation may be hampered by long wait times and frustrated patients. Virtual queuing and appointment scheduling can help alleviate those issues and encourage students to seek and receive care.
Virtual queuing solutions can help individual academic departments in a variety of ways, from reserving time during a professor’s office hours to booking appointments with advisors to registering for events such as a conference with a guest speaker.
Besides assisting in ticket sales, queue management can help athletic departments make life easier for student-athletes, who, for example, can book tutors or appointments with trainers through the solution.
Although most college libraries are automated in terms of their collections, the extra services they offer might not be. Through virtual queuing, study rooms and computer labs can be easily booked without pulling employees away from their other duties.
Many virtual queuing solutions excel in retail environments, and the bookstore is about as retail as you can get on a college campus. Queue management can settle down the chaos of the bookstore—especially before the semester begins or when it’s time to sell books back—while reducing crowds and wait times. A good system can also streamline returns and customer service.
The Benefits of Virtual Queuing Solutions
As much as colleges and universities want to focus on their academic missions, they still must keep the bottom line in mind. Virtual queue management systems provide a nice return on investment without a significant cost to implement. And most people who use the solutions appreciate the convenience they offer. Here are some benefits colleges can enjoy with virtual queuing:
- Efficiency: Virtual queues save time with each interaction. Wait times become shorter, and fewer resources must be devoted to managing the line. Efficiency improves, allowing employees to better serve more students in less time.
- Happy students: Waiting in line overnight for great basketball seats might be fun for college students, but waiting for hours in the bursar’s office isn’t. Virtual queuing makes the lives of students easier—because, truly, they are the customers you are serving.
- Happy faculty: Digital appointment scheduling helps faculty stay organized and focused on their responsibilities instead of playing phone tag with students. Furthermore, employees need to use university services, too, and virtual queuing saves them time as well.
- More opportunities for academic departments: With budgets tight and time at a premium, academic departments might be leery of expanding the services they provide to students. Virtual queuing opens up opportunities such as tutoring sessions, seminars, expanded office hours, and more—without increasing the management requirements to make those things happen.
- Maximized ROI: Inefficient processes and frazzled employees not only fail to serve students well but also are bad for business. Virtual queuing turns the tables, helping universities and their departments find savings and make the most of their revenue-earning processes.
Qtrac’s virtual queuing platform delivers a streamlined user experience, advanced capabilities, and robust analytics. It also is customizable for your school’s unique queuing needs. Schedule a demo to learn more.