There is always a method, technique, or element that a business or company can implement or adopt to improve efficiency, productivity, and customer satisfaction. One of the biggest places where an incredibly impactful change can be made is in the waiting line; and companies are discovering technology is the answer.
From the way customers register for a service to the way customers move through the line, from the way people are hailed to a service agent to the way managers are notified of undesirable changes in queue patterns or behavior, technological innovations are being put to work across the entire board of queue management.
There are five major ways that the implementation of sophisticated technology impacts a queue:
1. Customer flow is optimized.
Technology, such as call-forward electronic queuing, hails customers in a more efficient manner which leads to optimal customer flow through the waiting line. Technology allows service agents to focus on their work, and even allows customers to “zone out” for a bit without worrying that they’ll miss their turn or hold others up behind. Those waiting in line also have the opportunity to continue shopping when in-line merchandising accompanies technological queuing enhancements. Add to this queue monitoring technology, and managers can receive real-time metrics to adequately and quickly respond to the ebb and flow of the waiting line.
Queue management technology can result in a 400 percent increase in impulse purchases at checkout.
2. Real and perceived wait times are decreased.
Some might say that a customer’s perception of their wait is far more important than the reality of their wait. While there is truth in such a statement, it’s important to work toward decreasing both real and perceived wait times. Technology can help tremendously. For instance, a queue manager can rely on tools such as digital signage to inform customers of their wait time as they enter a queue and move through it (fact: known waits feel shorter than unknown waits). The actual wait itself, however, can be driven down through the help of technological advancements that enable customers to pre-schedule their place in the queue via smartphone or computer.
Queue management technology can decrease actual average wait times by 10 to 30 percent and create a 40 percent decrease in perceived wait times.
3. The customer experience is enhanced.
Waiting lines are all about the customer – at least, they should be. If a customer’s time in a waiting line doesn’t make up the crux of their experience with a business (like the DMV, for instance, or all airport exchanges, from check-in to security to boarding), then it’s the cherry on their overall experience with a business (particularly in retail environments where the checkout line is the last encounter a person will have before making up their mind about their experience with that particular enterprise). Technology is changing the way customers wait in line. Many businesses are implementing virtual queues, eliminating the actual waiting line, which frees customers to shop while they wait or attend to other tasks, and allows them to receive text alerts about when their turn in line is imminent.
4. Agents become more efficient.
Technology used appropriately at the head of the line – where the service agents are located – will filter down and make the rest of a queue move more rapidly. Queuing technology improves the productivity of service agents and cashiers (which also cuts costs). Through queue management systems, customers can be hailed more efficiently with little to no downtime for service agents. More importantly, managers are able to keep a close watch on service times and productivity of the key staff members who serve a queue, ensuring that no back-ups occur unnecessarily.
Queue management technology results, on average, in a 35 percent increase in service efficiency.
5. Managers are better informed.
Technology, such as real-time monitoring, provide critical metrics to managers to help understand what’s happening in a queue-right now. There needn’t be any guesses for managers about decision-making – they’ll know immediately if customers are waiting too long, if queue volume suddenly shifts, if the productivity of agents is in question, or if there are any mishaps that occur within a line that could affect overall customer satisfaction. Alerts can be delivered via text, email, or other digital method so that alterations can be made instantly.
Technology, which is the answer to so many things in our modern society, is clearly one of the reasons why some businesses excel in queue management and others do not. A willingness to adjust, implement digital developments, and give your customer base something new to appreciate and rely upon can truly make the difference between success and failure.