COVID-19 changed the way businesses function. As a result, customer flow management is more important than ever as leaders seek to empower the customer, improve the employee experience and collect actionable data to potentially scale their business.
Implementing a sophisticated digital queue management system is an effective strategy for managing customer flow, with a number of benefits for both customers and workers. Here are just a few ways a good system can improve your business operations.
1. Minimize crowded waiting areas.
Prior to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, customers gave little thought to the number of people in a lobby or waiting room outside of how long they could expect to wait. Three years later, customers would rather not spend time in such close proximity to others if they can help it.
Virtual queue solutions alleviate those concerns. Instead of arriving at a store, seeing a long line and choosing to shop elsewhere, customers can check in remotely and wait anywhere they like: at home, enjoying a bite to eat or even browsing the store where they need service.
2. Mitigate wait times.
Long gone are the days of shoppers making their list of errands and hoping each stop doesn’t mean a long wait that throws off the rest of their day. Instead, when customers check into virtual queue software, they receive an estimated wait time and a time they should plan to arrive at the outlet.
While they go about their day going to the bank or meeting a friend for lunch, real-time updates keep customers informed. They know if their service time will be delayed or if they can come earlier than expected. The software also gives buyers the opportunity to drop back in line if they need some extra time before their scheduled arrival.
3. Improve customer service.
Employees facing an unorganized crowd of customers who all need assistance at the same time can feel overwhelmed and burned out. They also have no way to know ahead of time what individuals need, making it challenging to complete some transactions quickly and efficiently.
Virtual queue management, in contrast, alerts staff about what each shopper needs before they arrive so workers can prepare information, products or services for their arrival. And because customers can wait anywhere, employees can focus on the person standing in front of them instead of worrying about the crowd of people behind them.
When workers are empowered, they are productive instead of hectic, even during the busiest times of peak customer demand. They’re also more likely to experience higher job satisfaction and stay on the job longer, reducing the need (and the cost) to recruit and train new employees.
4. Maximize potential.
A good virtual queue system will include a centralized management dashboard, robust reporting and a customizable interface.
By accessing historical and real-time data from any device, managers can monitor operations from across the sales floor or from an entirely different location. This data can let leadership know where staff is needed, how long people wait on average, what the most common customer traffic patterns are, which queues are in demand and when, and more — and these insights can be used to promote efficiency.
By understanding which services are needed most and when, the employees with the most experience in those areas can be scheduled accordingly. Likewise, if demand increases for one queue over another, employees can be moved on the fly to provide service to those customers until the rush is over.
Here are a few specific ways virtual queuing can help you maximize your organization’s potential:
Improve employee performance: Reports also measure employee performance by monitoring average service time and number of customers served, for example. This way, store management can more accurately measure performance so they can highlight consistently high performers and provide additional training for workers who need to get up to speed.
Increase satisfaction and sales: The same software customers check into remotely can be used to communicate with them while they wait and after their business concludes. Delivering a personalized experience based on how they interact with the system includes sending promos and offers while they wait. You can keep sending surveys, quizzes and other content after they complete their transaction, providing a unique opportunity to market to them the products and services they want, need or already use.
While customers wait is also a great time to take advantage of impulse buys. Shoppers who choose to browse while they wait will ring up purchases they never intended. Happier customers buy more and buy more often, so why not position certain items in strategic locations around the store?
Adapt to business needs: Seamless integration is necessary because no one system can do it all. Virtual queue management systems integrate into a business’ website and mobile app as well as with APIs for CRM, POS and other platforms and systems needed to keep operations running.
We live in an experience economy — and a global one at that. The speed at which news spreads about good and bad customer experiences increases every day, and the retail industry remains one of the most competitive. Any business that wants to improve its customer and employee experiences for increased customer satisfaction and revenue growth needs a virtual queue management system sooner rather than later.
Jamie Ladd is a Senior Account Executive at Qtrac where he specializes in building strategic partnerships for Qtrac’s virtual queuing solutions in a variety of industries including retail, higher education, government, and banking. With over 10 years of experience in queuing, Ladd has a strong track record of success in building relationships with clients and helping them deliver a world-class customer experience.