Enticed by the abundance of vowels and motivated by a spirited delight in facilitating personalised and human visitor experiences, Hakim is a digital content strategist at Wavetec. She specialises in the articulation of queue management and self-service solutions, edifying them to wider networks of businesses.
In This Blog:
- What factors effect the queuing experience?
- How can the negative impacts of these be mitigated?
Waiting in line has been a divisive point for many customers. Some people do not mind queues, while others detest the idea of being made to physically wait. The two camps make strong arguments in their support.
Waiting in line is criminal
The uncertainty of waiting in line is stressful and unnecessary. The anxiety you feel when you see a long or slowly advancing queue will gradually evolve into annoyance. Which will give way to dissatisfaction and bad customer experiences.
It also feels exceedingly unfair to have to queue so long for the product or service you want. Long queues could mean time that could be spent on productive tasks or errands is lost.
Waiting in line isn’t so bad
A 2015 study, published in Cognitive Processing, found that even while waiting in line (a benign activity) you are working on your spatial cognition skills. You essentially get better at noticing what is around you and being aware of how you process and react to that. Another study showed that effective waiting systems for emergency rooms aided in reducing both patient anxiety and staff stress.
Queues sometimes allow us some time to think, ruminate, read, finish a text, call a friend - basically anything you do not find time for during your day. You now have the time and you are using it productively. Also, completing the wait is like fulfilling a goal. And the satisfaction of that is great!
Regardless of your customer’s opinion on waiting in line, it is worthwhile to ensure that you as a business and/or service provider make their experience simple, swift and short - be it actual or perceived wait times!
To do so, it is important to understand the factors that impact the experience of waiting in line.
Factors that affect the wait
We are likely to only remember the beginning and end of each experience - serial position effect. And the start of most customer experiences in retail, banking, healthcare, telecom, transportation, etc. is with the queue.
Therefore the wait is an important component of the consumer's journey flow, and the one that is likely to dictate their feedback and rating of the experience.
Lack of informational transparency
When customers do not have complete information about the queue, they are in the dark and likely to remain confused and uncertain. This information includes:
- How long the queue is OR what is your position in the queue?
- How long will it take for your turn to arrive (actual or estimated)?
- What SOPs or protocols need to be followed while waiting in the queue?
Lack of fairness, rules and structure
A disorganized queue, without any rules being followed, is chaos. People will be likely to skip the queue, or join the wrong one and hold up those behind them.
This is unfair and there is something annoying and distasteful about an unfair queuing environment. Be it first-come-first-serve or other service rules of thumb, one or the other should be in place to keep consumers content.
Lack of progression
Satisfaction comes from the feeling that things are being accomplished, that they are in motion! Which is why when waiting in a stagnant line, unhappiness is rampant.
People often have other tasks, errands, duties to complete. Therefore they want the wait to be quick and smooth, so their other responsibilities do not need to suffer.
Solutions for queuing customer satisfaction
Businesses must take steps to deploy systems and strategies that will both reduce wait times and improve customer satisfaction. The goal should be to afford each customer with a frictionless and customized experience - keeping them patient and positive during the process.
Earning customer loyalty is paramount - they must be able to visit your place of business with the surety that they will be treated equally, efficiently and in accordance with the standards they have become accustomed to.
Queue Management systems
- Reduced customer wait and service time by 50%
- Optimized staff productivity
- Increased customer satisfaction by 30%
- Central control and ease of use
- Seamless fusion with all managerial and operational components
- Frictionless customer journeys
- Measured KPIs and operational efficiency
Digital signage distracts, engages, informs and guides your customers without the need for additional staff deployments or much confusion. It is simple, easy-to-install and will keep customers occupied with relevant information while they wait.
- Inform customers of queuing statistics in real-time
- Engage their attention
- Guide them through your premises and to the counter/office where they can be served
- Cross-sell or upsell additional products and services - market and advertise your business offerings
- Reduce perceived wait times
Real-time notifications and updates
Keep your customers up-to-date with real-time notifications about their appointment, queuing status, new product launches, service improvements, and important information (like operational hours).
- Make use of a QR code, webpage or mobile app to onboard customers
- Deploy a mobile queuing system that send alerts via SMS, email, WhatsApp
- Allow customers a seamless and digital onboarding experience
- Facilitate remote and virtual queuing as consumers wait where ever they want
- Ensure that queues do not accumulate on-premises as customers know when to arrive
- Open a direct line of communication between the business and the client
Pre-arrival Appointment Scheduling
With an appointment scheduling system deployed, customers can book their slot, at their branch and time of choice. They will then receive notifications about their appointment time, arrive on time, and without the need to queue, be served swiftly.
This will prevent queues, allow staff and management to prepare in advance for the customer and help the client plan their day better and more efficiently.
Data-driven report analysis and planning
Foot traffic, staff performance, branch performance and hardware performance data is collected, analyzed and presented in reports via Spectra dashboards. These facilitate businesses in:
- Making better and more-informed business decisions
- Predicting flow volumes, and properly preparing for them
- Identifying problem areas and rectifying the issues
- Keeping tabs and monitoring performance in real-time
The greatest asset to a business is the feedback that they receive and collect from their customers. This is invaluable as a source of what to do, what to avoid and what to rectify. It can be collected via mobile app, SMS, email, WhatsApp and physical on-premises devices.
When customers serve themselves, they are doing so contactlessly, in their own time, on their own terms and seamlessly with Wavetec’s self service kiosks. With a wide range of multilingual capabilities, these solutions are operable 24/7 and by extended operational hours they reduce the likelihood of long waits or tedious queues. They are intuitive, secure, customizable and user-friendly!
Other ways to guarantee happier queuing customers
- Ensure that your waiting area has comfortable seating and varied literature (magazines, newspapers, comics, color books)
- Set up a play area for children to occupy themselves with while their guardians are otherwise engaged - improving and simplifying the customer experience
- Decorate your premises with on-brand and engaging art work, colors and lighting
- Detail the steps you have taken to alleviate the pain of queuing on your website - for most customers this is their first impression of what they will experience when they visit your premises. And despite the queue, they will know that an effort has been made, and that will be appreciated
How will your customers feel about this?
The best and most trusted valuation of a successful customer begins and ends with the opinion of their customers. This is the difference between how they feel they have been treated and how they expected to have been treated and served. If the difference is negligible, congratulations! The goal ultimately is to enable them to:
- Feel valued
- Look forward to personable and streamlined care
- Be likely to visit again and more frequently
- Suggest and recommend your products and services to people they know
- Self-sufficient with self service, appointments, notifications and feedback solutions
Queues cannot be eliminated entirely. The demand for services and products will outweigh the supply, the majority of the time. But what can be managed, monitored and maneuvered is the perceived wait times and customer experience. After all, as Richard Larson says, “Often the psychology of queuing is more important than the statistics of the wait itself.”