Guest author Jean Moncrieff explores the growth and benefits of Virtual Queue Management and its effect on organizations.
Last week, I queued in a line that snaked out the building, down the street, and around the corner. Many of us arrived long before opening time and some from the day before. None of us knew how long we'd wait.
At first, the mood was good, and our spirits were high...
"The queue is shorter than usual," someone chirped. "The online system is more painful than queueing," remarked another. And we joked amongst ourselves when an enterprising fellow walked the line offering chairs to rent.
But the queue moved at a snail's pace and it wasn't long before frustration and anxiety took hold – how long would this take?
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I look forward to queuing about as much as I enjoy a visit to my dentist – who happens to be a lovely Irish fellow with a wicked sense of humor.
For most of us, standing in a line is a painful, frustrating experience. But for others, the anxiety associated with queuing is borderline terrifying.
There is even a term for it: Agoraphobia.
Here's how those customers and patients describe it...
I feel trapped in the queue.
I feel like people are looking at me - they can see I'm panicking
I can't breathe
My palms get sweaty
My hands shake when I am paying for my goods
There are times when I've just walked out of the shop
I want to walk out, but then I think people would stare, and I'd be so embarrassed
I spend ages hanging around, waiting for the queue to get shorter
I dread going to the shops!
According to Marléne Rose Shaw, “Many people experience panic in busy places, such as the supermarket, the bank or high street shops. Being stuck in a queue can make it feel even worse.".
Why would you want a customer experience akin to visiting the dentist?
No one looks forward to waiting in line at a store, medical center, bank, or any place, for that matter. We've become accustomed to instant gratification. It's why Amazon continues to erode business from traditional retailers. Hell, we hardly want to move off the sofa, let alone stand in your queue.
I tell you this because the cost of long waiting lines results in unhappy customers who will abandon their purchase, never to return.
Virtual queuing frees customers from standing in line...
Virtual queue management takes the pain from queuing for a product or service by removing your customers from the physical line or lobby. And the beauty is that it works for any business – big or small, near or far, retail or healthcare.
What is a virtual queue management system?
A virtual queue management system is a system that places customers in a virtual waiting line or queue, where they don't have to physically wait in line to buy a product or get a service. Instead, customers can 'queue' remotely with a virtual queue management system without being bound to any waiting spot.
Here are the seven ways virtual queuing can catapult your organization into the 21st century...
1. Virtual Queuing Slashes Wait Times
Customers will endure wait times of 5 to 10 minutes. For Brits, that number is more precise: 5 minutes and 54 seconds, or the Rule of Six – the time a customer is willing to wait in line.
The longer your customer waits, the less satisfied they become, and the more likely they will abandon a purchase.
This behavior comes at a cost for customers: they feel impatient, angry, and like your customer service failed them. And that comes at a cost to your business:
- It can destroy your reputation.
- And it results in fewer sales and lost revenues.
Virtual queuing means customers don't have to wait in lines, which means happier citizens, a significant increase in sales for retailers, and higher patient satisfaction scores for healthcare providers.
2. Virtual Queuing Eradicates Waiting Rooms
Physical waiting rooms are crowded and chaotic, causing customers to feel frustrated and anxious, while a continuous stream of questions leaves employees feeling flustered and overwhelmed.
Virtual queue management technology creates a virtual lobby where customers can monitor their place in a queue while getting on with other things – they don't need to be physically present. Instead, they can arrive shortly before the appointed time (5 minutes and 54 seconds, to be exact), liberating your business from chaotic waiting rooms and long waiting lines.
Customers receive virtual tickets, telling them exactly where they are in a queue, including the forecasted wait time and the number of customers before them.
3. Virtual Queuing Improves Communications with Customers
When customers schedule an appointment, they receive an appointment confirmation via their preferred channel – text message, email, or carrier pigeon (actually, that integration is no longer available).
As their appointment date nears, customers receive appointment reminders and the option to rebook, reducing the number of no-shows.
Customers can check-in online and receive a virtual ticket on the day of their appointment, much like a boarding pass. But unlike the hurry-up-and-wait airport experience, customers keep an eye on their virtual ticket, only having to arrive shortly before their allotted appointment time.
A virtual ticket provides precise information about a customer's location in the queue and their expected wait time.
Facilitating communication throughout the customer journey empowers customers to cancel or rebook an appointment when required and creates a better experience for everyone.
4. Virtual Queuing Empowers Employees
Long lines and unhappy customers cost your business and your staff, too. According to a study, 33% of employees feel stressed at their workplace, preventing them from doing their best or providing good customer service. The cost of this stress is staggering for your business:
- Overwhelmed employees are more likely to leave the business and find another job. And the cost of recruiting and training new employees is enormous.
- Stressed employees cannot meet high standards when dealing with customer complaints. And unfriendly staff impacts the perception of your business reputation and performance in the eyes of your clients.
“A whopping 47.8 million workers in the U.S. left their jobs voluntarily in 2021, the highest number of resignations cited by the Bureau of Labor Statistics since they started tracking such data in 2001.” - Mashable
Retaining your employees and empowering them in their job is vital to the success of your business. Q-Flow's virtual queue management allows your staff to focus on serving customers by reducing frustrating and time-consuming tasks like customer complaints, chaotic waiting rooms, information requests, appointments, and walk-ins.
Your employees can manage their time better and deal with customers more efficiently, removing unnecessary stress and helping to provide better service.
5. Virtual Queuing Results in Data-Driven Decisions
Virtual queuing systems collect data across your entire customer journey, and you can use this data to make more informed decisions.
For instance, you can track the average time to serve customers and use that information to make crucial decisions, such as staff training, store opening times, or promotional campaigns to launch in-store during peak times.
Your business likely lacks data about the entire customer journey, insights helpful to improving operations, and adapting your workforce to provide a better customer experience.
You need data to understand if the experience at your store, hospital, or DMV was successful. With Q-Flow's virtual queue management, your business can capture valuable insights like no-show rates, transaction types, service duration, and service abonnement rates.
6. Virtual Queuing Reduces Operational Costs
Inefficient practices can hurt businesses. The consequences of burdened systems or out-of-date processes can damage revenues. And standing in line is a prime example of such harm: if not managed efficiently, you increase operational costs and lose customers.
Virtual queue management reduces:
- Inefficiencies that cause bottlenecks in your customer journey and result in higher operational costs.
- Employee turnover by creating a more efficient, less chaotic work environment.
- As you deal with systematic inefficiencies, your business is missing opportunities to develop new services or products for a competitive advantage.
Q-Flow helps you reduce your operational costs and remove any bottlenecks or inefficiencies in the customer journey. Virtual queue management systems boost operating efficiencies by improving your business's overall productivity and creating more opportunities. Q-Flow's virtual queue management system increases operational efficiencies by up to 90%.
7. Virtual Queuing Improves Customer Service
Customer service is paramount for any customer-facing business. Removing bottlenecks from your customer journey and creating a frictionless experience for customers directly impacts your reputation and the bottom line of your business.
Customers are likely to pay more to receive superior customer service. So why would your business miss more sales, more customers, and more revenue?
Q-Flow's virtual queuing improves customer satisfaction by up to 100%. Customers feel more satisfied, but businesses see better results from their customer service efforts.
Request a demo today and discover the entire spectrum of Q-Flow's innovative customer experience solutions to make your business more intelligent and efficient.
Guest Article by: Jean Moncrieff
Jean is a customer experience consultant who specializes in helping organizations succeed by mapping customer experiences to spur customer-focused change and growth.