Waiting Lines and the Customer Experience

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According to a recent Oracle Global Research Study, 97 percent of executives agree that delivering a great customer experience is critical to business advantage and results. It also found the average potential revenue loss associated with a negative, inconsistent, and brand-irrelevant customer experience is estimated at 20 percent of annual revenue. Unfortunately, many businesses struggle to develop successful strategies to avoid these losses.

Waiting in line is a common and often negative situation impacting a customer’s overall perception of the customer experience. And while it’s a seemingly small piece of the overall puzzle, it’s one that has a clear impact.

Narayan Janakiraman, an assistant professor of marketing at Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona, says shoppers are likely to abandon a line that might take between one and 10 minutes to get through after the first two or three minutes if they feel it isn’t moving sufficiently fast enough for them.

Another recent retail study found that 49 percent of customers will leave a store because of the mere presence of a waiting line, 81 percent will tell others about their bad experience, and 38 percent would consider never returning and shopping elsewhere because of lengthy or poorly managed lines.

Managing waiting lines is an important priority for businesses striving to build a better customer experience.

So, how is it accomplished? One study found that 87 percent of consumers are willing to use some type of technology if it keeps them from waiting in line at retail stores, and 67 percent would use online check-in or download an app that saved their places in line at a retail business.

Virtual queuing delivers both.

Virtual queuing systems allow businesses to eliminate the waiting line, and today’s systems also allow for online or mobile check-in where customers can save their place in line ahead of arrival. A clothing store, for example, could implement an in-store virtual queue that allows shoppers to continue perusing the racks, or even have more time in the dressing room, instead of standing in line. For people who are completely done shopping and ready to purchase, a virtual waiting area would allow them the opportunity to sit down, check their email, make a phone call, or just rest while they wait their turn, unencumbered by the constraints of a physical line.

Online or mobile check-in can be especially valuable to businesses, allowing customers to get in line before they even leave the house, or while they’re on the way, or while they’re running other errands. Businesses can notify those “in line” when their turn is near so they can make their way to their destination, essentially eliminating the wait entirely.

Considering the risks, steps taken to improve the customer experiencecustomer experience—in particular, the waiting line—are steps well taken. Virtual queuing technology is just one way to reduce the stress and potential negative impacts of waiting in line.

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