Measuring the Payback of a Better Queue


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When you look at all the areas in which a business can invest its time and attention, queue management doesn’t always jump to the top of the list. But when you consider the critical role of this phase in the buying and service process, you can find many reasons to move queuing up the priority roster.

Here are some of the key business “paybacks” of a better queue:

1. The ability to serve more customers
When you improve your queue to cut wait times or increase service efficiency, you’re naturally able to serve more customers. Consider the example of a single-line, multiple-server queue working hand-in-hand with a call-forward electronic queuing system. Here, service agents push a button to hail the next customer via audio prompts and station lights, so customers are served in the order they arrive and can easily and quickly find their way to the next available agent.

2. The chance to keep more customers
One-third of customers report they have abandoned the checkout line when forced to wait for more than five minutes. And research shows customers become frustrated after two and a half minutes of no apparent progress in a queue. When you put measures in place to reduce reneging you can salvage a higher percentage of these “abandoners.”

There are many ways to achieve this goal. Once again, the single-line queue is a good example because it can ensure that all customers experience the same kind of wait, and eliminates the anxiety of choosing the wrong line, which is a feeling that can put people over the edge and cause them to renege. It’s far easier for a customer to justifiably walk away if they feel like someone else is getting preferential treatment or they’re being forced to wait longer than anticipated because of an inefficient service agent or annoying customer.

3. The opportunity to make customers happier
A well-managed queue makes customers happy. Sometimes it isn’t about reducing the wait time (though that’s always a good thing) but rather about making the wait tolerable and, therefore, reducing the number of complaints about the waits. Entertaining and distracting customers can help keep them from getting frustrated while waiting.

With LCD screens, you can digitally display promotions and advertisements within the line, keeping customers busy with information rather than allowing them to have too much time to watch the clock. In-line merchandising can serve as a welcome distraction as well. It’s also worth considering a virtual queue and whether that kind of system can work for your business. The virtual queue promotes happiness among customers because it puts them more in charge of their own “fate” in line, allowing them to reserve their spot via mobile device, receive communications about their upcoming turn in line, and move about as they please while they wait.

Investing in improved queue management strategies is a step toward improving the customer experience. When it seems as though there’s still a missing link between your business’s offerings and customer satisfaction, take time to examine your queue – is it contributing to the success of your operation or is this the spot where problems fester?


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