10 Ideas to Solve Just About Any Queuing Problem

April 20, 2016Perry Kuklin

Every business is as unique as every waiting line. But there are some core challenges that every business faces. From maintaining queue integrity to keeping wait times in check, we’ve compiled some of our most popular queue management ideas to address the most common queuing challenges for you here:

Idea #1: Magnetic Base Stanchions

Magnetic base posts help create a semi-permanent but flexible barrier that is designed specifically for high-traffic venues that call out for a sturdy stanchion that won’t shift out of place. The magnet firmly attaches to a floor-mounted steel plate, keeping the stanchion in place until you’re ready to move it for cleaning or rearranging the queue.

Problem solved: Compromised queue integrity
When your queue perimeter or partition wall is continually challenged to maintain its integrity as customer traffic flows through, you need a strong base. You want to avoid core-drilling stanchions into the floor but seek the integrity and strength of a permanent solution.

Idea #2: Publish Estimated Wait Times

Queuing expert David Maister established the theory that known waits feel shorter than unknown waits. Presenting people with an estimated wait time at the start of the queue sets the stage for a far more patient customer encounter. This can be accomplished with digital signage at the queue entrance, through text messaging integrated with a virtual queuing system, or with simple static signage at certain points in the queue.

Problem solved: Customer complaints about wait times
When customers know how long they’ll be expected to wait, they’re more likely to tolerate the wait and less likely to overestimate how long they've been waiting. And that makes for a more enjoyable waiting experience.

Idea #3: Know your “counts.”

footfall analytics solutions are a queue manager's best friend. A variety of people-counting technologies are available to assist, ranging from sensors to WiFi tracking. Find the best solution for your particular business, and get busy counting.

Problem solved: Wait times in check
Tracking how many customers are in and around the queuing area, and also tracking current average wait times, estimated future wait times, and abandonment rates and customer traffic patterns can give you valuable insight to keep wait times in check, conversions high, and customers satisfied. But you can’t just do this by eyeballing the queue.

Idea #4: In-Queue Merchandising

In-queue merchandising gives you the opportunity to market easy last-minute purchases to your customers through convenient in-line displays, bowls, baskets, and racks. In-line merchandising serves to not only boost impulse sales but also to keep people entertained and engaged while they wait. This can make the wait feel shorter, and the cash register ring higher.

Problem solved: Keep customers occupied while they wait
Waiting is a means to an end and something that plenty of customers hate. But waiting doesn’t have to feel boring or annoying. If you feel like your queue is lacking something, or you’re hearing directly from customers that the wait is far too painful, it’s time to keep patrons busy while boosting your bottom line.

Idea #5: Extra-Long, Portable Retractable Belts

Extra-long retractable belts that can be wheeled out to any location can provide the perfect answer. Take our own JetTrac(TM) Dual as an example. Its two 65-foot retractable belts make it easy to extend the queue in any direction as the need arises. And because it has a large wheeled base, it’s easy for a single employee to wheel out and set up – and just as easy to put away when the line goes down.

Problem solved: Unusually long lines
A large influx of customers arriving at the same time is an inevitable situation at airports. But many other businesses can experience a similar queuing challenge. When a sudden increase in customer arrival rates causes lines to back up into other areas of your facility, the resulting congestion can cause a whirlwind of problems.

Idea #6: A Single-Line, Multi-Server Queue Configuration

By implementing a single-line multi-server queue, there is less variation in the time a customer spends waiting. All customers experience a fair, first-come, first-served wait in a single-line queue. And, in this set-up, average wait times will decrease. Plus, eliminating the need for customers to choose the “right” line reduces their stress. If one transaction or customer is taking longer than another, the additional points of service keep the single line flowing instead of backing up one queue while other queues continue to move.

Problems solved: Queue jumping and reneging
When customers are dissatisfied with the queue they’re in, they may jump to another “better” queue. But the idea of “better” is relative. The queue might look shorter than the one a customer is in, but that doesn’t mean it’s working more efficiently or moving faster. The goal is to eliminate queue jumping entirely so customers don’t get frustrated when they choose the “wrong” line.

Idea #7: Pre-Scheduled Waits

Let your customers set appointments or reserve their place in line before they arrive. When you operate a virtual queue equipped with scheduling software, customers can make a service appointment online or through a mobile app before they even arrive at your place of business.

Problems solved: Streamlined wait times and predictable workloads
If your customers know that your wait could be streamlined, faster, and just plain improved, then you owe it to them to consider the possibilities. Not only can the convenience of pre-scheduled absolutely delight customers, it can allow you to better manage the scheduling of your employees and the service workload. And, ultimately, the wait time is drastically reduced on the day of service.

Idea #8: Call-Forward Queuing

A call-forward system uses visual and audio queues to hail customers to the next available service station. Confusion is lessened about what agent is available and customers don’t have to be super-focused on paying attention in the queue because they know their turn will come and they’ll be notified of it.

Problem solved: A more efficient way to hail customers
Sure, it’s important for the next person in line to be hailed to the available service counter, but service agents yelling “Next in line!” every time a space opens up is undesirable in any situation.

Idea #9: Virtual Queuing

Eliminating the physical queue entirely can make you and your customers happier. Virtual queuing provides customers with the opportunity to do whatever they would like while they wait – whether people want to shop more or sit and rest somewhere or do anything else with their time, being freed from waiting in an actual line makes customers happier.

Problem solved: Disperse waiting crowds
When you’re looking to free up space that is taken up by a meandering queue or a jumble of people waiting for their turn at the counter, you need a queuing option that makes it easy for people to circulate and frees up floor space.

Idea #10: Directional Signage

Directional signage tells people where to go, where to wait for a service agent, where to find a shorter line, where a line begins or ends, and which line is appropriate for a person’s particular needs. Using clear language and images on directional signage eliminates customer frustration and makes it easy for customers to navigate in, around, and through your queue without confusion or the need for assistance. Directional signage also improves service efficiency overall by freeing agents from managing crowds so they can focus on serving customers.

Problem solved: A clear path to and through the queue
All queues are not created equal, and all queues are not intuitive. It’s detrimental to assume that every customer is going to automatically know their way around your waiting line or queuing area, especially if the queue is less than instinctive.

Hopefully some of the ideas presented here can address some of your own queue management challenges. Ready to plan your approach? Speak with a Lavi expert about your business needs.

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