5 Creative Ways to Use a Virtual Queue

October 18, 2012Perry Kuklin

It’s common to find virtual queues in restaurants, the DMV, and hospitals – customers arrive, check in, and then wait their turn without standing in a physical line. There is no reason this method of waiting can’t be implemented across a wider range of businesses, even those steeped in the tradition of a typical waiting line. In fact, there are virtues to a virtual queue that can actually attract and delight customers and turn a dreaded experience into a pleasant one. Here are a few creative ideas to get your ideas flowing in a more “virtual” direction:

1. Make the Coffee Rush Convenient

virtual queue coffee shop

The morning or lunchtime rush at any coffee shop is enough to make a person crazy as they stand in line, crane their neck, and estimate just how much time they’re going to waste waiting for their turn. Instead of a traditional queue that only feeds impatience, a virtual queue could allow waiting patrons to peruse impulse merchandise – to-go snacks, cake pop kits, bagged coffee, magazines, and more – or settle into a comfy chair while waiting their turn. The ticket that customers receive upon check-in could even include an up-sell incentive for a savory baked good to go along with their java. The casual virtual waiting area would allow baristas to pass out samples and even collect pre-orders to help customers feel like they’re already getting started.

2. Help Customers Relax About Banking

Business people put the “busy” in business. So if you’re a bank that serves business customers, why not reserve a virtual queue waiting area as a de-stress zone for busy people and give them a good excuse to take a break. Reclining massage chairs, vibrating massage pads for a quick foot massage, headphones with relaxing music (or docking stations for iPods), or handy pen and paper for jotting down notes… These simple ideas might make a world of difference to someone who’s too busy for waiting around.

3. Set Shoppers at Ease

virtual queue comfortable seating

Retailers may think their options are limited to a waiting line, but creating a comfortable seating area that’s tricked out with comfy sofas and chairs and merchandising displays can put customers at ease and improve sales. Perhaps feature some of the latest trendy accessories – that infinity scarf or iPhone case that’s also a wallet – and play videos demonstrating how these items work best. Allowing customers to “play” before they buy can convince them all the more that a purchase is right for them – and they won’t even realize they’re waiting in the process.

4. Allow Fans Time to Browse

Sales at a stadium gift shop can suffer when the waiting line is long since intermissions are short and people want to get back to their seats in time. Use the virtual queue to allow people to shop while they wait in line. Shop areas like this are also notoriously small and crowded – eliminating a traditional queue in such a space will make guests much happier. When people feel like the line is too long, they’re more likely to shop quickly (and buy less) because they feel pressure to claim their spot in the queue, or they may walk out without purchasing anything. Use the check-in kiosk to deliver offers that drive additional impulse sales and allow fans to grab a few more items while they wait. The queuing ticket can also present offers, such as season ticket specials.

5. Make It a Mobile Wait

virtual queue mobile checkin

If someone has a smartphone, chances are it’s practically glued to their hand. They know how to operate their life, work, schedule, and priorities on a mobile device. So go mobile with your queue. Whenever you're dealing with long lines, a virtual queue can eliminate the wait altogether by allowing customers to check in, leave, and return at an “assigned” time or when called back via a text message delivered to their mobile phone. Whether a restaurant at the mall, an oil change service, a hair salon, you name it, virtual queuing with text messaging alerts can free up customers to take care of other chores while waiting. Whatever business you’re in, consider any of these virtual queue configurations for your waiting area. Have a busy smoothie store? Apply the coffee shop technique. Operating a spa? Use the banking suggestion to create a zen atmosphere for clients to pass the time before the real pampering begins. Busy museum gift shop? Follow the stadium recommendation. Still not sure what’s right for your enterprise? Contact an expert at Lavi for suggestions on how to creatively incorporate a virtual queue into your environment.

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