Ideally no one would have to wait in line, ever, but we all know that is wishful thinking, especially with the holiday season upon us. However, waiting in line does not have to cause customer anxiety or dissatisfaction. There are steps you can take to make your queue more efficient which creates a satisfying experience that will keep your customers coming back. So, as the holiday shopping season approaches, give your customers 5 queuing practices they will be thankful for.
Give your customers something to do or think about that will distract them from the wait at hand. Unoccupied time can cause the perception that the wait is longer than it actually is resulting in irritable and dissatisfied customers, or worse, a lost customer. There are several solutions for combatting this problem, including digital signage in the queue, in-line merchandising, or a virtual queuing solution. Digital signage can be used to play interesting and entertaining informational videos or advertisements. In-line merchandising allows customers to browse carefully selected products keeping hands and minds occupied. A virtual queuing system allows your customers to continue shopping while waiting for service or just relax instead of waiting in a potentially stressful line.
The perceived wait is over when the transaction or service begins, which is not necessarily at the physical point of service. Unloading your shopping cart, completing paperwork while waiting in line, and placing your fast food order before reaching the window are all examples of when customers believe service has begun. The faster you can make contact with your customers, the faster they believe they are on their way out the door. Additionally, this process increases the efficiency of your line and the transaction that takes place at your service point. So, start your process sooner and increase customer satisfaction.
Managing your waiting lines can reduce anxiety or better yet, keep it from starting in the first place. Plan the purpose of your queue carefully to promote fairness and reduce the need for your customers to make decisions as to which line is best. Instead, support a first come, first served ideology either through a single-line queue or an electronic queuing system. Using easy to follow visual and auditory cues to support your system will help your customers feel that your checkout process is easy and that they are fairly treated, which ultimately promotes a relaxed environment.
You have a goal for how quickly you will get customers through your queue. You have measured that goal and know what is realistic. Now, let your customers know that realistic waiting time. Leaving your customers uncertain as to how long they will be in line can cause irritation, impatience and anxiety, for uncertain wait times are typically perceived as longer. Provide wait time information through signage or electronic cues. You may be surprised at how patient your customers will be when expectations are met.
Design your queue to be fair and balanced. Promote a first come, first served system whenever possible. If you do promote a special priority service for VIP customers, create a clear cut system for such cases that includes a separate line or process for check out. Eliminate queue jumping, or cutting in line, completely. Use clearly defined lines marked by stanchions and barriers or better yet, use an electronic queuing system. Keep these 5 queuing practices in mind as you create a more enjoyable checkout experience your customers will be thankful for this holiday season.