When your business involves a queue and plenty of waiting, there’s no doubt one of your main goals is to enhance the customer experience and speed up that queue. Whether a retail store, bank, public service center, or otherwise, these three steps to better customer flow can improve your reputation and the satisfaction of the customers who come and go through your doors.
Thanks to technology, customers can make an appointment or reserve their spot in line through their smartphone or computer. Offering an online registration system or handy app means you’re managing customer flow before people even step into the physical line at your place of business. This effort reduces the amount of time a customer actually spends waiting, making a positive impact on their overall experience with your enterprise. Pre-queuing also gives you the ability to control the flow of customers by steering people away from peak hours and encouraging them to book their spot during down times – this allows a business to maintain a steady flow of traffic rather than being forced to deal with unexpected ebbs and flows of people, and this also satisfies customers by respecting their time and encouraging them to make wise decisions about how they spend it.
A good example here is the DMV, where we tend to be presented with a “check in” area where we’re asked to specify the services we’ve come in for (license renewal, vehicle registration, driver’s exam, etc.). Based on our selection we are issued a place in the waiting line—typically a printed ticket with a queuing number. We have essentially been separated into queues arranged throughout the facility by service type. This bit of “sorting” upon arrival can also be done simply—for any business—through a self-service kiosk or any internet-enable device, such as an iPad or iPhone as customers arrive. Ultimately, this upon-arrival queuing step allows businesses to make queuing more efficient by directing people to the exact right service station. It can be used to guide VIP customers to one line and general transactions to another. Business customers to one group of queues, consumers to another. The possibilities are endless.
Customer flow management is especially necessary during the actual time a customer spends waiting. While the previous two steps are active, waiting is typically passive; this is when customers are easily disgruntled and the customer service experience is easily tainted. Having taken measures to improve the actual wait time, now it’s necessary to influence a customer’s perceived wait time. Thanks, yet again, to technology, there are plenty of ways to go about making that wait seem shorter than it actually is. Creating a virtual queue that allows people to sit or stand or walk around as freely as they please while they wait for their turn to be called takes the focus away from the actual waiting part because they aren’t forced to remain in one place. A virtual queue environment as well as a linear queue can be enhanced by the presence of LCD screens offering informative or entertaining footage that keeps peoples busy and distracted and minimizes the perceived wait time. Customer flow is all about optimizing the number and pattern of customers coming into or through your place of business. With the right approach, you can smooth out the flow of customers in the queue and achieve a long list of benefits in the process. Talk with a Lavi expert to plan your approach.