Boo! Top 10 Scariest Queue Management Mistakes

October 31, 2016Perry Kuklin

This busy season, make sure you’re not making any of these frightening mis-steps in your queue management system. Any of these mistakes could be enough to scare your customers away.

1. Failing to Keep Customers Occupied While They Wait

Do not expect customers to endure a long wait without any engagement. Field studies show that customers who wait in line without communication or engagement experience longer perceived wait time and are more likely to abandon the line. Digital signage and interesting merchandise can distract and engage customers during their wait, reducing perceived wait time and potentially even generating impulse sales.

2. Merchandising That is Too Much, Too High

Piling it high might sound like a good in-queue merchandising strategy but no customer wants to feel like they’re “stuck in line.” Check your queue for gondolas that are simply too tall for your patrons. The last thing you want is for your customers to feel like they are in a tunnel or worse yet, a trap.

3. Leaving Wait Time to Chance

There’s no need anymore to have long lines linger or for peak times to take managers by surprise.  Today’s queue management technology allows managers to use real-time analytics to monitor when wait times approach unacceptable limits. Set wait time goals and use today’s tech tools to help you meet or even exceed them and keep customers happy too.

4. Failing to Provide Estimated Wait Times

Known waits feel shorter than unknown waits. Informed customers can relax and use the time they know they have in line to occupy their minds with other things. With no information posted about actual wait times or which checkout lines are moving fastest, waiting customers have to stay attentive to the queue progress and that can make it all feel too long.

5. Failing to Provide a Clear Cue to the Queue

When a customer is ready to check out or be served, there should be no question in their mind about where to go. When customers clearly know how to navigate your queue from start to finish, you have a much better chance to avoid the type of friction that can cause customers to renege.

6. Breaking the First-Come-First-Served Rule

There are few things worse to a customer than feeling like the line they’re in is “the slow one” or that the person who got there after them is getting served sooner. With a multiple-line queue, customers must take a chance on which line will be the shortest. In contrast, offering a single-line queue with multiple servers allows customers to experience true fairness.

7. Neglecting to Merchandise the Perimeter

Customers will come into the queue from multiple directions. Don’t make the mistake of merchandising the inside of the queue well and forgetting about the outside. If you can, merchandise all around the queue and leading up to it from any direction as well as the queue itself. That way you’ll be sure to catch everyone.

8. Merchandising the Turns

If your queue wraps around in serpentine fashion, be extra careful about placing merchandise at the turns. This placement can lead to knock-overs and damage along with an embarrassed customer.

9. Failing to Clearly Call Forward

One of the happiest moments in a queue is hearing “next” and knowing it’s your turn. If customers can’t see the line clearly progressing or can’t tell when it’s going to be their turn, this leaves them in a state of alert where the wait can seem longer than it actually is. Simply adding a clear way for customers to know who’s next and how many people are ahead will help customers remain relaxed and happy.

10. Failing to Merchandise the “Short Cut”

When you shorten up your queue during less-busy times, is your merchandising left out? If all of your merchandise exists in the “long” line configuration you’ll miss out on opportunities to capture impulse sales when the line is shorter. Providing your customers with a great queuing experience can mean more treats for your business in the form of greater profits and happier customers. Avoid these mistakes and you’ll be well on your way.

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