What to Do With Your Captive Audience in the Queue

October 07, 2014Perry Kuklin

Customers who are waiting in a queue are a captive audience. They can be captivated by how slowly the line seems to be moving or by the fact that they’d much rather be doing something other than waiting. Or they can be captivated by something more positive and interesting. Obviously, as a business, you want customers to leave your store with the “positive and interesting” vibe, not the “slow and wasteful” perception. One way to accomplish this is to follow the advice of Dr. Richard Larson, a.k.a. “Dr. Queue.” The renowned MIT professor has a set of queuing tenets and one of the tenets that best exemplifies how a business can capitalize on their customers’ time spent queuing is this: Occupied time feels shorter than unoccupied time. Pretty simple and downright obvious, but what exactly can you do to occupy time in the queue? Here are our three top recommendations:

In Line Merchandise

1. Let them keep shopping

Sometimes customers get in the queue because they want to beat the rush, or they have a schedule to keep and must start wrapping up their trip. But that doesn’t mean they’re done shopping – in fact, many might wish they could shop a little longer. In-line merchandising makes it possible. In-queue merchandising doesn’t have to only consist of candy bars, magazines, and lip balm (though these bread-and-butter items should never be overlooked). Hot-ticket items can be placed strategically throughout the line as well. All the while, this captive queue of customers remains a shopping queue of customers who have forgotten the fact that they’re stuck in a line.

2. Keep them entertained

The majority of the population has a smartphone, which is the easiest thing to turn to when in a waiting situation, whether at the doctor’s office or grocery store. But a mobile device doesn’t have to be the default distraction for every customer. If your queue is equipped with the right kind of entertainment, your customers will be occupied long enough to keep them happy in the line and, sometimes, even forgetting that that they’re waiting altogether. Digital displays situated within or alongside the line make it easy to run a commercial, promotional stills, how-to videos, feeds of your Twitter or Instagram pages, or plain old cartoons, bloopers, or throwback television shows – anything that keeps people busy and focused on anything but the wait is acceptable fare.

Virtual Queue

3. Let them loose

Who said every line has to be one of captivity? Get rid of the line completely and instead opt for a virtual queuing system. Patrons will be delighted to have the opportunity to spend their time as they please, rather than being forced to wait in a snaking queue, worrying about the person in front of them and how long their transaction is or isn’t taking, or fretting that they chose the “slow” line. The virtual queue makes it easy for customers to register for their place in line, enhances business-customer communication, and gives people the freedom to wait where they want and how they want. Depending on the nature of your business, customers may even be able to leave the premises while they wait or register for their spot in line before they even walk through your doors. What will you do with your captive audience to make their queuing experience a positive one? Talk with a Lavi queue management expert about how to realign your queue to satisfy customers’ needs and take them from feeling captive to feeling appreciated and understood.

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