A Step-By-Step Approach to Customer Queuing Analysis

A Step-By-Step Approach to Customer Queuing Analysis

Last updated: August 20, 2012Perry Kuklin

If you run a business, a venue, or an organization where people have to stand in line to be served or attended to, then it’s crucial for you to do a customer queuing analysis. Are people happy in line or are they annoyed? Is your line moving along as efficiently as possible or are there bottlenecks along the way? Have you even chosen the right waiting line configuration? There are four main elements to consider as you evaluate your line, each contributing to the quality and overall efficiency of the queue:

1. Evaluate Your Space

How much room do you really have for your queue? There might be more space available than you think, or perhaps you’ve tried to cram your line into an inadequately small space and could stand to air it out. If you’ve been using the same line format for a long time, there are likely configurations that you haven’t explored. Shaking up the same-old, same-old could make all the difference. For example, it might be more cost-effective and efficient to turn those multiple-line queues into a single-line queue. Or perhaps you need to turn your single-line into a serpentine formation.

Virtual queuing may even be an option for your business, which would allow customers to relax and occupy their time with their own thing, or with your thoughtfully targeted diversions. Whatever route you choose, always make sure there is enough space for your queue to be comfortable – and busy (see below).

2. Assess Your Signage

If your customers can’t find their way to the queue, you’ll quickly watch them find their way out the door. A successful wayfinding system is the first step to creating an effective waiting line. Does your signage help people make their way to the line they want? Do your customers know where to go once they’re actually in the right queue? Stanchions with post-top signs and sign banners can be the landmarks here.

Always use clear, consistent messages and icons to demonstrate where a checkout is, a service agent, or a seating area – this extra effort will instantly put your guests at ease and get them into the right queue where you can use more digital signage to your advantage. And remember, people in line are a captive audience. Instead of allowing their attention to turn to their watches, keep them busy with digital signage – in-line advertisements and promotions, how-to videos, you can even implement signage that contains QR codes allowing people to access more information about your business or offerings on their mobile device while they pass the time, and even after they’ve left the line.

3. Check Your Merchandising

If your business lends itself to merchandising, in-line merchandising can be just what you need to boost sales and satisfaction. Think through what methods work best for your typical customer. Impulse merchandising bowls can be a quick, easy addition to your line and can be attached to the top of a post, and even fitted onto a stanchion using a swing arm so you can display several bowls at once. It’s the little things that count, and people love a tiny little impulse buy before they reach the finish line.

Lightweight merchandising racks with shelves and hooks can accommodate a variety of in-line merchandising options in an unobtrusive way. And in-line tables give people an opportunity to fill out paperwork or stack up their purchases before they reach a service agent. While in-line merchandising options are endless, it’s also important not to overdo it.  Five-foot tall merchandising racks that make people feel “trapped” in a queue can quickly backfire. Merchandising on both sides of the line, from start to finish, can feel annoying and overbearing.  Find that balance.

4. Think through Electronic Queuing

If you’re using or considering an electronic queuing system to improve the efficiency of your line, it’s important to think through the details. As easy as it is to unpack the system, install the displays and start rolling, there are some things you can do to maximize the impact. Think about the placement of the displays. 

The digital displays are there for two reasons: To visually call forward the next person and to display information, advertising, or entertainment directed to the people waiting for service. Your displays should be placed for maximum viewing potential, and should especially be easily seen by the person “next in line.” Also think about media-only displays as a way to provide information to those first entering the queue or to market to customers throughout the space.  Station lights are another consideration.  Lights at each station can be set to “blink” when an agent is available. These lights facilitate an individual’s progress as they walk away from the queue (and the display) toward the service agent or cashier. Every business is not created equal and neither is every queue.

If you need a hand determining the optimum queuing strategy for your enterprise, contact Lavi’s queuing experts today.


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