Studies have widely demonstrated the negative effect of waiting time on customer satisfaction. The longer the wait, the less satisfied the customer. The issue is, cutting wait time is not always as easy as it sounds. Many factors that influence wait times are out of the direct control of the business manager.
That said, we have found a handful of easy and affordable ways to directly cut wait times in just about any service queue:
The single easiest and most affordable way to cut wait times in many situations, is to switch from a multi-server multi-line queue (as seen in a typical grocery store) to a single line queue. Having a single serpentine line feeding into multiple servers has an immediate impact on wait times by eliminating the wide variation in wait times that can occur from one line to another. The person who arrived first is always served next and a slow transaction at one service station doesn’t hold up everyone in line.
An often-underestimated impact on wait times is the delay between a service agent or cashier becoming available and a customer actually approaching the open station. Think about a long line of service stations at an airport or bank where the person at the head of the line is perhaps distracted or looking the opposite way of the open service station. How many times have you stood at the back of such a line annoyed at the fact that the person in the front is standing there while the open agent is hollering “next customer!”.
A simple solution involves an easy-to-install automated call forward system that can monitor both the head of the waiting line and each service station to identify when a customer is waiting and when a station becomes available. The system can send a signal to alert the customer via audio and visual cues. It can even trigger a light to turn on at the open station to guide the customer to the appropriate agent.
The bottom line to managing wait times is matching up your service level with the demand of customers. As more customers enter the line, you need to be able to serve them efficiently. One of those areas that many businesses feel is out of their control is being able to predict how quickly or slowly a queue will fill up. When you can actively monitor the arrival of customers and the service rate of your staff, you can actively manage wait times by opening more service stations or otherwise adjusting your service rates to keep wait times in check. Easy and affordable footfall analytics solutions exist to make this activity possible for businesses of all shapes and sizes.
An extremely easy and often-overlooked solution to cutting wait times is actually starting the service process sooner, while customers would otherwise still be waiting in line. Examples of this include gathering basic customer information at check in, placing a service representative in the queue to begin taking orders, or providing paperwork and in-line tables so customers can complete paperwork before they hit the front of the line.
The device your customers carry in their hands can provide another easy and affordable answer to the waiting line issue. A mobile queuing solution might be just what you need to manage wait times. From luxury retailers and automobile dealerships to higher education and restaurants, the applications for mobile queuing are far-reaching. Customers can reserve their place in line before arriving at your location or they can set an appointment to bypass the line all together. Look for a pre-built solution that can be customized to your business and your brand.
In a world where immediate gratification seems the norm, managing your wait times matters more than ever. Are you doing all you can to keep wait times from hurting your customer satisfaction?