Perhaps no situation better portrays the challenges and frustrations of customers queuing than the stereotypical airport security line. Likewise, no situation better exemplifies the need for businesses to reduce stress and frustration among customers and employees alike, especially when it comes to queuing.
Dan Ronan, TSA Federal Security Director at Miami International Airport recently remarked, “Airports in the future must be about moving passengers from reservation to destination, through an almost invisible yet integrated ecosystem of distributed security, with less stress and frustration for both passengers and the officers who screen them.”
Ronan’s quote can just as easily apply, in varying degrees, to businesses across a wide range of sectors. Look at entertainment venues such as amusement parks, movie theaters, stadiums and arenas, and other places which attract large crowds of people. You can even imagine how Ronan’s vision of the future might apply to retail stores, banks, grocery stores, and other places where the customer experience relies on having a smooth and efficient journey through the checkout or service queue.
Now is the perfect time to think about a shared vision for customer queuing in 2018.
Our vision would involve a queuing system that:
Bringing this vision to life is possible with the right combination of smart queuing technology, equipment, and approaches that are applied to specific types of queues in specific ways. Virtual queuing can be used to eliminate the physical waiting line in environments where long, unpredictable waits are common. Automated call forward queuing can be used to facilitate queuing at self-service kiosks. Mobile queuing can be used for high-touch transactions where personalized customer service is required. Electronic queuing can be helpful when there are a large number of cash registers or service stations. The examples go on and on but the point is to match the queuing solutions to the queue, not the other way around.
This new vision of queuing requires businesses to let down their defenses a bit when it comes to openly sharing information with customers about the length of the wait, why a wait is taking longer than expected, and how soon they’ll be served. It also requires businesses to start empowering associates with information and tools they need to be productive and provide more personalized service. Just as important is giving customers and associates the power to take action based on the information you deliver. Giving customers the ability to pre-schedule an appointment, request more time if they’ve been waiting in a mobile queue, find a faster line somewhere else in the venue… Giving employees the power to open a new register, guide a customer to a faster queue, place a VIP customer ahead in a virtual queue… These are just a few ideas.
Analyze and respond.
Achieving this new vision of queue management requires managers to have access to real-time and historical information about their queues. When wait times fall out of acceptable range there should be a mechanism in place to address the issue quickly. Predictive data should allow managers to better plan for ebbs and flows on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. As mentioned, employees should also have insight to help them better manage issues that directly impact the customer experience.
Cover the basics.
Security, crowd control, customer flow, queue formation, and the equipment and resources needed to achieve these basics have to remain part of this new vision for queuing. Without a strong foundation, the rest falls short.
As we look ahead to what 2018 will bring, we hope you’ll consider the important role of queue management. Customers in line present a captive source of revenue and loyalty. Make their experience worth coming back for.