4 Tips to Make Your Waiting Lines Hum Along

4 Tips to Make Your Waiting Lines Hum Along

Last updated: December 20, 2018Perry Kuklin

When a business is humming along, it’s like a well-oiled machine, running smoothly just as you expect. When it’s not, managers and staff can find themselves in fire drill mode, dealing with unhappy customers, inefficient processes, and profit loss. For many businesses, one of the most noticeable places to recognize your operations are out of whack, not humming along smoothly, is the waiting line. It’s remarkable how this one area of a business can have such a dramatic impact on everything from staff productivity and satisfaction to customer satisfaction and long-term profits.

So, how can you optimize your waiting lines for more hum, less humdrum? Here are four tips:

1. Build your operational efficiencies

Queue management is an exercise in operational efficiency. How long are customers waiting in line? How long does it take to serve each customer? What do your traffic trends look like? These are just a few metrics you can use to help increase the efficiency of your queues. With these metrics at hand, you can better predict customer flow, optimize staffing decisions, and keep wait times within acceptable limits. Depending on what you find, you can look to technology to increase customer throughput, boost staff efficiency, disperse waiting crowds, and address issues in real-time.  

Consider this: A full 87% of customers reported they would adopt queuing technology if it reduced the amount of time they spent waiting in line. More than that, 67% shared they would be willing to download an app or use a virtual queue to reserve their place in line.

2. Enrich the customer experience

The waiting line is more than just a means to an end. It’s a place where impressions are formed and customers are won and lost. Recent research found that nearly half of all customers will actively avoid a retailer or brand in the future if their wait time exceeded five minutes.

But the customer experience is measured by more than just time on the clock. It requires looking at the customer experience from both the reality of the wait and the perception of the wait. There are some tried and true psychological factors that drive customer perception, including keeping their time occupied, getting them started sooner, reducing their anxiety, making wait times known, explaining why the wait time is what it is, and making sure the wait is fair.

3. Create a seamless customer journey

A customer’s journey from the start of your waiting line to the end should be a seamless one. From finding the correct queue and locating the entrance, to locating the next available agent or cashier and everything in between. While this might seem like a basic concept, it’s surprising how many mistakes we see businesses make when it comes to the customer journey through the queue. Here are just a few of the more common mistakes:

  • No clear cue to the queue: Where is the waiting line? Signage and belted stanchions are a simple yet effective way to mark the entrance to the queue.
  • No short cut: Your waiting line should be able to expand and contract based on the number of people waiting in line. This can be accomplished with retractable belt stanchions that cut off a portion of the queue during less busy times and open up the full queue during busy times.
  • Fairness is not automatic: When customers have to jockey for the shortest line or stand in haphazard fashion hoping they’ll be served in a first-come-first-served order, the journey is anything but seamless. Use a single line queue or virtual queuing technology to establish fairness and order.

4. Leverage attention to increase your bottom line

One key aspect of a queue that “hums” is one that adds to the bottom line of your business. When customers are standing in line, you have a chance to capture their attention and use it to benefit your business and your customers. How? In-queue merchandising offers customers both a distraction to the angst of waiting and an opportunity to fill their baskets with some last-minute purchases. Win-win.

Is your waiting line working hard enough to support your business goals? If you could use an update or some ideas to improve, we invite you to request a conversation with a Lavi Industries’ consultant.


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