Many argue that queue management is the process of managing a customer's waiting time. On a high-level, I agree with that statement. However, in this article, I seek to define the essence of what queue management is all about.
Queue management is an integral part of improving the customer experience. The ones who succeed will reduce costs, increase sales and enhance brand reputation. To understand what queue management is, it's essential first to define what waiting is.
What is waiting?
Waiting is the time from when the customer first decides to get something until they have it.
Nevertheless, from the customer's perspective, there is also a perceived time between the missing and the taking. If you intend to improve the customer experience, I firmly believe the customer's perception is the most critical aspect to consider.
Therefore, when you put waiting into a business context, I reformulate the above definition of what waiting is, to:
Waiting is the customer’s experience between the moment they first decide to get something until they have it.
What is queue management?
Based on the above definition of waiting, my definition of queue management is:
The process of managing a customer’s waiting experience.
How to reduce the waiting time?
Queue management is not about trying to eliminate waiting times. Any company that strives to offer instant service will incur substantial costs — having too many employees on hand.
Queue management is all about improving the customer's waiting experience. Achieving this contributes to flexibility in the staffing model, which in turn provides efficient and cost-effective customer service.
Therefore, if you intend to improve the customers waiting experience, you should not start asking "how to reduce waiting time?", but rather "how to improve the waiting experience?".
How to improve the waiting experience?
If the customer’s perceived waiting time feels shorter than the actual time, the customers are more likely to walk away satisfied. There are many things a company can do to improve the waiting experience. Below, I have listed three improvements that I think every service provider should consider.
Provide an active waiting experience
The most extended wait is the one you cannot control. Therefore, you want to create an active waiting experience. This can be done by installing media solutions in the waiting area, to engage and entertain the customer.
Keep the customer informed
By keeping the customer informed, you'll remove the mystery and worry from the wait. Use monitors to provide your customer information, such as where to go, where to wait and waiting times.
Achieve an optimal waiting time
As already mentioned, there is no reason to strive for instant service. When customers spend time waiting, they are more likely to explore your offering. You should aim for an optimal waiting time, as it will both enhance the customer experience and increase sales.
Queue management systems
Do remember that queuing is one part of the customer's entire journey. To improve the overall customer experience, you'll need to enhance the experience at each point of contact.
To do that, most companies use a queue management system, where the more complex solutions are also known as customer journey management systems. A queue management system is a software with a set of tools that helps your business to monitor, plan, and manage your customer's entire visit from pre-arrival to post serving.
If you want to learn more about queue management systems and how they can improve customer experience and organizational efficiency, I recommend you to download the presentation below.