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How to Reduce Waiting Time in Queues [Avoid Long Waiting Lines]

Waiting in line is part and parcel of most customer experiences. On some level, queues are inescapable even, as consumer demand will always be higher than the number of counters and service providers available.

Trouble emerges when cases of good customer experience outweigh the number of dissatisfied customers with complaints. Since the key aspect in customer service is the customer’s experience, it is essential to take steps to avoid stressed consumers from defecting to competitors. Most businesses ask, how can we reduce queuing wait times?

To help with this, the following blog explains and solves the waiting line problems discussed above.

Benefits of Managing Queues and Reducing Wait Times

Improved staff efficiency

Customers waiting in long queues are generally irritated and frustrated, which leads to disagreements with staff employees. Consequently, employees get overwhelmed and demotivated, decreasing productivity and morale.

Deploying a queue management system and reducing wait times creates a more pleasant environment that improves worker productivity and morale by releasing stress. This allows the staff to focus on work other than line management, improving performance. Happy customers result in positive outlooks and efficient staff members.

Repurpose space which reduces operational costs

Mismanaged queues result in overcrowding, because of which businesses cannot utilize the space for other purposes—installing a queueing system that regulates the number of customers visiting the facility and keeps occupancy in check. This ensures that you provide a pleasant experience to your customers.

This is beneficial in converting the waiting area to provide customers with a comfortable lounge separate from the main queue to relax. The area can also be used to display products, and carry out demonstrations as a conference or storage area. In the case of restaurants, it can be made into an additional seating arrangement to accommodate more customers.

Customer categorization for personalized assistance

Managing queues allows you to categorize customers in a simplified manner. With queue management, you can group customers based on their needs, payment preferences, purchasing behaviour and demographics.

This data allows the marketing team to engage in targeted customer marketing with offers of interest. Additionally, the customer service team can offer personalized assistance to the customers. Your business can provide customers with self-service options, such as online help or chatbots, based on the type of service a consumer prefers. This way, customer representatives and staff members can dedicate support to complex matters.

Boosts customer satisfaction

Customers leave positive feedback if your company provides quick service and shorter queuing time. This is because it gives them the opportunity to allocate time to run errands and reduces queueing anxiety. A stress-free environment is conducive to overall improved customer satisfaction.

Builds a loyal customer base

Putting your customers at the center of the business model and taking measures to decrease wait time improves the image of your business amongst customers. When customers are made to feel that their time is valued, they are more likely to respect your business and frequently return for a similar service. This is crucial in building a loyal consumer family, which boosts retention rates.

Gives competitive advantage

Customers are attracted to shorter wait times. A company that regulates crowd control by offering multiple queueing and service options will always be preferred over its competitors in the industry. Returning customers is a measure of profitability, which will put you ahead of your competitors in the market.

What are the Different Kinds of Waiting Queues?

Single-Counter Queues

These are seen in stores and branches where a single counter serves all customers and the queue formed is a singular winding, snake-like affair.

This system requires floor space and journey flow planning. It admits customers on the basis of first-come first-serve.

Multiple-Counter Queues

These are seen in stores and branches where there are multiple counters serving customers, resulting in many parallel queues to choose from.

Both of the above queues take about the same amount of time to reach the front of, with parallel queues having larger variance as a customer can be served faster or slower than anticipated.

Single-Line, Multiple Server Queues

This is a hybrid of the above types of queues, beginning with the customer joining a single queue. As their turn arrives, the queue will split into multiple different counters which the customer can approach to be served.

What are the Factors Influencing People’s Experiences of Waiting in Line?

Ideation of Fairness

If I have fewer items than you but you are ahead of me in the queue, I may think this is unfair as I would take a shorter time to be served. What seems fair to us is a relative judgement based on the value we ascribe to our time and the products and services we are purchasing.

Breaking or skipping the queue is seen as unfair to those who are waiting in line for their turn.

Management of Expectations

Customers expect to be served efficiently and quickly. Their personal estimates of how long the wait may be, how many more tasks they hope to accomplish that day, or whether they have appointments to rush to, all impact their expectations.

The perceived value of the service or product they are queuing for also has an impact on their patience for longer queues – the higher the value, the longer they are willing to queue.

Perception of Wait Times

Depending on what your day looks like, what other tasks you have to complete and how much time you have allotted the task you are queuing for, your perception of wait time varies. This is different from the time actually spent waiting – it is how long you think or feel like you have been waiting for.

There are several factors that can increase or decrease this.

What are the Impacts of Long Queues and Waits?

Higher Customer Turn-Away Rate

Customers will be lost to competitors who have shorter and better managed queues. This will result in lower revenue and profits for the business as well as a dwindling customer base.

Loss of Brand Image and Equity

Word of mouth is the best marketing and advertisement that any business could hope for. Once customers experience poor service, they are likely to inform and warn others. Similarly faster service delivery than others in the industry could mean an improved image of your brand, ensuring increased customer volumes.

How can the Customer Experience of Waiting in Line be Improved and Optimized?

The shortest answer is to deploy a holistic queue management system. This queue management system will integrate all aspects of the customer experience to reduce waiting time and improve service delivery. The more detailed response is as follows:

1. Virtual Queuing

To queue virtually is to do so from the comfort of your home or space, contactlessly and remotely. Clients will either already have an appointment booked or will scan a QR code or follow directions on a mobile app or website to be issued a ticket by the queue management system.

Once their virtual place in the queue is secured, they will begin receiving regular notifications about their position in the queue, how much longer their wait is and other information regarding where they must arrive, with what materials, etc.

Without the need to be physically present in the line, customers can utilize their time more efficiently and skip the queue entirely. Crowds will disperse from outside your store and customer satisfaction numbers will soar.

Wavetec’s Virtual Queue Management solutions are designed to support the modern client of a digitized business. These include our innovative WhatsApp Queuing software that supports simple and swift digital onboarding, queuing and feedback registration.

2. People Counting

Precisely measuring the number of people that enter and exit your store gives you an idea about the occupancy limit. Wavetec’s SafeQ, a people counting system, uses sensors and cameras with central software to integrate real-time consumer traffic pattern insights.

Companies can use this tool for predictive queue management in peak hours and to create reports on the foot traffic that will help them redesign the store’s layout. This can be customized and integrated with digital signage and virtual queueing systems to display occupancy and wait times.

3. Appointment Scheduling and Booking Software

Pre Scheduling appointments prior to arrival on-premises, is a sure way to reduce queuing crowds. Customers visit the website or business application and select the branch, service and time suitable for them. Once they are booked, they will receive regular notifications via SMS, email or application about their appointment details.

This allows them to arrive at the time allotted for them, skip the queue using priority queuing, be served and sent on their way. The result is streamlined waits, predicted flows and reduced wait times.

Wavetec’s Appointment scheduling and booking software is custom-built for your business needs to help anticipate branch traffic, and prepare for it.

To book an appointment, customers can visit the website or the mobile application and choose the nearest branch and the available time slots. They can also select the service and the person they want an appointment with. After this, customers receive a confirmation message with the appointment details. This collects customers’ personal information, sends reminder notifications and reduces no-shows.

4. WhatsApp Solutions

With WhatsApp becoming the most used messaging application, Wavetec recommends you make this the hub of virtual business. For queue management, Wavetec offers WhatsApp Solutions, comprising WhatsApp Queuing and WhatsApp Appointments.

WhatsApp appointments are similar to Online Appointment Management, except that customers initiate booking by sending a message to the company’s number or scanning a QR code. An automated chatbot confirms the appointment and gives a unique ticket number. Customers can reschedule or cancel appointments conveniently and keep your company in the loop.

WhatsApp Queuing has revolutionized queuing by introducing a ticketless virtual solution. Customers can scan QR codes or message on WhatsApp to receive a virtual ticket and reserve their spot. You can improve the customer experience by providing real-time updates on the queue status, so customers only visit when it is their turn.

5. Self Service Kiosks

Wavetec’s Self Service Kiosk provides customers with a solution that they can operate independently without interacting with a staff member. Tasks such as POS purchase, check-in, ticket printing, and appointment booking have long queues and wait times, which frustrates customers. Offering contactless solutions manages customer visits and gives immediate delivery to clients. These kiosks are useful to any industry, whether retail, healthcare, banking or telecommunications.

6. Data-Driven Predictive Planning

Using Wavetec’s Spectra dashboards and reporting software and hardware solution, businesses can reduce crowds, queue lengths and waiting times by collecting queuing data, analyzing it and generating reports.

These will facilitate better and more informed decision making, leading to improved management practices, service delivery and higher customer satisfaction.

Another aspect of planning is collecting and acting on customer feedback. These allow businesses to know exactly what their customers think and want. With their finger firmly on the pulse of client interest, businesses can not go wrong.

7. Priority Queuing and Calling

Customers can be divided according to the business they provide or the benefits they are entitled to, for example appointment holders, VIPs, those holding loyalty cards or even those with fewer items in their cart.

This allows them to queue with priority, be served quickly and effectively, as in accordance with their special or privileged needs. The result is more optimized service delivery, shorter queues using categorization and increased consumer satisfaction with personalization.

8. Digital Signage Distractions and Managed Customer Expectations

Customers appreciate transparency and being kept in the loop regarding waiting times. This will help better inform their perception of the wait, and remove the uncertainty and stress from the process.

The goal is to transform passive waiting into active waiting. The inactivity frustrates consumers who would prefer to be kept engaged and entertained while they wait. To entertain customers waiting in line, digital signage solutions can be deployed. These will:

  • Advertise and market new promotions, discounts and product ranges – creating more cross- and up-selling opportunities
  • Provide real-time updates and notifications about queuing information and statistics, like estimated wait times and the ticket number currently being served
  • Disseminate information about Covid19, SOPs and operational timings
  • Guide customers through the store to service areas, thereby freeing up staff and increasing efficiency

The result will be better informed, guided and satisfied consumers, with more accurate perceptions of waiting times.

What causes long queues?

1. Slow service or processing times

Staff shortages, technological issues, or complicated procedures contribute to slow service times. Long wait times for services can make customers unhappy, which might result in them leaving or making others in line wait longer.

2. High customer volume

Businesses may encounter a situation where the number of consumers exceeds their ability to serve them at busy times, during holidays, special events or during the sale season. Customers may end up waiting longer as a result.

3. Limited capacity or resources

Long lines could arise due to a lack of resources or capacity limitations. For instance, having fewer check-out counters or service points can lead to longer lines, especially during busy times. Longer wait times also result from a lack of employees or equipment to accommodate the volume of customers.

4. Inefficient queue management systems

Long lines may result from ineffective queue management strategies, such as a lack of employees or signage and not using technology to optimize customer flow. These lead to confusion among consumers, which further lengthens wait times.

5. Consumer Behaviour

Businesses that follow a first-come-first-serve model face delays if customers are indecisive or if they do not show up on time for appointments. Non-compliant customers who do not cooperate with staff members cause an unpleasant environment for other customers in the queue.


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