The restaurant industry is unique in that customers spend a significant amount of time on-premises, as they eat, talk and relax. Other than takeaway, patrons choose the restaurant they eat at based on their choice of cuisine, the ambience on offer and the customer service. Part and parcel of this ambience and service delivery are wait times and queuing experience.
Hunger as an instinct tends to cloud others, impacting decision-making and behavior. And if the wait at your favorite restaurant is long, your stomach is grumbling and the perceived wait time seems too long to bear, irritability and frustration is bound to rise. These negatively impact the quality of service and hurt business profitability.
In the US, average restaurant wait times are 23 minutes. And it is estimated that by completely doing away with queues and waits, restaurants stand to benefit from an approximate 15% increase in revenue generated. With the difference of 20 odd minutes, your business will not only experience improved service quality but also operational efficiency and a wider loyal customer support base.
Covid19 and Restaurants – What Can We Expect?
The entertainment and retail industry took a debilitating hit when the pandemic shuttered businesses and bound customers to their homes. Digitization of operations became essential and home deliveries, online shopping and appointment scheduling services were on the rise.
Despite products and services being available, the experience of shopping in person, dining in person and enjoying retail therapy is still very much alive and valued! Customers enjoy visiting establishments to sit, relax, eat, enjoy and recuperate. And they can enjoy it all now, with the addition of queue management solutions that monitor visitor volumes, effectively direct them to service areas and maintain the contactless and safe quality of service that is now an industry norm.
Read our blog post on the impact of Covid19 on the entertainment industry.
Why Should Restaurants Care About Queue Management?
Some restaurants use queues to signal to potential customers that their food and service is in demand, more so than potential supply. It shows the success of your venture and the loyalty of the customer base that they are willing to wait any length of time to be served. They value the food and service that much.
1. Long service time leaves customers disappointed
Isn’t it frustrating to finally get hold of a table but wait for a server to take your order?
We cannot emphasize the importance of prompt table service enough. If customers are made to wait for prolonged periods, a chaotic environment affects their experience and they end up ordering fewer food items. Due to slow table service, accommodating new customers becomes difficult and you may lose out on customers.
2. Competitive edge in the food industry
In a world where services are judged for time and convenience, a restaurant’s efficient queue management strategies determine the customer’s experience. Customers will prefer your service over competitors if you manage queues, regulate customer flow and increase table turnover.
3. Improved Customer Compliance
The multitude of queue management software offers clear communication channels between customers and staff members at the restaurant. Keeping customers involved in the seating process and updating them on delays helps restaurants manage customer expectations. It improves order accuracy and reduces disagreements among customers and staff members.
4. Customer experience
Providing your customers with an unforgettable experience at the restaurant is based on transparency in queue management, customization and multiple service points. It comes with added benefits of higher volume orders and increased revenue.
5. Reduce staff burnout
Queue management software automates repetitive tasks staff members have to carry out. Updating queue status manually, checking in customers, reserving seats and dealing with difficult customers require integrity and patience. Chatbots and self-service kiosks are the new solutions to having an efficient team space that works effortlessly and promotes team works.
6. Build a family of loyal customers
Once you have implemented the above-discussed queueing strategies in your restaurant, maintain a consistent dining standard. When customers can join virtual queues, you make a hectic process easier. Working on customer feedback on queues and reaching out to them amends distrust and builds a close-knit family of loyal customers. Value your customer’s time and increase the pool of customers visiting your restaurant. Don’t forget, happy customers, promote your restaurant by word-of-mouth marketing!
What Factors Influence Customer Queuing Experiences?
Before setting off to fix and improve the queuing experience of your customers, it is essential to check the metrics that directly impact patron journey flows.
Some are detailed below:
Transparency of queuing information
When customers do not know how long the estimated wait will be, when their turn will arrive, how many people are ahead of them in the queue, and other related queries, their experience with your business is soured.
This lack of informational transparency makes perceived wait times seem longer than actual ones. The former has a greater impact on customer satisfaction than the latter.
Lack of engaging and informative signage
A sure way to reduce perceived wait times is to deploy digital signage that uses bright and engaging displays to inform, guide and entertain waiting customers.
Inform patrons of new offers and new additions to the menu, discounts, and promotions. Remind them of SOPs, occupancy limits, and social distancing guidelines.
Guide patrons around the premises, aiding them in queuing in the correct place, clearing up room for staff and visitor traffic movements. And once their turn arrives, guide them to their tables and places.
Uncomfortable waiting areas/environments
Your queues reach around the block, and your patrons are waiting in all sorts of weather conditions. Be it raining, hail, snow, scorching heat, etc.
They are waiting in-person, with no space to sit, or rest. And the longer the wait takes, the more exhausted and inconvenienced your patrons get.
Such waiting conditions affect the dining experience for your customers, and factor in on their decision to return. A decision that weighs the value of the dining experience and the food, with that of the wait. And it is unlikely that after such repeated lapses in standardized customer service will have a permanent impact.
How to Manage Long Queues in Restaurants?
Patrons express customer loyalty towards your business because they value your food and customer service standards. But if queues go unchecked, there is a real threat that loyalty will not be maintained. Patrons will prioritize their time over other factors and choose another establishment. And it is much harder to win back a disgruntled former customer than it is to onboard a new one!
Fear not, we have a few sure-shot solutions to guide you to queue-less and contactless customer service. Adopting a Restaurant queue management solution is the answer to your woes!
Use WhatsApp Marketing to send restaurant menus and advertise pre-ordering
WhatsApp has become the most used messaging application worldwide. As part of the restaurant industry, use this platform for marketing your restaurant’s menu. Since customers take a long time to decide on their order, adopt Wavetec’s WhatsApp Marketing to initiate a two-way conversation with your customers.
Share the restaurant’s menu to help them decide beforehand to provide timely service and reduce waiting. Use a dedicated WhatsApp number and build a preordering system for customers to place orders. This helps you serve your customers faster and build your brand’s image.
Use digital signage for entertainment in the waiting area
Customers waiting for a restaurant table will be annoyed with long queues and delayed wait times. It is recommended that you use Digital Signage to engage customers in wait areas. Wavetec offers multiple digital options, ranging from a media player to video walls. You can use the screens for recreational purposes and to deliver promotional offers and marketing content to keep the customers entertained. Digital signage can also be integrated with queue management software to display wait times.
Another key software restaurants can use to measure occupancy limits is Wavetec’s SafeQ People Counting Solutions. Install 3D counters in desired locations to measure the number of people entering and leaving the area. These can be the waiting area, dining room or restrooms. By collecting data on consumer behaviour and visiting patterns, you can modify your services during peak hours or adjust the food supply rate.
Use Self-Service Kiosks to Manage Restaurant Queues
In recent years, fast-food restaurants have opted for self-service technology that allows consumers to order independently and skip long queues at counters. With Wavetec’s Self-Service Kiosks, customers can read menus, customize orders and pay at the kiosks as it is integrated with a point of sale (POS) purchase system. Orders placed with self-service kiosks are accurate, reducing the chances of miscommunication with the staff.
McDonald’s was the first fast food chain to introduce self-service kiosks in the food industry and instantly saw a 6% growth in sales revenue the next year. Mcdonald’s self-ordering and self-checkout kiosks are touch displays like any other mobile phone to engage multiple customers simultaneously.
Customers have widely accepted these self-service kiosks because of the communicable user interface and accommodation of multiple languages. Since kiosks offer add-ons based on order history, McDonald’s saw a 20% increase in order size and a 30% increase in order value. With card payment options integrated into the kiosks, this has been a major step in regulating the queue length at the checkout counter. Staff could readjust their focus to assisting customers at the kiosks, improving service time and the customer experience.
Use Queue Management System to reduce the wait time in restaurants
Receptionists can engage customers and speed up check-out with the help of Wavetec’s extensive Queue Management System. These include software that organizes customer flow into a single, orderly queue. Mobile Queueing System, Enterprise Virtual Queue Management System, and Whatsapp Queuing Solution are major components useful to a restaurant. All of these take into account the fundamentals of customer queuing-organizing, measuring, and engaging.
Opting for WhatsApp Virtual Queuing lets your customers visiting the restaurant scan a QR code which redirects them to WhatsApp chat with your restaurant. After selecting the service, be it takeaway, pre-order or seating reservation, customers will receive a virtual ticket that reserves a spot in the queue. Since WhatsApp queueing can be linked to digital signage, customers receive constant updates on wait times, order preparation and queue status. This is an excellent solution to avoid crowded wait areas, which add to customers’ queuing anxiety.
Wavetec is a worldwide network of Electronic Queue Management Systems that organizes, interacts with consumers, and measures their wait times. If you want a solution that is suitable for the entire consumer journey with your restaurant, virtual queuing offers online reservations and ticketing with live updates. Customer flow is optimized and staff-client communication is enhanced with this queue management system in place.
Facilitate Reservation Scheduling, Virtual Check-In, and Queuing
Pre-arrival, patrons can book, reschedule and cancel reservations online, be it on their mobile application, website, SMS channel or via messaging applications. They can also customize their booking by selecting which branch to visit, adding notes on how they would like to be served and perhaps even pre-entering their meal choice so that it is fresh and ready upon their arrival.
Wavetec reservation booking software and hardware are reliable, user-friendly and seamlessly integrated to make the customer experience as smooth as possible.
Via the channel they chose to make the reservation, patrons can check-in and even remotely and virtually queue as they wait to be seated. Using a WhatsApp Queuing solution, they check-in, are issued an electronic ticket and sent regular queuing notifications regarding estimated wait times. They have the facility to wait wherever they please, completing an errand or two while they do. They also remain socially distanced, engaging in self service activities that afford them contactless service.
- Your business can prepare better with an estimated number for the foot traffic on any given day
- Customers feel valued and can plan their daily and weekly schedules better
- Crowds on-premises become smaller and queue lengths shorter – optimized restaurant queue management
- Customer satisfaction rises as there is the transparency of information and easily available self-service solutions
Open Channels for Communication and Patron Feedback
Customers usually have something to say after they have been served, be it negative or positive. They have had an experience and would like to provide feedback on it. And restaurant management will benefit greatly from the collection and analysis of this information.
After being served, the customer is asked to register their feedback via SMS, text messaging, website, mobile application or physical in-store screen. This will then be collected, stored and analyzed so that conclusions may be drawn as to what needs improvement and what needs continuity.
- Customers feel valued, and are therefore more loyal to the business
- Feedback is collected, and results in more data-driven decision and policy making
- Your establishment is always improving and evolving to accommodate and exceed patron expectations