7 Benefits of Using an Online Queue Management System

Long queue waiting in grocery store

Consider a scenario where you visit an office for essential services. You get into the waiting room, and it’s packed… some of the people waiting don’t even have a place to sit. For argument’s sake, let’s assume that you expected a long queue. However, something you didn’t account for was the confusion that would come with the poor queue line management you’re experiencing. You have no idea which queue you should be in, your place in the line, or even whether the queue is moving. Frustrating, right? That feeling of frustration is what you risk putting your customers through when they come to your office and you don’t have an online queue system in place.

Nobody likes to wait in line. In fact, customers would rather leave your premises rather than wait in a long line because it feels like a waste of time. Studies show that over 70% of customers prefer abandoning their purchase if they have to queue for over 5 minutes. If your business doesn’t have a queueing system in place, you are missing an opportunity to provide your customers with great service. Check out the QLess essential guide to queuing systems below.

What Is Queue Management?

Long queue waiting for service at an airport ticketing kiosk

Long queues often mean that the demand for a service has surpassed its supply. For instance, if the queue is in a hospital, then the supply of doctors is less than the number of patients that require medical attention. Online queue management technology provides businesses with the tools to regularly monitor rate arrival, number of customers waiting, shorten wait times, and provide customers with significantly improved experiences.

There are 4 main types of queues:

  1. Structured queues: they are orderly, and people stand in a predictable position. These types of queues are most common in airport security and supermarket checkouts.
  2. Unstructured queues: they’re usually unpredictable, and people stand in different directions and positions. 
  3. Mobile queue: this is where people queue using their mobile phones by booking appointments through a queue line management app and only physically checking in at the service center when they are due to be served. 
  4. Kiosk-based queues: this is where customers fill in their details in a self-serving kiosk and why they have visited the business. These queues are common in medical facilities and banks.

Irrespective of the queues you implement in your business, online queue management is important because it controls physical lines and minimizes the customers’ waiting period. The best part is that it not only reduces their perceived wait time – but their actual wait time as well.What most businesses don’t realize is that the customers’ perceived wait time is even more important than the actual waiting time. This is because people tend to feel as though they’ve been waiting for longer than they actually have. For instance, if a customer encounters a long line, even if it moves fast, if the waiting area is disorganized or crowded, they’ll automatically assume that the waiting period will be long. Some will end up leaving, and those that can’t just end up feeling annoyed and frustrated.

What Is an Online Queue Management System?

An online queue management system is a technological solution that streamlines the customers’ queueing experience and controls the flow of people in your service facility or business. It ensures that you serve the customers in the right order and efficiently, ultimately enhancing their customer experience. A queue line management app also manages the waiting experience of your customers throughout all the touchpoints with your business, from preservice up to after service. It can either be in the form of hardware or software, but its main purpose is to facilitate your customers’ ease of access to your services. Think of it as a CRM extension. 

Depending on the nature of your business, the queue may be the first interaction a customer has with your organization. Studies show that customers are 49% likely to make impulse purchases if their experience is personalized. By ensuring their wait time is managed, you ultimately optimize their customer experience.

How Does a Queue Management System Work?

Group of people window shopping a storefront window from the sidewalk outside

According to the queueing theory, there are 4 essential components of queue line management:

Customer Population

This refers to the number of people that visit your premises to receive your services. They can either be limited or unlimited. When you’re dealing with a limited population, you already know the definite number of people you’re expecting to service. A good example would be people waiting to board a plane. Unlimited population, on the other hand, means that you can serve as many people as show up in your business. This is the most common type of population and is often characterized by random walk-ins. An effective queue line management system creates an efficient way of serving customers based on the type of population you normally serve. 

Service Mechanism

Service mechanisms assess the resources you need to uphold the highest standards of service provision. Some of the factors that are considered in this element include: 

  • The number of employees you have readily available to assist customers.
  • The average wait time for each customer.
  • The number of queues.

These elements are critical as they help you to develop as it helps you determine your service patterns. 

Method of Arrival

This component performs a frequent analysis of the way customers visit your business. For instance, do they arrive in groups or individually? It also considers the average hourly distribution of the customers and the time interval between each arrival, making it easy to analyze arrival patterns. 

Queue Characteristics

On average, each shopping trip involves over 20 minutes of total queueing time. This is a lot of time! You can, however, reduce this by defining your customers’ behavior and order of servicing/queue discipline. 

There are 4  main types of queue line management discipline:

  • Priority selection — this is where customers are served based on how urgently they need your services. For instance, in a hospital setting, patients with serious injuries are attended to first.
  • Service in random order (SIRO) — under this order of servicing, customers are selected randomly.
  • Last in, first-out (LIFO) — the customers that came to your business last are served first.
  • First in, first-out (FIFO) — customers are served on a first-come-first-serve basis. 

Customer behavior, on the other hand, is all about how customers act when joining a queue. For instance, a customer could leave without joining a queue if they think they’ll wait for long without being served. Keep in mind that customers tend to overestimate their wait time by about 36%. They could also join a queue but still leave without receiving your services if they feel as though they’ve waited enough. 

A line queue management system combines the above 4 elements to manage the wait time of customers in your business and ultimately enrich their experience. You should note that the system won’t completely eliminate customer queues and waiting times. It does, however, manage their waiting experience, which is critical to great customer service.

How to Implement an Online Queue Management System 

Implement an online queue system to reduce the length of your lines

During the implementation phase, your preferred online queue management system supplier will set up the system. We, however, recommend that you first tick the following boxes before implementation:

Identify Your Unique Business Needs

Each organization has unique reasons for adopting an online queue management system and will require an initial goal analysis before implementing a queue line management system. For instance, a government office may require a queuing system to reduce the number of people in the lobby and only ensure people show up whether they’re supposed to be served to reduce congestion. 

Steve Jobs once highlighted that the secret to success is starting with the customer and then working backward to create a technology that works. Start by identifying your organizational needs, and then let your online queue management system supplier know. This will help them design a customized solution that fulfills your business needs. Make sure you go through all the customer touchpoints, as this will help you detect any inefficiencies in the customer journey. 

Set the Main Objectives of the Queue Line Management System

What exactly do you hope to achieve with a queue management system? Your goal could be to reduce foot traffic, streamline customer service, or even manage customers’ average wait time. Long lines are a source of anger & frustration among customers, and in fact, around 19% of them have gotten into arguments while queueing. Have a sit down with the Queuing System supplier and make your expectations and objectives clear. This will help them configure a solution that meets them.

Test the System Before You Roll It Out

Implementing an online queue management system without testing it first is a recipe for disaster. What if there’s a glitch with the system? What if, instead of reducing the waiting time, the system does the exact opposite? Test it before you launch it! This will give you time to determine whether the solution can fulfill your needs and perform its intended purpose. The testing period will also equip your employees with the right skill sets to manage the system. 

Evaluate It and Refine

This is the final step before the implementation phase. Identify any inconsistencies and inefficiencies and ask your supplier to fix them. 

By the time you roll out the queue line management system, it should be near perfect. This means that the glitches should be minimal, your staff knows their way around it, and it’s effectively performing the intended purpose.  

Which Industries Could Benefit the Most From an Online Queue Management System?

Virtual queues are becoming popular, and it’s not hard to see why: nobody likes waiting in line. Here are the top industries that could use a QMS.

Retailers

An online queue system can help retail shoppers have a better experience

More than 75% of shoppers agree that the worst part of their in-store shopping experience is having to queue in line so that they can pay for their products. As a retailer, you already know how stiff the competition is in your industry and how customer experiences impact your bottom line. If your customer has to wait for over 4 hours to be served, then you’re making it easy for them to choose your competitors. An online queue management system keeps your store orderly and, most importantly, enhances customer experiences. This ultimately turns your store visitors into loyal customers.

Government and Public Service Providers

Government institutions have gained a reputation for long wait times and frustrating experiences. This is because of poor queue line management, which is usually overwhelming for both the agents and citizens. There are also multiple touchpoints throughout the arrival process and a lot of procedural steps to follow that without an effective system in place, operational efficiency will never be achieved. While the waiting lines are unavoidable, a queuing system can help manage citizen wait time which ultimately results in minimal queueing. 

The main benefits of an online queue management system for government offices include:

  • Efficiency across all touchpoints.
  • Ability to fill in citizen details before being served to eliminate queues in some counters.
  • Gives citizens an estimate of their waiting time based on how many people are ahead of them in the queue.
  • Allows citizens to monitor their turn from anywhere, reducing foot traffic and congestion. 
  • Enhances agents’ efficiency.

Restaurants

Restaurants can benefit greatly from an online queue system

The average wait time in restaurants is 23 minutes. While restaurants aren’t always busy, rush hours can put an immense strain on staff and resources. There are many hungry and impatient customers waiting for their food who also expect excellent customer service. During this period, waiting is unavoidable, and without an effective system in place, you’ll end up with annoyed, hungry, and frustrated customers. 

It goes without saying that customer service is critical in the restaurant industry. Before people visit your premises, they first look at your online reviews. What do you think would happen if most of the previous customers are complaining about long service times? It won’t matter that your food is delicious! 

An online queue system can help you provide exceptional services to your customers by ensuring the staff are focused on delivering satisfying experiences instead of having to deal with long line queue management. These systems can increase staff efficiency with options for real-time monitoring of guests – allowing your team to provide an enhanced customer experience. You can also use the system to keep track of important guest data, including special requests and personal information that can help you offer more satisfying experiences. Most importantly, you’re able to screen for and identify key patterns in your restaurants, such as the most ordered meals and the busiest days and hours. 

Hospitals and Healthcare Facilities

Did you know that an Emergency Department patient has to wait for more than 1.5 hours before they can be taken to their room? Considering the critical role that healthcare facilities play, waiting times in these institutions must be addressed. Even before the beginning of COVID-19, hospitals were always packed, and the waits were unbearable. After COVID-19, they became worse.

The truth is that managing long, endless queues can be overwhelming, more so when multiple services are being offered. This is where queue management comes into play.  Healthcare facilities can use queue line management to:

  • Move customers through the touchpoints with ease. For instance, a customer can rapidly move through the arrival process to registration, admittance, imaging, bloodwork, etc., without having to physically queue for all these services. 
  • Give doctors, nurses, and staff access to patient data such as their basic information, medical history, blood pressure, gender, age, and the doctor that they’d like to treat them. This enhances operational efficiency by digitizing some of the processes that take time. 
  • Allow customers to wait for their turn and monitor their queue number from anywhere. This could be at the cafeteria, the waiting area, or even in the comfort of their vehicle, ultimately reducing congestion. 
  • Give patients information on their estimated wait time, the number of patients ahead of them, and information on their doctor’s schedule. 

If you go for a virtual queuing system that’s integrated with an online appointment booking system, patients can easily book their appointments ahead of time. 

Educational Institutions 

New graduates throwing their caps up in celebration in front of a large stone building with windows

Educational institutions, especially universities and colleges, are prone to long queues at the administration building. It’s like the central nervous system of the school, and students often go there for several reasons, including class registration, replacement of misplaced IDs, tuition payments, advisory services and more. A strong queue line management system can help the staff anticipate crowds and prioritize visitors based on the required service.  

Banks and Financial Institutions

When it comes to long single server queues, financial institutions rank as high as healthcare facilities. There’s always a long wait time, even when some service counters don’t seem to be serving anyone. If you work at a bank, then you should know that your customers want to feel appreciated. They need to know that their time is valued, and a queue line management system can help you achieve this. 

It gives customers the freedom to access your services in the mode that they’re most comfortable with. For instance, some people prefer coming down to the bank while others appreciate virtual queues and ticketing kiosks. A queuing system also offers customers a digitized experience that guarantees high levels of convenience. For example, they can fill out electronic forms before they get to the service desk. This way, when it’s their turn to be served, they’ll have already filled out all their details, speeding up the process. 

Bank employees can use online queue management systems to group customers during the arrival process and put them in different queues based on their priority. They can also use it to match customers with an agent that can help them based on their specific needs.

What Are the Top Benefits of Implementing an Online Queue Management System?

While line queue management systems are mostly used to reduce long lines, they can do so much more. Here are the key benefits your business will enjoy by adopting a digital queuing system.

Reduce Customer Wait and Service Times

This is the primary benefit of virtual queuing systems. Customers don’t like waiting in slow-moving lines without an idea of when they’ll be served. In fact, a recent survey highlighted that over 70% of customers agree that organizations should value customers’ time. This is why they are more likely to become repeat customers in businesses that offer speedy but quality services. 

Digital queuing solutions like QLess helps you manage lines by creating efficient queuing practices and shortening queue lengths, which ultimately reduces the number of walkaways. Your customers can join a queue virtually on their phone, computer, voice message, or on-site self-service kiosk. This gives them the flexibility to check into a queue from anywhere and when it’s convenient for them. Still not convinced? Well, online queue management systems can shorten wait time at your premises by a whopping 97%!

Reduces Customer Complaints

According to a Walker study, customers consider positive experiences as one of the key brand differentiators and rank them higher than prices, product quality, and service quality. If customers perceive their time is being wasted in your queuing experience, you can expect to receive complaints.

Waiting for a significant period of time before being serviced can trigger protests, which affects your customer satisfaction rates. What happens when you’re so busy that decreasing service times isn’t possible? Well, with QLess digital queuing system, you can manage customer expectations by giving them a realistic estimate of the expected waiting time. This reduces the perceived wait time, and when customers feel as though they aren’t waiting for long, they become more patient. 

Helps you Manage Virtual Wait Rooms

Virtual digital management systems give your clients the freedom to access your services virtually without having to check into a physical line. In some instances, it eliminates the physical queueing completely! Since customers can wait for their turn from anywhere, they don’t have to show up at your premises until it’s almost their turn. This then frees up space in your waiting area, eliminating congestion and unnecessary interruptions to your staff. 

The best part is that you can easily manage scheduled appointments and even on-site walk-ins. With QLess digital queue management system, you’re able to access all queues through the dashboard. This allows you to manage the available staff resources effectively and provide high-quality service to your customers. 

Improves Your Business Image

There’s something irresistible about a business that values its customers’ time. It radiates a “feel good” vibe that improves customer experiences and makes them become loyal. If your business uses a queuing system, you’ll effectively reduce wait times; your customers will be satisfied with your services and then leave positive feedback. They’ll also assume that you’re innovative & technologically advanced, care about their needs, and respect their time. All these things combined result in a positive brand image. 

A proper line queue management strategy also helps you create and implement ways to meet your customer’s needs. You’re able to access information such as customer surveys and on-site data, both of which give you a holistic view into what your customers really need and the best way to serve them. 

Enhances Staff Productivity and Satisfaction

Long queues are not only frustrating for your customers but your employees as well. When there are too many people and long lines, your staff will feel compelled to conduct traffic management by either creating physical barriers or ensuring people stay in line. They may also spend a significant chunk of their time taking telephone calls, helping customers fill in the paperwork, or ensuring they have the correct document before servicing them. Not to mention the frustrated customers that they have to calm down. It can be overwhelming!

Your employees are human, and if they’re constantly dealing with angry customers, their passion will simply fade away. If you, however, adopt digital queuing systems such as QLess, you allow your staff to focus on and fulfill their duties, leaving them feeling productive. You also optimize customer experiences ensuring that they deal with satisfied customers, and this leaves your employees feeling proud of their work. 

One of the major mistakes that business owners make is failing to acknowledge that staff satisfaction is as important as customer satisfaction. If your employees are unfulfilled, they’ll be less productive, and the voluntary turnover rates will increase. 

Streamlines Communication

Great communication and practices foster a strong connection between your brand and customers. QLess digital online queue management system enhances your bi-directional communication and allows your staff to keep in touch with the clients. For instance, customers can easily check-in and out of line and request status updates using email, tests, and apps. Your staff, on the other hand, can use the system to keep the customers updated on their place in the queue. For instance, if the average wait time increases due to unavoidable circumstances, your staff can communicate to the customer to ensure they don’t show up on time but are still made to wait. This enhances transparency, nurturing a healthy business-client relationship.

Reduces Operational Costs

Did you know that systemic inefficiencies can cost you up to 30% of your annual revenue? Assuming every year you generate $10 million in revenues, you could end up losing $3 million! Digital queuing systems are a worthwhile investment. By improving staff productivity, they also reduce the turnover rates, eliminating the need to make new hires often. The reduced wait times and enhanced customer satisfaction increases your sales and number of loyal customers, ultimately increasing your bottom line. All these factors combined result in more efficient operational procedures. You’re also able to identify any bottlenecks in your service provision, eliminate them on time, and cut down unnecessary costs. 

Gives You Access to Customer Data

As a business, you can’t afford to ignore the benefits of collecting customer data. It’s the foundation of data-driven marketing! QLess digital queuing solutions have a tracking and reporting feature that gives you valuable insights into your customers. It converts all client interactions into opportunities to learn more about them and to improve your operational efficiency. For instance, you can access real-time queue data for multiple queues in various locations. This makes it easy for you to detect long queues and step in when the average wait time gets out of hand. You’re also able to pinpoint inefficiencies in your procedures and develop effective solutions.

Our online queuing system allows you to collect customer feedback, giving you insights into how they really feel about the quality of your services. With this information, you can easily establish processes that effectively address your customer’s needs and still align with your overall business goals. 

Other benefits of a digital queuing system include:

  • It enhances speedy decision-making.
  • Facilitates long-term planning.
  • Enhances health and safety by eliminating crowds.
  • Ensures better allocation of resources.

Top Benefits In A Nutshell…

A queuing system provides the following benefits:

For businesses

  • Boosts staff productivity.
  • Eliminates ​long lines.
  • Provides valuable data.
  • Reduces customer complaints.

For customers

  • Eliminates the possibility of joining the wrong line.
  • Allows them to spend their queuing period productively.
  • Shorter wait times – both actual wait times and perceived wait times.
  • Informs them of their real-time position in a queue.

For managers

  • Helps them evaluate customer behavior.
  • Helps them create a healthy working environment.
  • Helps them manage crowds.

Top Features of an Efficient Queuing System

Virtual queuing systems are versatile and dynamic. They often have various tools and components that work together to help you accomplish your organizational goals. Here are the main features you should look out for.

Basic Queue Management

This is the basic functionality, and suppliers only add more robust features to fulfill your business’s needs. Some of the key features that you should look out for:

  • Automated wait time alerts that provide the customer with regular updates of their queue status.
  • Self-service check-in for customers to join queues without having to visit your business.
  • Data and reports to give you a holistic view of your operational efficiency and service provision.
  • Customer routing based on their needs. 

Lobby Management

man sitting in chair at airport waiting for his flight through an online queue line management system

One of the most critical yet overlooked aspects of a queuing system is safety. Yes, customer experience and efficiency are important but maintaining a safe and relaxed waiting environment highly enhances your customer satisfaction rates. Some of the online queue management features, such as virtual queueing and automated updates, help you eliminate inefficiencies and reduce crowding in your waiting area. 

Automated Reminders

Cancellations and no-shows hurt your bottom line. Queuing systems contain automated updates that remind customers when their appointment or booking is due. This enables them to either show up to your premises or reschedule the appointment to a more convenient time, allowing you to slot in your walk-in clients. With QLess, you can even customize your reminders to their preferences. 

Appointment Scheduling

Appointment scheduling forms the basis for your line queue management. By allowing customers to book appointments ahead of time, you ensure that they arrive in an orderly manner. If you overschedule your bookings, you’ll end up with long lines and frustrated customers. Under scheduling, on the other hand, prevents you from achieving your revenue generation potential. A digital queuing system optimizes your appointments, ultimately increasing your bottom line. 

Virtual Queuing

Virtual queueing is convenient, reduces a customer’s wait time, and gives them the flexibility to wait for their turn whichever way they find most convenient. This reduces the number of people that are in your waiting lobby, as well as the perceived wait time. 

What Should You Consider When Choosing an Online Queue Management System?

people queuing beside Louis Vuitton store

When it comes to choosing the right online queue management software, a one-size-fits-all approach never works. You need to choose a system based on your unique business needs. For instance, a healthcare center will likely need a more complex solution compared to retail shops because it has multiple touchpoints.

Some of the other factors that you should consider include:

  1. Scalability: When your customer demands expand or your business needs increase, will the system handle it, or will you have to get another one? Go for a queuing system that has the ability to grow with your business needs!  
  2. Budget: the right system should give you much more than you spend on it. Since not every business has an unlimited budget for a queuing system, you should go for a solution that allows you to start with the basic features and add more as your needs increase.
  3. Security: your customers trust you with their sensitive information…don’t let them down! Always go for a solution that guarantees data security. If your customer data is leaked, your reputation will suffer, and customers will lose trust in your business. 
  4. Integration: businesses often use multiple solutions at the same time. It’s critical that the system integrates with your digital and physical channels to streamline customer experience throughout the touchpoints, reduce your costs and the employees’ learning curve.
  5. Omnichannel solutions: choose an online queue management system that can cater to the diverse needs of your customers. For instance, there are customers that prefer booking appointments at the physical location, while there are others that find online booking more convenient. Don’t lock any of them out!
  6. User experience: ease of use will always trump quality features, and here’s why: if your customers or staff are unable to use the queuing system, they’ll eventually stop using it, even when it has revolutionary features. You’ll also spend a lot of resources training people to use it, making it a costly investment. 
  7. Third-party integrations: the solution that you go for should ideally allow integration with third-party apps, including calendars. For instance, if the system has appointment booking features, your employees can sync their calendars with it to highlight their availability.

The queuing system should also adapt to the varying needs of your customers without disrupting workflow. For instance, it should cater to both virtual appointments and walk-ins.

Top Factors to Consider When Choosing an Online Queue Management System Supplier

A queue line management system can prevent this long line of people from forming

Choosing the right partner for your queue line management solutions can be difficult, especially if this is your first time working with development companies. Here’s the criteria you should use to narrow down your options:

  1. Portfolio Discovery: look at their previous projects and pay close attention to the customers they’ve worked with. This will give you a feel of their work quality and industry expertise. Don’t forget to look up how long they’ve been in the industry, their online reviews, and information about their founders. 
  2. Company Culture: does it align with that of your business? The creative side of system development is very important, and if your cultures are different, you’ll have a hard time collaborating with them, especially if you need a custom solution. 
  3. Reliability: can they deliver your solution within the agreed-upon timelines? Are they available when you need them? The first few weeks of implementing a new system can be hectic, and you need a supplier that will walk you through the entire process. 
  4. Communication: the customer-supplier relationship when it comes to application and software is often a long-term partnership. The supplier should communicate in advance regarding maintenance and updates or when they experience downtime that impacts your business. 
  5. Transparency: the queue management system supplier should be forthcoming about their professional scope, limitations, best solutions, and should communicate the risks of a queueing delay. You should also note that software is dynamic. It’s not a one-off purchase and at some point, you’ll require an upgrade. The vendor should be upfront.  Let’s see how queuing solutions can help in each case about any maintenance fees or updates that you’ll need to pay for.  
  6. Customer Support: during the first months of implementing the queue management system, there will be a lot of back and forth between you and the vendor. You’ll likely encounter a few challenges along the way and the supplier should be readily available to answer all your questions. 

Don’t forget to conduct background research on the company before setting up your first meeting. If possible, go for a supplier to also provide complementary services. This way, when your business needs additional services, you won’t have to go back to the drawing board.

Enjoy the Power of Queuing Systems Today!

An online queue system can help reduce lines and wait times.

Virtual queueing systems are becoming more of a necessity than an option, which is why so many businesses across the world are adopting them. They give you access to valuable customer data, thereby aiding in decision-making. These systems also reduce your operational costs, enhance staff productivity and streamline communication. Most importantly, queuing systems reduce wait time, ultimately enhancing positive customer experiences. 

If you’re looking for an effective solution to manage customer queues, QLess queue line management software is here to save the day! Contact us now for your customized solution.