Customer Queue Management for Government Offices

Government offices at any level can and should benefit from a customer queue management system. Something has to be done to improve the stereotypical reputation of government agencies. If you work for the government, you've heard all the complaints. Furthermore, you're aware that they usually revolve around time management. From an objective perspective, it isn't hard to understand the reason that government agencies are often hours behind schedule. Most offices are not only severely understaffed, but they have no budget to speak of thanks to cuts on city, state, and federal levels. Without the resources to hire and train enough staff or to streamline office protocol, employees have to make do with what they have. Unfortunately, it isn't always enough.

The question is, how can you improve the situation on a limited budget? What can you do to maximize the potential of your staff and the resources they have? That's where a queue management platform comes into play. It takes care of all the details, including the mundane but essential tasks of day-to-day business. Everyone has a schedule, from the citizens who come to see you to the employees who work in the office. Lines cease to exist, at least on a noticeable, irritating basis. Your waiting rooms won't be overflowing with impatient citizens, nor will there be long, snaking lines spilling out from every official on duty. Taxpayers who visit your office won't have any reasons to complain. Even better, they may start singing your praises in the community. See for yourself how a queue system can make your office run smoothly.

The Queue Question

Although an ever-increasing number of businesses and government agencies are embracing the advantages of customer queue management, you might not be tuned into its potential yet. Essentially, a queue system is a virtual line. It takes the quaint number system employed by countless offices and places it in a cloud instead. That's unquestionably more efficient, and not just because cloud technology is more up-to-date than the traditional system.

There's no transparency when a citizen or customer has to pick an actual number. You know which number is next in line, but there's no telling how long each appointment will take. You're forced to see people on a first-come, first-serve basis, as well, and that isn't always practical. Someone who has a five-minute problem to solve could be held captive in line for an hour or more. Alternately, someone with a drawn-out issue that could take a while may wander in late in the day after things are already behind, which can keep staff on the clock long after closing.

Those situations aren't ideal for anyone involved. Employees aren't prepared or as productive as they could be. Citizens aren't prepared, either, and they're predisposed toward impatience and irritation because they know what to expect when they visit the city manager's office or the public works department. A queue system shifts the game.

Making the Line Obsolete

The takeaway feature is the defining benefit of a customer management platform: physical lines are obsolete. People will continue to wait in the lobby or waiting room, but not for hours. Now, they'll be waiting for their appointment times to arrive. They still technically have a number, but the number exists in the queue system, which seamlessly keeps track of who has appointments at what time and with whom.

Once your office incorporates the queue system, citizens have several options to use it. They can visit the website for your agency, where the QLess system is all set up; they can download the app, which is available for Android and iOS devices; and they can use the QLess kiosks that appear on-site. The kiosks are doubly handy, as citizens can use them to print out any necessary forms they need and to find out what documentation they need to bring to their appointment. That feature, by the way, further cuts down on waiting and wasted time. Citizens don't have to wait for essential documents, nor do they have to wait to ask a question, and employees aren't wasting their resources searching for and explaining paperwork.

Using any of those methods, a community member can make an appointment on any available day, at any available time. When they do so, they secure their spot in the virtual queue. No one else can take it. That doesn't mean that you have to turn away people who show up without using the new queue system, however. Rather, the system places newcomers in open time slots. At that point, they can either wait around or do something else until their appointment. Everyone has that option. There's no need to show up at the office until it's time.

Up-to-Date Communication Options

a woman uses a smartphone and a laptop

Introducing a customer queue management app and platform will delight your citizens, particular members of younger generations who prefer to do everything on their smart devices. What's even more impressive is that you can communicate with them via text. Better still, they can text you back.

The QLess system allows government employees to send out emails, text messages, or voice calls. You can let incoming visitors know that the office is half an hour behind schedule, for example, giving them a head's up that their appointment has been pushed back as a result. That way, no one wastes time coming into the office only to find that someone else is being helped during their reserved slot. That's annoying no matter what you're doing, but with QLess, citizens know that they have time to run another errand or relax at home for a few more minutes before leaving.

In the same vein, citizens can send messages or use the app to change their appointment times. They can let you know that they're running late or they need to reschedule for another day. The system can then fill the empty slot with a walk-in or with someone trying to make a last-minute appointment through the system.

Decrease in Downtime

a reception desk stands empty

As you can imagine, the ease with which every open time slot gets filled cuts down on downtime among government employees. Just as your staff doesn't have to scramble to calm irate customers, they don't have to sit around waiting, either. The customer queue management platform organizes their schedules for them. It evenly distributes incoming citizens effortlessly. As a result, employees can assist a steady stream of incoming citizens. If they do have lax moments during the day, they can use the extra time to check their daily schedule. Because citizens include details about the reason for their visit when they reserve a spot, staff members can look ahead to prepare for their appointments.

Troubleshooting Tactics

Another helpful feature of the QLess system is its ability to track the behavior of citizens. Are people still walking out before their appointments? Do they arrive late without alerting anyone at the office? What's their satisfaction rate? You can keep up with their behavioral patterns and ratings to find out which areas still need improvement. In communities with working-class professionals, for example, it's almost impossible to get to a government office before 5 PM on a weekday. Perhaps you could serve your citizens better by staying open later one night a week or offering Saturday hours.

Content Customers, Easygoing Employees

Customers are more content when they're faced with an organized environment. The QLess system works to prepare them for their visit, as well, which is also helpful. The platform reduces the risk of a citizen coming in only to discover that they don't have the forms they need or the required documentation to get their driver's license or submit a ticket for building approval.

Your employees will be better equipped to do their jobs, too. They won't throw all of their energy and resources at unnecessary tasks, such as mediating unhappy community members. They know what's on the schedule, what they need to help each upcoming appointment, and they're not faced with angry people all day, every day. A happy, productive office environment makes a difference.

Implementing a customer queue management system will quickly eliminate the significant sources of complaint against most government offices. No one will have to dread coming into work knowing that they'll spend the entire day trying to catch up and get through a crush of waiting visitors. The leap into the 21st century will be greatly appreciated by millennials, as well as the generations coming up behind them. If something can be done online swiftly and efficiently, then younger citizens will almost always jump at the chance. That's how they prefer to make appointments. The ability to interact with customer service reps and government agents via email and text message will speak well to your office in and of itself. The marked lack of waiting will change your reputation.

Learn how to transform your government office and boost operational efficiencies in our whitepaper, The Digital Citizen.