How an SMS Queuing Software Streamlines the Customer Journey

Introduction to SMS Queuing Software

The customer journey has become a pivotal part of how most businesses analyze their success. Everyone hopes to create a frictionless, smooth experience for customers from when they enter a store or book an appointment to when they leave. Seamless customer interactions lead to happier customers and better experiences, improving a business’s bottom line and reputation. Part of creating a smooth customer journey is understanding the habits and preferences of your customers for which a SMS queuing software can be a great supplement to help with these pain points. Many traits define today’s consumers and distinguish them from previous ones, one of the most important is their usage of technology. Today’s consumers spend a significant portion of their waking lives using desktop or smartphone technology, and their usage doesn’t stop when they enter a retail store, doctor’s office, academic advisory building, or undergo any other shopping experience. They expect technology to be implemented throughout their daily lives, and businesses that want to appeal to modern audiences should pay attention.

One of the most impactful ways to augment your customer journey through technology is implementing an SMS queue system like QLess. This mobile-powered technology allows customers to enter a virtual queue through their phones, they can remotely join a queue for a doctor’s appointment, DMV license renewal, academic advising meeting, or retail line through live SMS updates which will go directly to their mobile phone and keep them updated about their spot in line, and eventually, when they have reached the front of the line, they’ll receive a message telling them to come to the front. This virtual queuing software aligns with the modern consumer's technological preferences while enabling businesses to create a more efficient customer journey. It takes much of the stress and angst out of waits, removing the need for physical lines and waiting rooms. It is a customer experience solution that can profoundly impact businesses, but some might require proof of concept. Below, we will provide that by doing a deep dive into how an SMS queue system aligns with the modern consumer’s shopping preferences and streamlines the customer journey.

Smartphone Habits of the Modern Consumer

If you are going to implement any type of tech solution into your business, it has to be suited to the habits of the people you are trying to target. A solution powered by mobile technology aligns with the habits of today’s consumers in a significant way. The modern consumer is extremely active on their smartphone and uses it as a major part of their spending. Let’s look at some habits the average consumer has with their smartphone: "The average American spends 4.1 hours on their mobile phone every day," according to CNET. It is not just any one kind of person that has a smartphone and spends a lot of their time on it, it is a vast majority of the people. According to the Pew Research Center, "97% of Americans own a phone of some kind, with 85% having a smartphone." The percentage of people owning a smartphone has increased dramatically since 2011, when only 35% of people owned a smartphone, more people than ever own a smartphone, and the number climbs yearly.

The technology is near ubiquitous, and there isn’t as steep of a generational divide as one would expect, while there are certainly a lot more Gen Z and millennials who own smartphones, the significant majority of seniors do as well. According to a separate study by the Pew Research Center, "61% of seniors own a smartphone." That number has climbed dramatically since 2012 when only 12% of seniors owned a smartphone, if the overwhelming majority of prospective customers own smartphones and are incredibly active on them, businesses can feel confident that implementing a solution powered by smartphone technology, such as an SMS queuing software, won’t alienate any customers.

However, what should be stressed is that not implementing smartphone technology into your customer journey might actually be alienating your customers. According to a survey from Retail Touchpoints, "More than 90% of customers use their smartphone while shopping in-store." People want smartphone technology to be a significant component of their shopping experience, this isn’t exclusive to the retail industry. For instance, people use their smartphones for everything imaginable, according to TripAdvisor, "42% of people use smartphones for booking trips and activities." The average customer plans, books, and pays for an array of things from their phone. Most consumers use their smartphones for nearly every aspect of their lives, whether you are running a higher education institute, doctor’s office, or retail store, understanding and accommodating the smartphone preference most customers have is important.

Do Customers Want Mobile Communication From Businesses?

Consumers dedicate a significant portion of their waking hours to mobile device usage, the pervasive utility of smartphones encompasses a wide spectrum of activities for individuals, but the question is, do they want to hear from businesses through their phone, or join a line via an SMS queuing software? Do they want to discuss upcoming appointments, hear promotional updates, or ask staff questions through their phone? While it differs depending on the consumer, generally speaking, the typical customer businesses interact with will prefer mobile communications from the businesses they frequent. According to a QLess survey "Of 250 US adults aged 45 or older, 63.2% said they prefer to schedule appointments through their phone, either via a phone call or mobile app; furthermore, 90.7% of surveyors stated they would prefer to receive appointment reminders or communications from a business through their phone, either through a phone call, SMS message, or mobile app. More specifically, customers want text message communications from businesses."

In a separate QLess survey "Of 250 US adults, 70.8% of respondents noted they’d prefer text message communications from businesses as opposed to phone calls." A lot of data indicates that SMS messages are the best possible way of connecting with customers for businesses. According to PC Mag, "text messages have a 45% response rate, which is 8x higher than emails." They also have open rates that are nearly 5x higher than emails. Customers tend to be much more engaged with their cell phones than their emails, and they don’t mind businesses communicating with them on their phones, this doesn’t mean that customers like cold texting, which is illegal. Customers want businesses they are already connected with to engage with them through mobile communications. According to the previously mentioned QLess survey, more customers said they were more likely to respond to a text message from a business if it was from a business they had previously used than any other listed answer.

Communication is an important component of customer satisfaction, customers want to feel seen and heard, and they want to have access to staff throughout the appointment or shopping process. Businesses that hope to win customers over by providing high-quality communication features should do so in the way customers want to be connected. A lot of data indicates customers prefer text communications from the businesses they frequent.

Why Omnichannel is the New Normal

There is a buzzword cropping up in many industries, and that word is omnichannel. Many believe omnichannel is how businesses in industries like retail can survive and thrive in the new digital economy, but the importance of omnichannel isn’t limited to one industry. Omnichannel is a trend centered around the concept that most customers don’t just want one channel of contact and engagement with their shopping experience, instead, they want several. Whether physical, mobile, point-of-sale, or any other channel, businesses must expand their customer experience in new directions to keep up. Customers are now anticipating a multichannel experience in many of the businesses they frequent and prefer things that way. According to a large study of 46,000 consumers by the Harvard Business Review, "73% of consumers prefer to shop through multiple channels." Many of your customers use multiple channels in their shopping experience, whether you are an appointment-based business or a retailer. For appointment-based businesses, they’ll schedule appointments through their smartphone or desktop, enter your office, and use on-site kiosks or connect with staff to check in; in contrast, retailers have other options like browsing for products online, heading to stores, and comparing prices through their phones.

Omnichannel is only growing in popularity, and businesses must key in on this form of consumerism. Not only do your customers prefer it, but there is significant value for businesses. According to Clerk, "Omnichannel shoppers have a 30% higher lifetime value than those who shop using only one channel." This is because they engage with your business on multiple levels rather than only through one. This provides value by increasing the data businesses receive and enhancing customer engagement. Using omnichannel to increase customer satisfaction requires having digital systems capable of impacting the customer experience positively. QLess is a valuable addition to a customer journey, as it seamlessly blends a company's physical and digital aspects. Customers can schedule appointments, enter a line, and communicate with staff, all through their phones. This moves a significant component of the shopping experience to your digital channels, limiting the physical component of the shopping experience only to what is necessary. It creates a seamless omnichannel experience that aligns with the modern customer’s expectations.

How SMS Queuing Software Increases Efficiency

There are a lot of different components that define the customer journey and the efficiency of customer flow is a big part of it. Smooth customer flow means consumers experience fast service times, a seamless wait, and a lack of bottlenecks. Delayed flow means there are long waits and dissatisfied customers. Customers despise waiting in long queues, and the higher your average wait times, the less likely you are to have happy customers. Efficiency in flow is a crucial component of the customer journey that businesses can’t afford to overlook. Customers hate long waits and it would not come as surprise to businesses. According to the QLess consumer surveys, "59.4% of customers associate crowded waiting rooms and long lines with unsafe conditions, and 68.9% of consumers would patronize a competitor’s business if it had noticeably shorter wait times." Most consumers’ loyalty ends with a long wait, which is understandable.

Addressing long waits with an SMS queue management system will enable businesses to improve customer loyalty and streamline their overall experience. Appointment scheduling software with SMS does this in several key ways. The first is that it enables businesses to collect high-value data on their operation, which they can use to tweak processes to run more efficiently. In fact, customers use the SMS queue management system to check in and enter the queue, and QLess can collect high-value business intelligence. Enterprises can receive information on their median wait times, transaction times, and no-show percentages. This data can be categorized according to the time of day, the employee that handled the service, and more. It enables businesses to better understand their operation and make decisions to fix problems impacting their efficiency.

On the other hand, an SMS queuing software helps businesses become more efficient by simplifying the job for staff. Staff productivity defines customer flow, but it is often difficult for staff to manage the stream of customers. QLess improves staff efficiency by providing them with a flexible calendar, customers book appointments and check in virtually, and all that information is uploaded to a digital calendar that the entire team can view; therefore, staff gets better insight into what needs to be done, and the calendar can be adjusted and edited on the fly enabling businesses to respond to changes faster. Improving operational efficiencies will lead to an entire customer journey free from friction and extended waits. An SMS queue system is a tool designed to create a more efficient business, free from the bottlenecks of long waits. That is why QLess has been found to reduce wait times by 97% and improve staff productivity by up to 90%.

SMS Queue System - man in train holding smartphone

Personalization for Consumers That Demand it

Before modern technology transformed the shopping experience, consumers didn’t expect personalization, they were content to enter the doctor’s office, retail outlet, or academic office, wait in line, fill in forms, and leave after receiving the product or service they came for; nevertheless, times have changed. Customers now expect to receive a personalized experience from start to finish, according to Startup Bonsai, "80% of customers are more likely to buy from businesses that provide a tailored experience, and 70% of consumers only give their loyalty if brands understand their individual needs." What exactly is personalization in the shopping experience? It is a multi-faceted marketing tactic, in some industries, personalization is using customer data to augment their experience, like suggesting products or services that suit their pre-established preferences. Personalization can also be simple communication, making your customer feel like an individual within your business, not just a number. Personalization can be either communication or experience-based, but either way, it is about tailoring your offerings to the unique needs of individuals. This is not easy for a busy business, whether in the healthcare industry or the retail sector, yet customers expect and demand personalization, so businesses must adjust.

QLess is a tool that allows businesses to handle personalization at scale. Data collection is important, as it shows businesses insights into individual experiences, but what is more significant here are the communication features. QLess has bi-directional communication features that will enable businesses to connect with customers easier and provide more personalized communications. These features can be customized and automated, but they will allow the QLess SMS queuing software to serve as a communication point of contact that provides customers with the personalized experiences they seek out. Automated communication allows businesses to send customers instant greetings once they enter a store or office and check into a line. These greetings can include the name of customers through their profiles for a more personal touch. The messages can include updates on information, breakdowns of promotional offerings, or whatever kind of message businesses choose to greet customers with.

Businesses can also send custom messages to customers that show up as SMS messages if they need to relay a specific message., in the same way, customers can respond and ask staff questions and receive responses. If a customer needs to update staff on appointment details, ask about a return policy, or communicate any other key details, the QLess SMS queuing software communication features make it possible. Ensuring a personalized touch for a large business isn’t easy and requires tools that can handle mass communication. The QLess SMS queue management system has engrained features that make connecting with your customers and providing a personal approach possible.

Improved Appointment Reminders and Customer Feedback

There are several benefits businesses will find from opening up customer communication. Enterprises that can fully harness the power of customer communication will see their bottom line improve and processes become more efficient. An SMS queue system is a solution that streamlines the waiting process and leads to enhanced communication that can pay off in several crucial areas. Two of the most important ways QLess’ SMS queuing software can benefit businesses are better appointment reminders and easier collecting of vital customer feedback. Appointment reminders are hugely important for businesses, but many operations fail to realize these impacts. Customers can be fickle and forgetful, and missed appointments are common across industries; therefore, every business should be aware of the impact of a missed appointment. Operations will block time off on their calendar, staff will commit, and customers don’t arrive. This causes delays in line and wasted opportunities, as staff has allotted time and resources to a customer that never comes. No-shows are a problem in every service-based industry and have risen by 5% since the pandemic began.

Appointment reminders are how businesses can stem the flow of missed appointments, while enterprises will likely never be able to ensure 100% appointment attendance, reminders can cut down no-show percentages significantly. Using the QLess SMS queue system, businesses can automate SMS appointment reminders for customers that they receive on their phones in the days leading up to their appointments. They can require confirmation within a set time for customers to keep their appointment slot making sure businesses aren’t booking time slots off for people that won’t show up. The SMS customer feedback feature makes it easier for businesses to receive customer feedback that can provide important insights into operations. This feature enables enterprises to send feedback requests to customers once their appointment has finished. The business can choose whether it is a simple rating system or a specific survey, but the link is sent to customers through text message right after their appointment to increase the likelihood of a response. Receiving customer feedback is an impactful way to learn what aspects of the customer journey your customers like and which they don’t. If many customers complain about a specific aspect of your business, you can understand what needs to change.

More communication leads to a better understanding of your customers' wants and needs. It also ensures you can reduce the number of customers who miss scheduled appointments, so your business’s profitability isn’t harmed by no-shows. The communication features of QLess lead to easier customer feedback and higher-quality appointment reminders to ensure a smoother customer journey.

SMS Queuing Software Conclusion

To survive and thrive in the modern digital-dominated landscape, businesses need to have a keen understanding of who their customers are, this includes how they communicate and shop and what they expect from the businesses they frequent; for instance, businesses trying to appeal to current consumers, one of the biggest things to focus on is the importance of mobile in the customer journey. The average consumer spends a massive amount of time daily on their cell phones, and they expect their mobile preferences to be reflected in how they shop or go through appointment processes, they are aware of cell phones' impact on augmenting and improving the shopping experience, and they often prioritize businesses that reflect that same awareness.

For businesses looking to earn the loyalty of their customers and improve their experience, adding an SMS queue system can go a long way. An SMS queuing software empowers customers to join virtual queues remotely with just a few taps of their cell device, they can receive updates about their wait time sent via SMS and enter when it is time for their appointment, this creates a seamless queue that is more enjoyable for customers and more efficient for businesses. In a world powered by the mobile consumer, smart businesses are implementing future-facing changes to appeal to them. That is what a QLess SMS virtual queue system can provide.