Ways to Reduce Queue Waiting Time in Service Operations Management

Introduction

Service operations management plays a pivotal role in customer success. The service operations manager coordinates customer service and allocates resources to meet customers' needs. This is a massively impactful role in an organization. They're in charge of structuring customer service and organizing the customer experience. This requires a high-level understanding of what customers like and don’t like and the best ways of interacting with them. A line management system can be a great way to reduce queue waiting times and enhance the customer experience.One thing, across industries that it is abundantly clear customers are not fond of is long queues.

According to a study from TotalRetail, 43% of consumers say that long waits are the most frustrating aspect of a customer experience.

People are growing ever more impatient. The same study shows 39% of customers have less patience now than they did before the pandemic. Service operations managers that want to ensure customer satisfaction know that long wait times are a major obstacle.So how can wait times be reduced? Long waits are a significant part of a broad range of industries, from retail and education to healthcare and hospitality. Customer service and front desk staff can only move so fast. Unfortunately, there will be times when demand for services outpaces supply. However, service operations managers can’t resign themselves to long queues and extended customer service wait times. They need to find ways to reduce queue waiting times to ensure they limit customer dissatisfaction and walkaways.One of the ways to reduce queue waiting times that leaders are adopting across sectors is queue management software. Queue management software is a digital solution that enables enterprises to run virtual queues that transform the customer experience and create a faster, more efficient operation. These have become popular as service operation managers key in on cutting the waits that directly contribute to a bad experience for customers. QLess is a leading queue management solution implemented by major operations in industries from healthcare and retail to education.Let’s look at customer queue management software and why it's one of the best ways to reduce queue waiting times.

How Queue Management Software Works

Queue management software is a step towards digitization for enterprises looking to reduce customer wait times. Essentially, it is software that controls customer flow for enterprises. This is so that businesses don’t have to oversee and manage lines themselves. Customers enter virtual queues to wait in line, receive updates on the actual wait time, and arrive at the front desk when it is time to receive the needed service. Customers can check into their virtual queues remotely and arrive only when it is their turn.Aside from transforming the customer journey, a digital queue management system is a solution that greatly benefits the processes of the enterprises that implement it. Physical queues are highly random and unpredictable. But a virtual, digitized version works differently. Staff can move people in and out of the line, and view who is in line and what they need. Staff also has the ability to directly contact customers through the QLess platform. It helps enterprises cut into service times while also improving the queuing experience for customers.Implementing queue management software is a decision that will bring significant advantages to service operations managers seeking to modernize and improve their customer experience. There are significant advantages, from increasing customer loyalty through an improved experience to making life easier for staff. Let’s dive into some of the core ways queuing software impacts customer service in various industries.

One of the Top Ways to Reduce Queue Waiting Times

While many businesses have earned customers' loyalty, customer loyalty can be fickle. According to Zendesk, 50% of consumers will switch to a competitor after one bad experience, and 80% will switch after multiple bad experiences. Even if you are providing customers with a great product or service, if the experiential aspect of your business is lacking, customers will not stick around. Long waits are one part of the customer experience that most customers simply won’t tolerate.

In a QLess survey of 250 US adults, 79% of respondents said they’d abandoned a purchase or appointment due to long waits. 69% said they’d be willing to patronize a competitor’s business if it had noticeably shorter wait times.

Customer expectations are for prompt service with a personalized feel. Wait times tend to have a pronounced negative impact on retention and business outcomes. That is why businesses are seeking ways to reduce queue waiting times. They want to earn the loyalty of their customers and keep them happy.If you've noticed wait times are higher than they should be, the QLess queue management system can be the solution. QLess has been found to reduce walkaways by up to 75% and improve customer satisfaction by up to 100% by helping businesses significantly slash their average wait time.So how does QLess help businesses reduce the time customers spend in queues? By providing enterprises with a tool to organize and manage the line process for them. QLess allows businesses to configure line policies. People with specific appointments are moved to the front of the line while walk-ins are placed toward the back. Enterprises can build multiple lines, like a line for a specific employee or service. It is more organized and structured than the typical in-person queue. Staff can move customers in and out if necessary. This helps reduce the impact of late customers or no-shows.With heightened control over the line process and the ability to automate, an online queue management system can significantly trim down average business wait lengths. It is one of the best ways to reduce queue waiting times, creating a more efficient and customer-friendly enterprise.

An Improved Waiting Experience

One tenet of customer service that service operations managers need to be aware of is that it isn’t just how long you wait. It is also how you wait. At peak times, a substantial wait of some sort is likely unavoidable. It is nearly impossible to completely cut waits out of your business, but changing how your customers wait will go a long way. Many businesses try improving the waiting experience by adding a comfortable waiting area with couches and a television. The truth is, the ideal way to optimize the waiting experience is by giving your customers the freedom to decide for themselves.With QLess, customers can remotely enter a virtual line from their phone or desktop computer. They can check into this line, and receive SMS updates on their queue. They only arrive at the exact time they need to be there. If they choose, they can wait from their home, a nearby cafe, a park, or wherever else they please. Rather than be contained to a waiting room with the news playing on mute or stand in long, winding physical lines, they are in complete control over where they wait.

QLess uses several core principles of queue psychology to guide how our software works. Several core tenets of queue psychology explain why we tend to find the act of waiting in line to be so frustrating.

Two of these tenets are that uncertainty makes waits feel longer, and unoccupied waits feel longer than occupied waits. QLess removes the uncertainty from the waiting experience by providing customers with an accurate estimate of their queuing time, with regular SMS updates throughout. The wait times can be as occupied as customers want. However, there are no requirements for them to stand in a physical line or wait in a waiting room.Not only is a queue management system one of the top ways to reduce queue waiting times, but it also ensures the experience is as friction-free as possible. With regular updates on timing and the ability to wait remotely, it empowers independent customers with more control over their queuing experience.

A More Communicative End-to-End Process

Standing in a winding physical queue is as impersonal a customer experience as there is. Customers simply feel like one in a large mass of people, waiting patiently (or impatiently) for the product or service they came for. Service operations managers will know that personalization in the shopping experience is something many modern customers expect and demand.

According to McKinsey, 71% of customers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions, and 76% get upset when this doesn’t happen. Communication is a big part of this.

Communication in the queuing process is typically very limited. Customers will enter a line and often not talk to a customer service representative until they reach the front. While this is standard practice, it is something many enterprises want to change. With QLess’ bi-directional communication features, service operations managers can enable a more communicative, transparent queuing process.With these messaging features, staff and customers can connect at scale. If customers are late for an appointment or need to provide some last-minute updates to staff, they can simply use the QLess app and directly inform a customer service team. If staff need updates from customers to make their appointment process more efficient, customers are more accessible than ever. The communication features are scalable, as staff can message many customers simultaneously. They can schedule automated messages to entire groups of customers, including same-day appointment reminders or updates to every individual in line. It makes conversation and customer engagement easy.Queue management software is one of the best ways to reduce queue waiting times that service operation managers have targeted. But, they still need to focus on communication throughout the appointment process. QLess adds a mobile touchstone for customers and staff to message back and forth, ensuring added transparency and personalization.​​

People working in an operations center

Measure Customer Engagement with Feedback

Every customer has a story to tell about your business, and businesses must listen to these stories. Customer feedback should be something businesses pay close attention to. Your customers are the best people to tell you about how your customer experience initiatives are performing. Many businesses pride themselves on excellent customer service but fail to ask the people receiving this service what they think. And if customers don’t tell you, they are just as happy to share their opinions with others.One of the biggest impacts social media has had on customer behavior is that it empowers consumers more than ever. One bad experience can turn into a PR nightmare.

Forbes’ data indicates that 30% of customers that have a negative experience will share it on social media. But, customers are also willing to share positive experiences on social media. 49% of consumers are willing to share a positive experience on social platforms.

Collecting and analyzing feedback from your customers is an excellent way to better understand the impact of your enterprise’s customer experience initiative. QLess has a customer feedback feature designed to help enterprises collect, store, and analyze customer feedback. Enterprises can come up with questions or solicit customer satisfaction scores. The pulse survey feature will send an SMS link to customers right after their appointment to solicit a response.Customer feedback can indicate to you what people think about your enterprise. While it is subjective, if you see repeated negative feedback about the arrival process or queue times, you know there’s a problem. If you are hearing positive feedback about your virtual queue management system, you can understand what is working. Customers often have a lot to say, and hearing them out will give you a better sense of your business. The QLess customer feedback features make collecting and analyzing feedback a much more straightforward process.

Identify Weak Spots to Improve Operations

Customer feedback can help businesses better understand what customers think of them and what they might want to improve. This is something all enterprises should focus on. But one of the top ways to reduce queue waiting times is to utilize data. Collecting data on customer queuing is difficult without virtual queue management solutions. This is because tracking individual wait times is near-impossible if a queue is physical rather than digital. But with QLess, enterprises can collect high-value data on their queue process to help them improve their operation.

QLess has business intelligence features that enable enterprises to collect data on the queue process and customer experience.

Some of the data that QLess provides includes median wait time, no-show percentage, and transaction time. This information can be segmented according to the time of day, the employee that handled the appointment, the day of the week, and other categories. It can also be displayed with reporting features that break the data into charts and graphs. These features make it easy to spot trends in your business that can indicate where problems lie.Data helps enterprises make more efficient decisions shaped by numbers rather than opinions. According to Tableau, many companies have seen incredible results by focusing on data-driven decision-making. Pepsi cut its analysis time by up to 90% using business intelligence. Lenovo also used data to increase reporting efficiency by 95% across several departments. With QLess’ data, businesses can make informed, efficient decisions that improve their operation.The essential metrics from QLess help businesses determine how their queuing process is performing. It allows them to identify weak aspects of their customer experience. If median wait times are significantly longer at specific times of day, and this trend is consistently repeating, identifying this bottleneck is the first step to fixing it. For businesses seeking ways to reduce queue waiting times, a key part of the process is figuring out the problem with your queue process. Accessing useful data helps with this.

Make Life Easier on Frontline Staff

Frontline staff try to provide excellent service while juggling many different roles. They are tasked with finding ways to reduce queue waiting times, handle customer complaints, and organize appointments. It is a lot of work. Service operations managers are in charge of making lives easier for their staff. Technology is one of the best ways to alleviate their burden. The QLess smart queue management software is one of the ideal ways to take a load off the staff’s plate.Happy employees mean better results. According to Forbes, high employee satisfaction rates can be tied to productivity increases of up to 20% for businesses. Beyond productivity, happier employees are reflected in every aspect of a business. According to the Harvard Business Review, happy employees also lead to happier customers. The satisfaction of your employees goes a long way to boosting the results of your business. So, overwhelming frontline staff with frustrated customers and no technical assistance is a bad decision.QLess can help make the work of staff drastically easier. The queue management software gives staff elevated control over the customer waiting experience. They can find ways to reduce queue waiting times simply by altering things on the virtual queue on their phone or desktop. They can communicate with customers virtually and get helpful information without needing to talk to each customer individually. Overseeing the check-in process is far simpler, as customers can digitally check themselves in. It reduces the tasks they need to take care of so they can focus on providing the best possible customer service.Frontline staff plays a crucial role for enterprises, as they are the first representative customers come into contact with. It is important to find a way to simplify their job and ensure their happiness.

QLess goes a long way in this regard. The QLess software has been found to increase staff productivity by up to 90%.

Virtually Structure Your Customer Service

Service operations managers crave organization and structure. Building a system that can organize customer interactions and ensure they receive efficient, positive service is a big part of their job description. But this can be difficult because so much of customer service is random and disorganized. It's dependent on everything from the length of a queue to customers' moods. Moving your customer service infrastructure to a digital format will give service operations managers heightened control over the customer experience. This technology creates a more organized and efficient system.QLess includes a virtual appointment calendar that can be organized and edited. It is a digital schedule that your entire customer service team can access, and it helps management provide increased visibility on staff’s day. One of the best ways to reduce queue waiting times is to help staff increase their efficiency. A well-organized smart calendar will increase business predictability. The QLess calendar can be color-coded according to the employee, appointment type, and more. Staff can click on the appointment to see the customer that has booked it and contact them with appointment reminders, or request additional information.The more organized staff’s workflows are, the more efficient queues and lineups will be. That is why improving the structure of staff calendars is one of the best ways to reduce queue waiting times. With QLess, service operations managers can virtually organize their customer service calendars. This helps to create a more efficient and effective enterprise.

Conclusion

The queuing process is a core part of the customer experience. Typically, it is something that is a big source of customer frustration. Standing in a long line or sitting in a waiting room provide customers with an impersonal, unenjoyable experience, but many enterprises see this process as unavoidable. However, for service operations managers seeking to challenge this notion, queue management software is one of the best ways to reduce queue waiting times.With the QLess customer queue management software, enterprises can cut wait times and create a more pleasant waiting experience. Empowering customers to wait remotely and providing accurate wait time forecasts makes for a more convenient and transparent process for customers. With communication, feedback, business intelligence, and calendar features, QLess addresses a range of other customer service needs as well.The customer experience is a defining part of a modern business, and enterprises are pouring resources into enhancing this aspect of their operation.

For service operations managers seeking ways to reduce queue waiting times and increase overall business efficiency, QLess is a well-rounded solution that can produce a significant impact.