Why Virtual Queuing is a Game Changer for Colleges and Universities

Introduction to Virtual Queueing in Higher Education

Higher education is a critical period of development in students' lives. It is a time where students grow into young adults capable of entering the workforce, a pivotal transformation that can shape the next fifty years of their lives. Students have options when selecting which college or university to attend, and providing them with the best possible experience is a vital part of attracting potential students and student retention.

Navigating the bureaucracy of higher education can be difficult. Meetings with college advisors and staff that should be 15-20 minute engagements can wind up taking hours due to long queues and wait times. The average college student is typically quite busy, with a lot on their plate, and standing in long lines is an experience that, if recurring, can lead to disenfranchised students.

For 4-year colleges, prioritizing the student experience is a long-term driver of success. At the end of the day, students are customers. It is expected that there will be some customer turnover, but keeping the rate manageable is important. According to the Princeton Review, at least one in three students will transfer institutions at least once before graduation. One of the best ways for administrators to keep students happy is to invest in improving the critical issues they're concerned with.

At several different points of contact, students end up standing in long lines, wasting valuable hours of their day. Whether it is for counseling or registrar offices, retail areas, health centers, or any other high-traffic area on campus, students find themselves waiting in long physical queues that are frustrating and no longer necessary.

While a long, drawn-out queue seems like a cost of business, there are other options available for colleges and universities to significantly streamline the process. Virtual queue management is an innovation that is being implemented in colleges, government offices, medical businesses, and other industries around the world, and it has a major role to play in the future of education.

The virtual queue process completely changes how people wait in line, drastically improving the customer experience. Virtual queues allow customers to check-in from any location on their phone, see wait times, and communicate with staff members without the need for in-person interaction. It gives customers the ability to get the most out of their time and reduces the confusion of waiting in a long, unexplained line.

For colleges, virtual queues will effectively streamline your customer flow. They’ll make your day-to-day much simpler by increasing the efficiency of the line. Customers will know their wait times in advance, meaning businesses will get to deal wit3h less frustrated clients. As well, college staff will have an enhanced sense of the number of students waiting for them and be able to communicate key messages to individuals or the entire lineup.

When it comes to virtual queuing, the name to know is QLess. QLess is an all-in-one queue management software that helps businesses across industries more effectively accommodate customers, reduce wait times and line frustration, and streamline operations for a higher functioning business.

Let's explore the advantages virtual queuing offers in the higher education industry and how it can help colleges and universities improve their processes and change the customer experience.

>Improve the Student Experience

For a successful higher ed institution, the student experience should be paramount. But giving your current students the best possible experience when interacting with in-person parts of the campus is not an easy thing. Many schools tend to have high student populations and lack the staff, or the organizing technology to handle the high-volume customer flows that some areas of the campus will face. This leaves students trying to navigate a congested bureaucracy with long wait times that can leave them feeling bitter.

The student experience is a comprehensive thing. While the goal of higher education is to educate and develop, student expectations go far beyond lectures in the current era. Students want to feel heard, they want their pain points addressed, and they want a technology-oriented experience that aligns with their digital tendencies. According to Review42, 98% of Gen Z in America, the primary college-aged generation, own a smartphone. Digitalization and virtual solutions are key ways to appeal to them.

Virtual queuing systems align with students' desire to utilize technology to improve their overall experience. Virtual queuing systems can drastically reduce the wait times your students face at campus bookstores, advisement appointments, health centers, and more. According to QLess, the use of QLess’ virtual queue management software can increase student satisfaction by 75% and decrease long lines and wait times by 97%.

The benefit of improving the student experience is obvious for universities and colleges. The happier students are, the more likely they will stick around at the school and share their enjoyment on social media or through word-of-mouth marketing. Prioritizing the customer experience is always a good idea for any business. According to Forbes, there is an 80% growth in revenue for companies that focus on the customer experience compared to ones that don’t.

How exactly does a virtual queue improve the customer's time spent waiting in line? It is simple. Waiting in line is known to be a stressful and arduous experience. There is a relatively expansive field of psychology that explores the line waiting process, and some of the findings show the advantages virtual queues have.

According to a study by David Maister, one of the leading queue psychologists, there are common pain points to waiting in line, many of which are fixed with a virtual queue. For example, unknown wait times feel longer than known, finite wait times. Virtual queues show wait times, helping customers have a clearer sense of what’s going on. This reduces anxiety, which helps with another one of Maister’s key takeaways: anxiety makes lines feel longer. By reducing customers' wait times, providing them with open communication about their wait times, and taking the stress out of the queue process, the student experience is drastically improved.

Queue management educational software, such as QLess, is an important feature that can help universities and colleges provide a better experience for their students throughout the campus. Taking the necessary steps to provide the best possible process for your lines will show students the school is dedicated to fixing the problems that ail the students, boosting customer loyalty.

Customize Your Queue Management Across Departments

There are many different services universities provide. The requirements for waiting in line and scheduling appointments for them will be different for each of them. Having a line system that isn’t customizable to the needs of each office doesn’t make sense in a university and college setting. When using a queue management software solution, making sure it can accommodate the varying demands of your operation is an important consideration. Counseling offices, the admissions office, and other departments are all going to have different needs.

QLess is a queue management software that allows schools to segment and categorize students to better help them. For example, schools can organize their students into categories like "new students" to accommodate all the incoming freshmen or transfers that will need a lot more guidance and appointments in the first few weeks.

If students are categorized, the experience can be better customized to the individual needs of each student and department. Students can be sorted based on priority, giving lines and appointment scheduling a much more significant structure. With things like a virtual queue enrollment, which could be segmented based on different criteria, such as credits taken and priority, the line can have a more organized and natural flow that makes employees' like advisors and administrators' jobs much more manageable.

It is never going to be one-size-fits-all in a university setting. The typical campus is too diverse and dynamic to have any solution that cannot be customized. There are a variety of students who may need accommodations, such as special education students or students with disabilities. Knowing ahead of appointment time that students might need additional assistance is a great way to be prepared to help all communities within the student population.

Queue management software makes the line much more personal, providing critical information to staff that will allow them to customize the experience. A more customized process is a more organized one, improving a school's capacity to take on customers. This leads to a higher number of students being accommodated within the way that best fits them.

A virtual queue helps with customer assignments, putting students in the right place at the right time. This leads to a faster and more effective process across the board and a higher capacity to handle students. The ability of a virtual solution to adapt to the diverse needs of your school should be a defining factor in the selection process, and QLess can be customized to fit the various requirements of academic offices and the students they work with.

Create a More Efficient Administrative System

The goal of any administrative system is efficiency. The ability to handle a high volume of customers with a high rate of customer satisfaction sets apart a good administrative process from a bad one. Many university systems fall short in this area, with lots of red tape, bureaucracy, and waiting time for students, making it more difficult on staff. What the virtual queue opportunity provides is a way to create a much more straightforward and effective system.

What sets virtual queues apart isn’t just the ability to see where specific students and types of students are in the queue process. The ability to communicate with customers and mine these virtual solutions for critical information is also a unique advantage that they provide.

For businesses, the ability to communicate effectively with customers is extremely important. This is all the more important with schools, where the relationship with students is more intimate than the typical business-customer relationship. According to Project.co, 96% of people feel the businesses they deal with could improve in terms of communication. But communication has changed drastically, and finding the right ways to communicate with the students you are dealing with is essential.

The conventional customer communication methods such as phone calls might no longer be preferred by the primary customers universities will be dealing with. According to data from Nextiva, 57% of customers would rather contact businesses through digital media than use voice-based customer support.

QLess offers schools a way to communicate effectively with students through a two-way digital media chat feature. They can send custom messages to individual clients, receive important updates, or broadcast messages to the entire group of students within a queue. In turn, students can message staff, ask questions, and have an increased presence in the process. This type of two-way communication will go a long way towards improving the line experience while also providing administrators with updates that can improve how their system operates.

There is also a lot that administrators and staff can learn about their business from a virtual queuing system like QLess. These systems track different aspects of your line process, such as wait times, the number of virtual customers accommodated, and more. This can help give schools key business intelligence data that can help them improve their distribution time.

The more you know about how your school's operations are working, the better you can improve them. Being guided by data is a meaningful way to successfully improve processes, and QLess allows schools to quantify something that would’ve been very difficult to quantify in the past. QLess tracks a vast variety of metrics that will show you the areas of strength and weakness for each of your academic offices. These metrics include average wait time, transaction time, no-show percentage, customers served, and more.

This data helps schools create more intelligent operations by identifying the flaws of their systems in place. Business intelligence is a core part of how a school or company can learn and grow. According to a Statista survey, 79% of businesses agree that data is an essential part of their strategy. A Deloitte study showed that 84% of companies surveyed found that analytics improved their competitive position, with 25% saying it significantly improved.

QLess and virtual queue software open up communication with students and provide schools with crucial data that can show them what is working in their academic offices and what isn't. Seeing the difference across departments will also help schools identify the specific areas that are not providing students with the quality of help they deserve. With better communication with students and high-quality data, schools can create a much more efficient administrative system.

Accommodate a Socially Distanced Campus

Universities have had to undergo some major changes since the beginning of 2020 due to COVID-19. When the pandemic struck North America midway through the spring semester of 2020, campuses emptied. It took well over a year for them to return to in-person college classes, and in many parts of the continent, they still haven't fully. The average campus is still not the same as it was, and administrators have both a legal and moral responsibility to do what they can to accommodate students and staff still concerned about the pandemic and social distancing in schools.

There are likely many students on every campus still reeling from the shock and fear of the pandemic. It was an isolating time for students, who were pulled away from their education and forced to adjust on the fly. In return to campus, many students were fearful, but many others were careless, and it led to significant outbreaks at several schools. A New York Times report showed that Clemson University, Pennsylvania State, and the University of Wisconsin each had over 5,000 cases.

This isn't just a public relations nightmare for universities, it is a significant legal and health hazard, and it marks a complete failure to protect students. The fact is, students want their schools to take public health measures to protect them from COVID. According to an Axios poll, 73% of students support a vaccine mandate for students to be on campus, while a TimelyMD survey found 87% of students were in favor of a mask mandate.

Students want schools to take the necessary steps to protect them from campus outbreaks. In a traditional standby queue in areas like a health or student center, students will be in close range of each other in an indoor environment even when socially distanced. Indoor mask requirements help with this, but it can still be an anxiety-inducing experience for students to be in a congested indoor environment with many other people.

QLess and virtual queuing take the anxiety out of this situation while greatly improving schools' daily distribution times. Students no longer need to wait at an in-person line for service with QLess. They can check-in to the queue from wherever they are, watch the display boards on their devices, wait until they are called for their scheduled appointment, and head to the front line. This service makes campus buildings significantly more COVID-safe, which is something students and staff are sure to appreciate.

QLess and virtual queuing reduce the need for schools to have physical lines. At a time where universities and colleges are still having to deal with the ripple effects of a year that took a significant toll on students' mental health, taking necessary extra steps to ease students' minds is important. The typical student wants their higher education institutions to be proactive in the measures they take to prevent an outbreak and socially distance the campus. QLess is a perfect way to do that.

Campus Case Studies

The use of virtual queue management systems on campus is something schools across the country are starting to embrace. In both America and Canada, higher education institutions like York University, Santa Monica College, and the University of British Columbia have implemented QLess to improve their operations. Some institutions with massive student populations have managed to see the positive difference QLess can make in helping remove congestion and create smarter operations.

Let's take a quick look at two institutions utilizing QLess to streamline their appointment and queue processes. Learn more about Texas A&M University's queue management system and Southern Alberta Institute of Technology's call-back queue system.

Texas A&M University

Texas A&M is a massive sprawl of a campus, the biggest in the state. It has a student population nearing 70,000. It is a busy, populated school home to an enormous student body, and it can be confusing to navigate this for a new student. Luckily, Texas A&M has implemented QLess to help better manage a rising student population. Texas A&M’s primary goal was to implement QLess to help streamline in-person and on-the-phone advisement.

Students were previously faced with hours-long waits for advisement meetings, eating a big chunk out of their day. The results of QLess have been promising at this school. Students can now wait in virtual queues, stay on top of their spot in line, and go about their day until appointment. "With QLess, we've found efficiencies and ways to become more effective in our offices,” said Nicholas Kilmer, Assistant Director of the Money Education Center. “Transitions are never easy; I can definitely say that on the other end of this transition, we're immensely better off."

Southern Alberta Institute of Technology

The Southern Alberta Institute of Technology is a polytechnic institution with a large student body of over 50,000 full and part-time students. With multiple campuses located in Calgary, Alberta, one of Canada's biggest cities, it is a busy school with many different student demands. The academic Office of the Registrar faced a strenuous workload, experiencing 100-150 calls a day from students. This got worse when the pandemic hit, with calls from students and prospective students increasing 47%, and the staff was increasingly fighting uphill to satisfy student demands. To combat this, they integrated with the QLess virtual callback systems.

The QLess virtual callback queue had an immediate impact on lightening staff’s workload and automatically filtering calls, so staff only received the calls that were relevant to their specific specialization. “The experience has been fantastic,” said Scott Robinson, Associate Registrar. “The staff loves it, and the students are no longer complaining about the length of the wait times." The pandemic had a significant impact on schools' ability to interact with students and cater to their needs. Digital solutions like QLess helped institutes asynchronously manage the desires of their student body.

Improve Your School with Virtual Queuing

The student experience is dependent on the institution that students attend. Every school needs to have students to function, but schools place varying levels of emphasis on catering campus life to the desires of the students that populate their halls. The modern student is tech-savvy and wants the institution they attend to reflect their interest in technology. Digital solutions that improve the day-to-day experience of interacting with university departments are fundamental to ensuring student satisfaction.

QLess, and virtual queuing overall, are game-changers for universities and colleges. They help schools create more intelligent operations informed by data that reduce the need to wait in physical student lines. They create a mutually beneficial, more effective way to handle appointments, which is essential for schools with large student bodies with conflicting demands. Both staff and students can see the benefits of integration.

QLess is customizable and tailored to higher education institutes' varying needs. It opens better communication with students and provides pivotal insights that can shape how processes are conducted. QLess also dramatically improves the student experience of waiting in line and is perfect for the socially distanced campus.

QLess is a virtual resource that modernizes departments and frees time up for staff and students, helping both optimize their day-to-day. If your higher education institute is looking to transform your operations to give students and administrators the best experience possible, QLess and virtual queue management is the game-changing solution you're looking for.

To see first-hand what QLess can do for your higher education institute, contact us today to schedule a demo.