Most customers expect that waiting will account for at least a small part of their in-person shopping experience. Whether they have to stand in line behind other people or hang on for their credit card to be processed, waiting comes with the territory. However, this traditional transaction experience has become less necessary as online sales proliferate.
If you're looking for ways to elevate the experience for consumers and build loyalty with a key demographic, customer queue management systems can be a positive asset for your organization.
The Psychology of Waiting
Business owners and managers can sometimes feel as though the demands of customers are difficult to manage traditionally when it comes to waiting.
In an age where you can get everything immediately, our collective patience has dropped considerably. Business owners can take some comfort, though, in the midst of the chaos. Even as customers' expectations continue to evolve, businesses are not being asked for perfection. Customers welcome business innovation, especially when it elevates the retail experience.
Instead of focusing on getting everything right, you should focus on perception. You can have all of the technical details down pat, but it's really what a customer thinks about you that matters. This is why you'll often hear hold music when you call a company that can't get someone to you immediately. The customer has something to think about other than how many minutes are ticking by. Even passive activities will make people perceive time differently than a customer who's doing nothing.
When it comes to people waiting in person, you should aim to minimize the formation of a traditional, undefine, or unmanaged line. 72% of customers say that the most important thing a business can do is value their time. In addition to potential safety hazards, long waits cause friction between your brand and the customer. Customers will instantly get the impression that their physical and mental comfort is of little importance to the company.
What About the Principles Behind Anticipation?
When you're evaluating the psychology behind waiting and determining whether to abolish a traditional queue, you might reasonably wonder how this will affect the perceptions of other people.
After all, a long line sends a message that your product or service is more important than anything else people might be doing, which can generate increased interest in your business.
This train of thought can quickly become problematic, though. While some consumers might get excited about a long line, others might think that your business is inefficient. They might think that whatever you're offering isn't worth waiting for indefinitely.
An effective customer queue management system will help customers disperse while they wait, but this won't necessarily give the public the impression that there's "nothing to see". In fact, it's an organic way to get customers talking. A friend might tell someone that they were able to virtually sign into a line via their smartphone. Ultimately, the customer appreciates an increased degree of choice over how they spend their time in a virtual queue. This can be invaluable when it comes to whether they choose to visit a business again.
Maybe they sign in at the store, and use the extra time to browse your establishment's offerings a little more. This gives them the chance to make impulse purchases or ask an associate for their advice. This way, they learn more about what you can offer them and how your staff can be a huge help in the process.
Queue management systems that combine digital and physical experiences aren't new by any stretch of the imagination. Delis have been using rudimentary number systems for years. As customers crowd around the counter, the clerks don't have to worry about who got there first. This traditional system has aided in getting rid of the anxiety of waiting in line from both perspectives. Customers don't have to fight to be heard, while employees don't have to actively manage customer queues.
In a computerized management system, consumers can put their name down in a digital kiosk at the front of the business, where an employee will be immediately alerted of their presence. With the right setup, customers can be recognized as an individual.
Customers can also input information about what they're looking for, giving the business a simple way to match them up with an employee who can help. This further sets employees up for success, as they have an understanding of why someone is there and can develop the most successful strategy.
Implementing the Right Customer Queue Management System
The most effective queue management system will come down to what you offer and who your customers are. Logistical and atmospheric conditions can also help to determine what type of queue management system will work collaboratively in a physical space. Some people may want seating options while they wait, so they can relax. Giving them a little extra space (and perhaps Wi-Fi) can go a long way to help people have a positive association with your business.
A large portion of queue management relies on having the right communication skills. By proactively giving consumers information up, you can alleviate many consumer-related concerns or questions. Concise and realistic expectation setting, easily established via a virtual queuing system, can elevate a shopping experience. Telling a customer that they're only going to wait 5 minutes is more reassuring than telling them you'll be with them when you have a chance.
A good management system can also provide business owners with useful data about how long customers are waiting, and whether there are certain obstructions that could be removed to improve their experience. This can help you decide whether to hire another staff member or implement a smarter payment system.
For additional information about how customer management systems can elevate shopping experiences, visit our Queueing System page.
Andreas is Founder and CEO of Ombori. He is a serial entrepreneur who has founded several companies, starting in his teens. He has a background in cybersecurity, and has worked for companies such as H&M and Nordnet Bank. Andreas is a passionate believer in digital transformation, and is constantly seeking ways in which technology can change the way we work, shop, and live our lives.