Implement A Smarter Queue During The Pandemic [Key Considerations]

Implement A Smarter Queue During The Pandemic [Key Considerations]

6 Feb 2023

The new normal. A new reality. Challenging times.

If you got a penny each time someone used a euphemism like that for the pandemic, you could be quarantined in a beach house right now.

Adaptation is the name of the game. People have scrambled to reorganize their livelihoods while businesses adjust to continue serving their customers as well as they can with the lowest possible risk.

People need services, but COVID-19 has called into question a fundamental part of the business: queueing. In-person services like retail or personal services report a worse chance of riding out the pandemic than other businesses.

Sure, socially distanced lines still extend from polling stations and grocery stores. All the same, a highly infectious disease is a good enough reason for businesses to start thinking about how to develop a better queue approach.

Every good business wants to keep customers safe and happy. Getting smart about queues is a great way to do that.

What is Smarter Queue?

Most people are familiar with the experience of standing in line. You join a queue and shuffle forward in time, waiting for your turn to be serviced.

Of course, nobody enjoys waiting in line. At best it’s a minor inconvenience, at worst you’re wasting hours of time. Customers tend to overestimate time spent in a queue by 36%, which means it’s in a company’s best interest to make sure people aren’t waiting too long for service.

With coronavirus as a new risk, even fewer people will probably want to wait in line. That’s where smarter queues come in.

A smarter queue tool is a queue management system that not only lets you organize your customers via a digital queue process but also helps you improve your performance over time.

Examples of smarter queue features may include:

  • Online calendar display and booking
  • Real-time queue management
  • Data reporting/analytics
  • Customer feedback collection

These solutions are often cloud-based, making them easy to sync across devices. No matter whether you’d rather have an on-site kiosk or a calendar app on your customer’s phone, a smarter queue solution has you covered.

Why Use Smarter Queue Technology?

why-use-smarter-queue-technology

Upgrading your queueing solution may not seem like the best idea, especially with tightening budgets during the coronavirus pandemic. But increased customer service quality combined with higher safety levels is a great argument in favor of switching over to virtual tools.

Here are four reasons to consider smarter queue solutions over in-person queueing:

  1. Clean and safe. Virtual solutions are contactless, meaning customers don’t have to risk contamination when doing business with you.
  2. Save money. Customers schedule and maintain their own appointments. Save time and money dealing with customer service issues.
  3. Transparency. Publishing a calendar with availability online means your clients only show up when you’re ready for them and don’t spend extra travel time.
  4. Less idle time. Assign order to your queues virtually so customers don’t have to wait on-site.

In almost every way, online queueing is better for both customers and companies than in-person queueing not just during the pandemic, but all the time. Compare them for yourself:

 In-Person QueueingSmarter Queue
Contamination RiskModerateLow
Customer Service Time SpentScheduling appointments, checking in on-site, tending to waiting customersAutomated online booking, info available via submittable form, spend more time on real service than admin
Customer ExperienceLong wait time/uncertaintyAlmost no waiting, quick and transparent service
Time Spent on No-ShowsSame as regular appointmentsNone

At the end of the day, your customers want convenience, safety, and fantastic service. They are the ones who will be happy to see you implement a smarter queue service to keep them safe during COVID-19. But how do you go about doing it?

9 Factors to Consider When Picking Your Smarter Queue Software

Picking out a queueing solution will make queueing better for both you and your customers during the pandemic.

But if you’ve tried doing research on queue management systems, you’ll immediately realize how many options there are. Different options based on industry, functionality, customization, and a thousand factors you may or may not have ever considered before. What really counts when it comes to picking the right queueing technology for you?

  • Industry
  • Flexibility
  • Design
  • Reporting/Data Visibility
  • Scalability
  • Integration Capabilities
  • Implementation
  • Price
  • Customer Support

1. Industry

implement a smarter queue, Implement A Smarter Queue During The Pandemic [Key Considerations], Skiplino

Different industries have different needs. For example, a hotel would need advance booking, room selection, plus full online payment options.

Visitors would likely appreciate lobby kiosks for checking in upon arrival and checking out when they’re departing, and also to provide them with information about the hotel. Multiple kiosks that thin down each individual queue isn’t just better for social distancing, but also is less stressful for customers.

Think about what industry you’re in, and how that might determine what you need from a queueing solution. Here are some questions you might ask yourself:

  • What services do you provide queuing to customers now?
  • Which employees work directly with customers? What do they need?
  • How many locations do you have? How centralized/customized would you like your customer’s experience to be?
  • What kind of technology integration would you need for your industry?
  • How large a scale would your queue management system work at?

An international airport has very different queue management needs than a local motel chain. Take time to figure out what industry-specific features might help you succeed before picking a smarter queue solution.

2. Flexibility

What’s better than picking a solution with every single feature carefully crafted to your current business model? Flexibility.

Customers change. Businesses evolve. You don’t want a queue management system so rigid that you can’t curate or tweak anything as your company grows.

Does your solution have functions or features that can be used in multiple ways? Can it adapt to different employees, different usage styles? Is it possible your customers might reschedule or change their appointments? How about your employees swapping out shifts? Is it cloud-based to allow you to manage your appointments from any device or location?

Depending on how your business services customers, the queue management solution you pick should also be able to deal with those possibilities.

The best kind of smarter queue tool eliminates the wait and streamlines communication, no matter what that looks like for your clients.

During a pandemic, the need for flexibility is even more evident. In the past customers may have been content to wait in a line or use kiosks for something as simple as renting a car, whereas now they might want a touchless curbside pickup.

To fit their needs, a queue management system should work across devices, browsers, and platforms. It will make your life easier in the long run.

3. Design

Yes, the look and feel of a smarter queue solution does matter. Businesses that place an emphasis on design in branding outperformed on the Financial Times Stock Exchange by 200%.

Your solution needs to be easy-to-use for employees and customers alike.

Good design for employees means:

  • Clean backend user interface
  • Understandable data analytics
  • Real-time shift scheduling 
  • Employee/customer calendar display

At a glance, your employees should be able to tell what exactly they’re supposed to do, which customers they are serving, and enough information to prepare for each appointment.

Customers also need a clear, understandable user interface. Branded customization can go a long way toward presenting a consistent brand identity. Integrating your brand colors, logo, and personalized messaging shows customers what is special about you.

A solution with a sleek look and feel shows your professionalism and elevates your customer service.

4. Reporting/Data Visibility

implement a smarter queue, Implement A Smarter Queue During The Pandemic [Key Considerations], Skiplino

A smarter queue should live up to its name. Data reporting tools are what help businesses improve their queueing.

When your customers line up in-person, it’s almost impossible to track their experience. Converting the queue to an online process makes it possible for you to collect data on customers, wait time, and quality of service from your side.

You’ll be able to complete five important tasks with ease:

  1. Learn about your clients. Gather customer data via surveys/forms and observe their behavior in-queue.
  2. Real-time monitoring and responses. Set up protocol responses for certain types of situations (e.g. customers have been delayed) to maintain quality customer service.
  3. Optimize employee workflow. Study your staff’s strengths and weaknesses, assigning them work to boost overall team productivity.
  4. Tailor your service. Finding out about typical customer preferences will help you adjust how you treat them.
  5. Track performance over time and by each employee. Give your workers feedback based on highly detailed metrics.

Finding patterns in how your customers tend to behave will leave you better equipped to handle day-to-day business needs. For example, knowing that you’ll receive more traffic on Wednesday afternoons can help you assign more available staff to that specific shift, making sure all customers receive great customer service when they show up.

Of course, data-based insight is only the first step toward identifying areas for improvement. You’ll need to establish a structure for reviewing performance data and commit to actually tweaking your business according to what you’re learning. It’s challenging work, but in the long run, you’ll benefit from the consistent improvement.

5. Scalability

Every business owner loves sustainable growth. It means your business is booming, that customers appreciate what you have to offer, and that you’re just doing a great job at meeting people’s needs.

But expansion isn’t without its headaches. You have to make decisions on dealing with more customers, higher demand. When companies expand, they have to start thinking about:

  • Hiring new employees
  • Expanding/replacing a physical location
  • Buying new hardware
  • Deploying software on a larger scale

All of these are challenging, especially in the middle of a pandemic when moving is difficult and profits remain tight.

With a quality smarter queue solution, you won’t have to worry about spending additional capital on expansion. Cloud-based solutions either scale alongside your team or are available to you with a simple subscription upgrade.

In fact, scaling is a great opportunity for your team to look into cloud-based queue management. Your customers will be able to queue up with the same efficiency as always without your team expending additional effort.

When you don’t have to spend on adding people or machines to tend to customers, you can focus on actually scaling the parts of your business that make your company unique.

6. Integration Capabilities

Smarter queue tools wouldn’t be smart if they weren’t able to fully integrate with other tools your team may be using. When looking for a solution that’s right for you, you need to keep in mind what other technology needs to be integrated into your queue management system.

For example, some airline companies use barcodes on their boarding passes so customers can check-in via their phones. If your airline uses barcodes for mobile check-in, you want to make sure you can integrate this into your smarter queue solution – so passengers can check in to your queueing system via their smartphone. Making customers go to a physical help desk when the mobile function is designed to help them avoid human contact just defeats the purpose.

implement a smarter queue, Implement A Smarter Queue During The Pandemic [Key Considerations], Skiplino

Making sure customers can access your virtual queues through any platform is crucial to providing on-the-go, convenient access to your average customer. 50% of people said that even if they liked a business, they were not likely to frequent them again if the site was not mobile-friendly.

Having a mobile-friendly interface that integrates easily into your customer’s platform of choice will encourage them to pick you over your competitors. During a pandemic, customers might not be able to experience your service as usual. Just letting them use their apps or services of choice goes a long way toward being customer-friendly.

Other than that, you need to take into consideration where your customers keep their timetables. Integration into common calendar apps such as Google or Outlook will help your customers stay connected with your business.

The key to creating an intuitive user experience isn’t picking the platform with the greatest all-in-one functionality. It’s about making sure users are comfortable fitting what you provide them into what they already have. 

So look into how your users and employees plan around queueing now to give them the best queue management experience for the future.

7. Implementation

implement a smarter queue, Implement A Smarter Queue During The Pandemic [Key Considerations], Skiplino

Transitioning from a physical queue to virtual queueing can be a big leap. You don’t want a system that’s extremely challenging to install or download.

Here are five steps to setting up a smarter queue at your locations:

  1. Plan how it works. Layout the queueing process before you start getting into implementation. How do you want the check-in to flow? What are your touchpoints for customers?
  2. Figure out hardware. Do you need to buy kiosks? Scanners? Set up a budget and scale accordingly. You want to have the bandwidth for devices you need.
  3. Check-in with your staff. Your team are the ones who will be interfacing with queue management. What is their feedback on the solution? How will they use it? Do they need training? Other supporting technologies?
  4. Test run. Don’t let customers use your newly established queueing system without testing it out internally first. You don’t want to lose business due to mishaps in the system because you’re unfamiliar with how to use it.
  5. Stay vigilant. Monitor customer and employee experience to make sure the queueing experience is working for everyone. There will always be space for improvement.

Getting buy-in from your employees is a step that can’t be overlooked. You want them to be confident in the solution you’ve chosen because they’ll be the ones using it daily when dealing with customers.

The implementation may seem extra challenging during coronavirus, due to social distancing restrictions. Pick a system that helps your employees help your customers, even from a distance.

8. Price

While finding a smarter queue tool with a thousand different features and functionalities may sound appealing, pricing is a very real consideration for most companies. During a pandemic, spending more on a virtual solution may seem even more daunting.

What is a smarter queue going to cost you on average? If you’re an individual or own a small business, you might be able to find something for free or a few bucks per month. But for a larger team with technically complex demands, solutions run anywhere from $20/month to $1000+/month.

There’s no hard-and-fast rule when it comes to pricing. Think carefully about what you need and what you’re willing to pay for. Certain features may just be nice to have, while others are at the core of why you’re looking for a smarter queue tool in the first place.

If budget is a problem, prioritize what you need at the moment. Perhaps consider finding a solution you can pay little to nothing on, for a low-level plan but have the option to upgrade in the future. Or stay extra vigilant for a QMS product catered for SME or less complicated business models.

And of course, pricing isn’t everything. Free queueing solutions may seem tempting, but at the end of the day paying a little bit more for a higher quality customer experience will pay dividends for your business in the long run.

9. Customer Support

smart-queue-system-customer-support

Sure, a smarter queue solution may help you upgrade your own customer service. But without a strong customer support team backing up whatever product you choose, you won’t be able to achieve your full potential. Even if it has the best functionality in the world.

Most queue management systems are at least somewhat complex to set up. And no system in the world is perfect. Before committing to a specific solution, do some research and find out how helpful the customer support team is.

You might need help with:

  • Bugs and troubleshooting
  • Transition periods
  • Software/app integration
  • Best practices

Do they have a forum? A help desk? Are they available via a hotline or messaging? Have they adjusted their approach to helping customers during the pandemic? Are they still accessible?

How responsive and helpful the customer support team is will speak volumes about the company’s own attitude toward customer service. Sometimes it can be the make or break issue for a queue management software. For example, here at Skiplino, we offer 24/7 live chat support.

Find a customer support team that will support your own as you delve into transitioning to smarter queue service.

Picking the right smarter queue tool may seem challenging, but it’s really just a matter of breaking down what matters most to you and prioritizing those options. Here’s a quick table guide to optimizing your options:

 Do pick:Don’t pick:
IndustryIndustry-specific functionalitiesFunctionality too general if it’s not helpful for your industry
Flexibility Adaptable to different employees/customers, single functionality can be used in multiple waysLimited utility, not adaptable to different types of users/habits
DesignClean, customizable interfaceCluttered, non-customizable design
Reporting/Data VisibilityMultiple options for data reporting, displays findings clearlyLimited data tracking for categories important to your business, confusing data display
ScalabilityScale simply by adding more users or upgrading subscriptionProhibitively expensive subscription upgrade or requires too much hardware/personnel to upgrade
Integration CapabilitiesBusiness/industry-friendly integration optionsLack of integration or non-functioning integration capabilities requires too much effort on the customer side
ImplementationImplementation-friendly with download, or easily installable with hardwareToo challenging for you or employees to implement
PriceReasonable for the functionality and features you needProhibitive for your business’ expansion
Customer SupportAvailable, friendly, knowledgeableUnavailable, rude, neglectful

Conclusion

For all the platitudes and well wishes you’re getting used to seeing, the pandemic is challenging businesses to find new ways to serve their customers. It may be a setback in many ways, but it’s an opportunity in many others, giving companies a chance to implement new queueing solutions for a better service.

Looking for a discount on smarter queue solutions? Try out Skiplino with a smarter queue free trial here.

Latest

5 Ways Service Scheduler Software Can Optimize Your Time

5 Ways Service Scheduler Software Can Optimize Your Time

We’re going to begin this article with a bold, yet [...]

Streamlining Student Services: How Skiplino Enhances Efficiency in Education Institutions

Streamlining Student Services: How Skiplino Enhances Efficiency in Education Institutions

Revolutionizing Student Experiences Through Intelligent Queuing In the fast-paced world [...]

The Benefits of Skiplino’s Advanced Analytics for Business Optimization 

The Benefits of Skiplino’s Advanced Analytics for Business Optimization 

In an era driven by data, businesses need powerful tools [...]

Similar Reads

Mastering Queue Management

Mastering Queue Management

In today’s fast-paced world, time is a precious commodity, and [...]

The importance of queue management systems

The importance of queue management systems

Discover how queue management systems can enhance efficiency, streamline the [...]

Unparalleled Queue Management: Skiplino’s Distinctive Role

Unparalleled Queue Management: Skiplino’s Distinctive Role

In today’s fast-paced world, where time is of the essence, [...]