There is nothing as irritating to me as standing in a queue of a retail store, longer than my patience can handle - and hearing someone shout "NEXT!". I guess it stems from the reminder I get that I am just another customer - nothing special - and that I am being 'processed' along....
But then I walk into a store where a friendly staff member greets me, enquires what my need is and hands me a ticket with a number on. I sit down in a warm and relaxed waiting area where I sit and go through my latest Twitter and Facebook updates and there it is, my number being called out on a screen without making me feel 'processed' and I am off to do my business and head home.
One of these above mentioned stores will see me again, the other one...not so much. Can you guess which one it is?
Poor queue management can signal the beginning of the end of a sales opportunity or client retention. But effective queue management can benefit both retailers and their customers. Electronic queuing systems can reduce walkaways by up to 96% and help eliminate queue frustrations by serving clients in the order they arrive, thereby improving service times by 30%. This translates into shorter waiting times for customers, which makes them more relaxed and more open to impulse sales.
The checkout line might be the most crucial part in the customer's retail experience, and one should never assume the sale is automatically won once the customer steps into the checkout line. They could just as easily put their purchases down and walk out of the store because of the queue...
With 38% of customers (of which I am one) saying they would consider not returning to a store with long or badly managed lines, 51% of customers said they will actually leave a store just because of the length of the queue in checkout. This shows how important it is for any retailer to ensure a satisfied customer experience all the way from the walk-in till the sale is closed and the customer leaves the store.
Of course there are many ways for retailers to manage their queues but the two most common approaches are:
- Call-forwarding Queuing - this visual calling system helps guide customers out of a linear queue to the next available counter when the agent triggers their station button. This will prompt a display at the front of the queue showing the customer where to go, streamlining the process - without shouting "NEXT!" Global Access's IQ system is perfect for this type of queue management as retailers can even use the display screen to advertise products and services in between queuing prompts while customers wait in queue, helping reduce perceived waiting times by up to 40%.
- Hosted queue management - takes the line out of waiting, reducing perceived and actual wait times. The system works on the principle of a numbered ticket being issued to the customer as they walk into the store via a designated kiosk. They can then browse or shop around until their ticket number is called on the display screen.
Other information such as marketing and promotional information can be displayed on the screens at the same time, thereby engaging with the customer in order to entice purchases as well as entertain the customer while they wait.
Global Access's AutoQ system is ideal for this purpose and offers a variety of real-time reporting functions that assists the retailer to manage and change their agents to accommodate the needs of customers at that specific time in order to better manage the workflow.
Businesses searching for new ways to strengthen customer retention will find great benefits in technologies for queue management and direct in-store customer communications.
There are three main points for retailers to keep in mind:
- When customers are secure about the fairness of their wait, they tend to relax, which in turn makes the waiting experience more pleasant for them
- The more effective and quicker queue flow can be managed, the more customers will 'feel' waiting times are less
- Emotions play a massive role in a customer's ability to endure extended wait times. This could be eased up by maximising brand touch points, such as a screen at the end of the queue, that can shift their focus off the length of their wait into an extended shopping opportunity.
At Global Access we have over 20 years' experience in digital signage solutions with some of the most powerful queue management solutions in the world. Call us today and let us assist you as a retailer to proactively address your customers' needs in order to improve your bottom line and make sure your customers have a great shopping experience.