Most government offices around the world are faced with the twin challenges of strained resources and outdated systems. Combined, these two problems often cause inefficient operation and service delivery, which is reflected in the long wait times that customers have to face when dealing with public agencies.
In the current environment where everyone is advised to maintain distance from each other, avoiding crowded waiting rooms and long wait times is a high priority, not just for comfort but for the safety of customers and staff as well. As offices reopen, service providers need to make sure that their waiting area is clear, and reducing wait times is a great step in that direction.
Here are some solutions that can be used to reduce wait times in government offices and public agencies.
Use appointment booking
Having the ability to book appointments helps customers avoid long waiting times, which considerably reduces the crowd in the waiting area. With an appointment booking system, customers can choose the time that suits them best, and schedule their arrival close to their appointment. This will also help with managing customer flow and optimizing resource allocation in advance.
Check-in or registration upon arrival is one of the areas that can create bottlenecks. By enabling customers to do self check-in, you can speed up the process and also allocate your staff to other areas where their expertise is needed.
Use mobile ticket for virtual queuing
For walk-in customers, you can provide virtual queuing solutions. After checking in, with a mobile ticket, customers can wait somewhere else outside the waiting area. While waiting remotely, they can monitor the queue progress on their phone, and get a notification when it’s their turn to get served. Having the ability to wait somewhere else and keep updated will shorten the perceived wait time.
Categorize customers based on the services they need
Some services can be done in a short time, while others may take longer. If you provide several types of service, sorting your customers early on is a good way to increase operational efficiency, and in turn, reduce wait times.
For appointment customers, sorting can be done automatically in the booking, where they are automatically categorized based on the service they choose. For walk-in customers, this can be done when they check in. Having this information in advance will also help to prepare your staff and set the expectation for the day.
Keep customers informed with reminders and notifications
Late arrivals can cause problems and potentially longer wait times for the next customers, so keep customers updated regularly with reminders and notification. For appointment customers, this is also important to avoid no-shows.
Monitor performance in real time
By using an operation panel, you can get insights on performance in real time which allows you to adapt to changing circumstances. You can set up notifications when certain limits are exceeded, for example if the wait time is longer than a certain time, or if the number of customers exceeds a certain limit. This information can help you respond instantly to events and keep the waiting times low. For example, you may decide to open another counter, or move staff members from a quiet area to areas that needs them more.
Analyze the historical data
With any system there is room for improvement. As well as getting insights on the live situation, it’s also important to analyze historical data with business intelligence tools to see areas that might need improvement. By doing this, you can recognize if there are patterns and make plans accordingly. For example, a particular service might be busier during certain days, or there may be a peak flow at a certain time of day. Having these insights will allow you to plan staff allocation or service availability in advance to optimize the service delivery.
These are some of the ways to reduce wait times in government offices and public agencies. To read more about how you can minimize wait times while also maintaining social distancing during this current situation, download this free virtual queuing guide for public sector.