How to Solve Queuing Problems

How to Solve Queuing Problems

Henk Varkevisser |January 8 2020 5 min

A crucial factor in solving a queuing problem is managing the customer's perceived service level. In this article, I'll go through my definition of a queuing problem and how to solve it by improving the customer's waiting experience. 

Solving queuing problems should be a top priority of any service provider. By ensuring that the right customer is at the right place, at the right time, and served by the most appropriate staff, organizations can; 

  • Increase sales and productivity by up to 30% 
  • Decrease costs by up to 30%. 

When queuing, no matter what, where, or why. It's an experience. That waiting experience can range from sublime to horrendous. For general purposes, organizations can settle for a good, neutral, or lousy waiting experience. 

According to my opinion, all service providers should strive for a good waiting experience. But the first step for any organization that wants to improve their waiting experience is to define what the queuing problem is.

What is a queuing problem?

A queue occurs when there are more customers than employees to serve them. This means that customers have to wait for their turn. Whether the waiting itself is an issue or not can only be determined by the customers. 

In 1985, an American writer and expert on business management named David Maister published a seminal paper titled the Psychology of Waiting Lines. Here he outlines a simple formula to measure customer satisfaction. 

S = P – E
  • S = satisfaction
  • P = perception of the service level
  • E = expectation of the service level

Satisfied customers
If the customer's perception of a service level is equal to or higher than their expectation of that service level, they are satisfied.

Dissatisfied customers
If the customer's perception of a service level is lower than their expectation of that service level, they are dissatisfied. 

Defining the queuing problem

As the perceived service level are strongly correlated to the waiting experience, my definition of the queuing problem is:

A queuing problem occurs when the number of dissatisfied customers is higher than the number of satisfied customers
due to the perceived
waiting experience.

Therefore, organizations can overcome the queuing problem by improving the waiting experience.

How to improve the waiting experience

The fundamental solution to the queue problem is to improve the waiting experience. Here are three examples of how to do it. 

Keep customers entertained

Relevant distractions can improve the customer's waiting experience. By placing entertainment media in the waiting area such as a TV, music or games, you can transform passive waiting into an active waiting.  

Ensure that customers are well-informed

Make it easy for the customers to know where to go, where to wait, and how long the expected waiting times are. Use monitors and digital screens to provide this information.

Take the opportunity to enlighten customers

When customers are waiting, there is an excellent opportunity for you to advertise your products or services on monitors and digital screens. By enlightening the customer on your offering, he or she is likely to be more receptive to cross-sell and up-sell. 

A queue management system solves the queuing problem

The above examples are general advice on how to improve the waiting experience. If you want to solve a queuing problem, the next step for you is to get a basic understanding of queue management systems. 

A queue management system, or customer journey management system that the more complex solutions are called, is software with a set of tools that helps businesses monitor, plan, and manage a customer's entire visit from pre-arrival to post-serving. If you want to learn more about these systems and how they improve customer satisfaction and organizational efficiency, take a product tour below.

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Henk Varkevisser

Henk Varkevisser

Commercial Product Manager Orchestra

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