Queue Management: How to Manage Customers' Waiting Experience

Queue Management: How to Manage Customers' Waiting Experience

Anna Oom |December 11 2023 7 min

What should businesses look for when trying to improve customer experiences? Easy, how to reduce frustration amongst customers. A lot of customer frustration lies in the amount of time they have to wait until they get assistance. A key component to consider in any business when trying to improve customer experiences is to evaluate customers’ waiting experience, and this is when the term ‘queue management’ comes into role.

The domino effect of providing good customer experiences is well known and often argued to be recognized as increasing sales numbers and increasing customer base, followed by reductions in support costs. Queue management is an integral part of improving the customer experience by reducing wait times and providing efficient service, contributing to the goal of leaving a good interactive impression with the customer. But first, it is important to define the essence of queue management and why it is essential to be oriented towards the customers in order to fully understand the process of waiting in the queue.

What is Waiting in a Queue?

When putting waiting into a business context, it is important to consider that waiting can have different forms in different industries, but generally put, I would define waiting as follows:

Waiting is the time a customer experiences between the moment they first decide to get something and the moment they actually have it.

The above definition provides an explanation of what actual wait time is. Nevertheless, from a customer's perspective, one can consider the perceived wait time, reflecting the perceived time a customer feels they have gone through from the moment they identified that they wanted something to the moment they attained it. If you intend to improve the customer experience, there are two types of waiting times to take into account in your queue management strategy: actual and perceived wait time. Thereby, it’s important to understand what distinguishes actual and perceived wait time, using the definitions below.

  • Actual wait time: the real waiting time that starts when a customer decides to get something until they have it in their possession.
  • Perceived wait time: the experienced waiting time a customer perceives from the moment they decide to get something until they have it in their possession.

However, I firmly believe the customer's perceived wait time is the most critical aspect to consider.

What is Queue Management?

Based on the above definition of waiting, my definition of queue management is:

The process of managing a customer’s waiting experience.

How to Reduce the Waiting Time?

Queue management is not about trying to eliminate waiting times. Any company that strives to offer instant service will incur substantial costs — having too many employees on hand.

Queue management is all about improving the customer's waiting experience. Achieving this contributes to flexibility in the staffing model, which in turn provides efficient and cost-effective customer service.

Therefore, if you intend to improve the customers' waiting experience, you should not start asking "how to reduce waiting time?", but rather "how to improve the waiting experience?".

How to Improve the Waiting Experience with Queue Management?

If the customer’s perceived waiting time feels shorter than the actual time, the customers are more likely to walk away satisfied. There are many things a company can do to improve the waiting experience. Below, I have listed three improvements that I think every service provider should consider.

Provide an active waiting experience

The most extended wait is the one you cannot control. Therefore, you want to create an active waiting experience. This can be done by installing media solutions in the waiting area, to engage and entertain the customer.

Keep the customer informed

By keeping the customer informed, you'll remove the uncertainty and worry from the wait. Use monitors to provide your customers’ information, such as where to go, where to wait, and estimated waiting times for different queues.

Achieve an optimal waiting time

As already mentioned, there is no reason to strive for instant service. When customers spend time waiting, they are more likely to explore your offering. You should aim for an optimal waiting time, as it will both enhance the customer experience and increase sales.

Queue Management Systems

Do remember that queuing is one part of the customer's entire journey. To improve the overall customer experience, you'll need to enhance the experience at each point of contact.

To do that, most companies use a queue management system, where the more complex solutions are also known as customer journey management systems. A queue management system is a software with a set of tools that helps your business to monitor, plan, and manage your customer's entire visit from pre-arrival to post-serving.

In this modern day, a queue management system that combines traditional queueing with virtual queuing solutions is the way forward. If you want to learn more about queue management systems that have the capacity to include virtual solutions and how they can improve customer experience and organizational efficiency, I recommend you explore our powerful solution, Qmatic Experience Cloud.

If you want to learn more, I'd suggest you check out this guide. Download the complete guide to Queue Management systems

Anna Oom

Anna Oom

Global Content Marketing Manager.

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