How to reduce waiting time is an essential question among managers, especially since long waiting times in businesses lead to poor experiences among visitors and an unhealthy work environment. There are many ways to solve this problem. In the following, I will highlight the importance of streamlining the queue process. At the end of the article, you can download a guide about queue management systems.
Why reduce the waiting time?
It's time to improve the customer experience. During my career, I have seen many adverse outcomes caused by long waiting times. For instance, in a hospital, patients get an increased distrust towards the employees when they need to wait for several hours. Meanwhile, the nurses and doctors get stressed by the increased number of complaints. The same is true for banks, retail stores, and other businesses.
As long waiting times have a negative impact on both visitors and service providers, there is often a need to look into how to reduce the waiting time.
How to reduce the waiting time?
I meet many organizations, clinics, and businesses that want to reduce their waiting time due to a problem with the existing queue process. Maybe you are also struggling with an increased amount of dissatisfied visitors or evenly distributing the workload among employees during the day?
The waiting time is dependent on how many employees and visitors there are in the facility at the same time. So, how do we solve the problem? Well, there are at least two alternatives. Either you hire more employees, or you streamline the existing queue process.
Hire more employees
When I meet managers in any industry, their first approach to reducing the wait time is to hire more employees. Having more employees per visitor will reduce wait times. However, when doing the math, it quickly adds up to an unsustainable solution from an economic perspective.
Streamline the queue process
A more cost-effective and long-term solution is to analyze the existing queue process and identify the main improvement areas. By streamlining the queue process, you'll be able to reduce the waiting time without any significant cost increase.
If you intend to reduce the waiting time, my recommendation is to streamline the queue process, as you'll be able to serve more visitors without hiring more employees, and the visitor will have a better experience.
To learn more about queue management, download our Queue Management Guide:
How to streamline the queue process
Inform the customer
Waiting and wondering is never the right combination. Provide reassurance by guiding and updating visitors about where to go, where to wait, and inform them about the expected wait time.
Consider connecting an appointment solution
With an appointment solution in place, the workload can be better planned, and customers will have a shorter waiting time on site.
Open self-service opportunities
Reception desks can be overstaffed and costly bottlenecks. By directing patients to an automated reception system, you reduce the burden and, therefore, the cost of low-value tasks on administrative staff.
Provide virtual queuing
By implementing virtual queuing, meaning for example offering online tickets, the customer can wait wherever they like, and the perceived waiting time will be shorter.
Spend time with visitors based on their needs
Every visitor's need is different; some are looking for a quick answer, while other service cases need more time to solve. With the right technology, staff members can be informed about the visitor's needs before they meet. So do handle everyone individually, and ensure you match the competence of the staff member with the visitor’s need.
Speed up the right service
With a proper monitoring system for queuing as well as analysis tools for historical data, time can be better spent where it is needed.
Do surveys to identify improvement areas
Improving the queue process is a continuous effort based on learning about the visitor's service journey and waiting experience. By doing surveys, it makes it possible to gain insight into the services experienced by visitors.
Queue management systems
To streamline the queue process, most service providers use some kind of queue management system. I prefer to call it a customer journey management system as there are so many more things you can add to it than just managing the queue itself, like appointment solutions, analysis tools, and surveys so that you cover the entire customer journey. These systems have all the functions needed to overcome the challenges of reducing waiting times, managing costs and staff, and improving the visitor's experience.
If you want to know more about what your business can achieve with a queue management system/customer journey management system, download the PowerPoint presentation below, where the following questions are addressed:
• What is a queue management system? • How does a queue management system work? • When to consider a queue management system? • Which sectors benefit the most of queue management system?