Your complete guide to Queue Management System.
Managing customers' queuing experience and waiting time is essential to delighting your customers. The purpose of this page is to give you a central understanding of what a queue management system is, why it's important, and how to choose the best queuing system based on your needs.
What is Queue Management?
Queue management is the process of managing your waiting customers and efficiently introducing them to staff members for further assistance while enhancing the customer waiting experience throughout the entire customer journey.
There are two types of waiting time definitions, which are equally important to consider when working with queue management and these are:
- 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.
The clear difference between actual and perceived wait time is the human factor in the latter. To improve the customer experience and implement an efficient queue management process in your business, reducing the actual waiting time while enhancing the perceived waiting time is essential for success. If one waiting type is improved over the other, the results would still not be optimal nor have the same positive effect on your customer experience as when improved collectively.
The Importance of Queue Management in Customer Journey Management
Queue management is an essential part of efficient customer journey management, especially when customer demands, and behaviors are constantly changing and when customer journeys are becoming more complex and fragmented to please various customer preferences simultaneously. In the mid-20th century, the term ‘queue management’ first appeared, the main purpose of which was to reduce the actual waiting time for customers waiting in line at shops or restaurants, where the customer journey was much more straightforward and linear.
In recent years, new technology and customer behaviors have evolved customer journeys to be more complex and dynamic. Today, it is expected of customers that service providers manage the entire customer journey, from pre-arrival to post-serving, while providing interactive options that please a broader spectrum of customer preferences, e.g., physical in-line queueing and virtual queueing off-premises. The result is that queue management has become less of an independent solution and instead has become an essential part of customer journey management. It considers the customer experience from a holistic level but would not function properly without the queue management aspect incorporated in it.
What is a Queue Management System?
A queue management system is primarily a system that ensures that customers get served in the correct order and provides the tools to systematically manage the customer flow and waiting experience throughout the customer journey. A queuing system can contain either or both software and hardware that help businesses facilitate the customer's access to services, plan and manage customer flow and staff, and gather data to improve the customer experience by collecting customer feedback.
Functionalities of queue management systems
Queue management systems vary in complexity, some can include simple paper tickets and a call-up display, whereas advanced ones can include appointment booking, self-service kiosks, and virtual queuing solutions altogether. As mentioned above, a queue management system can contain both software and hardware. Below are some examples of what components and functionalities a queue management system can include. Some of them can be used independently, but more sophisticated solutions combine the different modules to create a seamless omnichannel solution.
Examples of software in a queue management system:
- Online appointment booking
- Virtual queuing via smartphone with Mobile Tickets
- Virtual waiting rooms
- Customized apps for staff to see arrival announcements, call-ups, and serve customers
- Automatic customer and staff notifications
- Real-time monitoring of operations
- Customer feedback surveys
- Business intelligence with extensive statistics and analyses
Examples of hardware in a queue management system:
- Self-service kiosks
- Ticket printers
- Waiting area displays
- Counter displays
- Vision and sound equipment for call-ups
Benefits of a Queue Management System
A queue management system enables you to practically manage customers throughout their interactions with your organization and make that journey as comfortable and smooth as possible. It also helps you understand how your customers and employees engage, providing you with the insights you need to improve both the customer experience and the operational efficiency. Some of the key benefits of a queue management system are mentioned below.
Improve access to services with appointment scheduling
By offering customers to schedule appointments, you can estimate the expected number of planned and drop-in customers more accurately to allocate needed resources to handle the anticipated customer flow. In the article, Appointment Scheduling Solution: What, How, and Why, you can learn more about the benefits of using an appointment scheduling system to manage customer flows and reduce waiting time.
Decrease actual waiting time by better time management and resource allocation
A queuing system helps you manage and divide your customer flows into various queues for faster assistance and allocate needed resources efficiently and more accurately while helping you streamline the entire customer journey across the different interactive touchpoints.
Reduce customer uncertainty with notifications and messaging
With a queue management system, customers can get SMS or email notifications with reminders of their appointments, information about how to prepare for their appointments, and use self-service kiosks or virtual check-in links to announce their arrival for their appointments. With messaging through, for example, digital signage, it is possible to share details such as the number of open counters, services offered, current waiting and transaction times. Keeping your customers informed present at the premises of how the queue is progressing and giving estimates as to how long they need to wait will affect their perceived wait time positively and remove their uncertainty about how your operations are going.
Keep customers entertained with media solutions in the waiting area
Integrating media displays with a queue management system will help keep the waiting customer entertained and informed, which in turn decreases their perceived waiting time. Furthermore, as the customers are entertained, time moves faster and helps leave a positive waiting experience.
Allow customers to wait wherever they prefer with a mobile ticket
With advanced queue management systems, it is possible to introduce the option of getting a mobile ticket instead of a physical one to your customers and tend to more preferences. This means that the customer can wait remotely off the premises wherever they like and spend their time wisely, decreasing the risk of crowded lobbies and increasing the customer's waiting experience. Virtual queueing solutions' flexibility is also more extensive than traditional paper tickets. Customers can be informed of their queuing position in real-time through notifications in their Mobile Ticket or request to postpone their visit and notify staff members to help a different customer in the meantime.
Enable staff planning and increase staff mobility
Gathering real-time data on staff performance and visitor volumes with a queue management system can facilitate managers to do efficiently plan staff resources and request more for more if sudden increases in customer volumes occur. It helps managers balance and control the customers’ waiting period and distribute staff where they are most needed during peak hours to limit stressful situations.
Match the right staff competence to each customer case
With queue management software, businesses can segment customers into different service lines so that the customer requests are matched with the most competent staff members with relevant expertise to assist with the customers’ cases. This way, the customer flow is optimized by entering customers in appropriate queues instead of a unified one, which helps to increase operational efficiency and service quality.
Improve personalization of service delivery
Personalizing the customer experience can enhance the overall experience significantly, and with a queue management system that has the capacity to include multiple service modules, this can be easily achieved. For example, you can combine traditional paper queuing tickets with self-service kiosks and virtual queuing tickets, covering various customer preferences at the same time.
Identify bottlenecks and improve operations
Gathering data throughout the customer journey, such as service times and waiting times, gives you a complete overview of your current service performance. Not only can this information help identify improvement possibilities to enhance operations, but real-time data can also alert managers on the floor to allocate more staff quickly to reduce bottlenecks in the running operations.
Which Industries Benefit the Most of a Queue Management System?
All organizations benefit from satisfied customers. However, some industries stand out more than others when it comes to the need for a queue management system, such as finance, healthcare, retail, and the public sector.
Queue management systems in the public sector
There is an ongoing digital transformation in the public sector where more and more government offices and universities implement modern digital queue management solutions. The challenges of large visitor volumes, multiple service requests from citizens, and limited resources are universal for the public sector across countries. A queue management system enables government offices to deliver high-quality services and improve citizens’ waiting experience by actively managing the visitor flow with multiple queues and clear communication with an elevated waiting area design containing displays and digital signages.
On the page Queuing solutions for government offices, you can learn more about the benefits of queue management system in public service and government offices.
Applying a queue management system with virtual queuing solutions in universities and colleges can significantly improve the students’ experiences when needing to visit the student center or attain help in other departments. Younger generations are more used to having easy and quick access to services directly on their phone or computer. A queuing system with virtual queueing solutions and online appointment booking functionality enables students to easily navigate and find the service they need, book an appointment online, or come to the office and get a Mobile Ticket and wait anywhere they want until it is their turn to be served.
You can find more information about queue management systems in universities and colleges on our website, as well as the benefits of using one.
Queue management systems in hospitals
Every day, healthcare facilities like hospitals, safety net hospitals, clinics, and urgent care units are visited by large crowds of worried patients, who are stressed and sometimes even in pain, with limited resources and worn-out staff to tend to the patients. Most healthcare facilities are under pressure to provide high-quality patient care while having limited resources. These circumstances create a very stressful experience for patients who have to wait long hours to get help or wait in long patient queues to get an appointment, and for staff alike who are pressured to treat more patients in less time. To improve the patient experience, you need to create a comfortable environment for the patients and provide tools to your staff that help them manage the patient flows efficiently and reduce administrative workload so they can spend more time on patient care.
With a queue management system, healthcare providers can streamline their operations and efficiently direct patients to the correct department for examination much quicker and send information seamlessly to the staff member receiving the patient. If the system is combined with an appointment scheduling solution, patients can easily book their own appointments online and receive booking confirmations and reminders when their appointment is approaching, reducing the administrative work on staff to do this all manually.
In the article Queue Management Systems in Hospitals, you can read more about how a queue management system can help improve your healthcare facility and some examples of performance results that hospitals have achieved by implementing it in their patient journey management system.
Queue management systems in retail
Retail customers shop online, on mobile, and in-store, and due to these varied buying behaviors, retailers need to make sure they have a functioning queuing system for tending to the different customer preferences. Customer expectations are constantly changing and becoming more demanding in terms of speed of service and easy accessibility to products and services, putting more pressure on retailers to create a seamless and smooth customer journey online and offline.
By implementing a queue management system, you can get the insights to understand, anticipate, and meet the customer's expectations by gaining more control of customer flows and allocating needed resources and self-service options based on demand at the premises.
Many retailers use queue management systems to improve customer experience, and here are some top functionalities that are highly popular to enhance the omnichannel on and off-premises:
- Location-based mobile app: Make it easy for customers to find your store with a location-based mobile app and make it easy for them to purchase online and pick up their purchase at your store, also known as a click-and-collect service.
- Virtual queueing and Mobile tickets: Let customers check-in or get a mobile ticket via their mobile phone and make it easier to browse your store while waiting for their turn to be served.
- SMS and digital signage: Reduce actual and perceived waiting times by keeping the customer updated via SMS or digital signage on how long their estimated waiting time is and where to go when it’s their turn.
On the page Retail Industry Solutions, you can read more about managing customers' wait time in retail and optimizing the omnichannel experience.
Queue management systems in banks
The service quality and customer experience are crucial for banks and making sure your customers are left with a good impression with a smooth service experience. If you do not live up to customer expectations, it's easier than ever for them to shift to a new bank.
To improve customers’ perception and experience, enhancing the speed and quality of your banking services is vital for success, and this can easily be achieved with a queue management system that is both efficient and cost-effective.
In the article, Queue Management Systems in Banks, you can read more about how banks can benefit from replacing traditional queuing systems with new modern queue management systems.
How does a Queue Management System Work?
A queue management system is about managing the customers' waiting experience and includes the tools to reduce waiting times and support your staff in their efforts to provide excellent customer care. Queue management systems can consist of digital and physical touchpoints, where the customers can interact with both in their customer journey. By connecting the three main stages of pre-service, service, and post-service with containing touchpoints, a queue management system helps streamline the customer flow in multiple parts of the customer journey.
Watch the video below to see how a queue management system can work:
How to Choose the Best Queue Management System
As a service provider, you can choose between simple and more complex queue management software, including advanced modules. We have highlighted some main things to consider when choosing a supplier and a queue management system. You can use these features to compare different options and discover the system that best suits your needs.
What to consider when choosing a queue management system supplier
The key criteria when selecting a queue management system supplier are:
- Proven track record
- Experience in queue management in your industry
- Understanding your specific visitors’ issues and experience
- The ability to engage all stakeholders, internal and external
- Project management expertise
- Flexible pricing or total cost of ownership to accommodate your budget and needs, now and in the future
- Integration possibilities and technical support
What to consider when choosing a queue management system
Below are some essential factors to consider when selecting a queue management system:
- Security: The solution should ensure that customer data is secured and protected and that there is functionality to assist with GDPR compliance and other privacy laws.
- Scalability: Should the solution be able to accommodate growing demands when your organization or service portfolio grows or when customer demands increase?
- Offer omnichannel solutions: A wide range of demography may require services in physical and/or digital environments, so consider an omnichannel solution that can cater to the requirements through various channels without any communication
- Integration capacity, from pre-arrival through post-service: To improve your customer journey, you need to consider all customer touchpoints. Ensure your system integrates physical and digital channels seamlessly.
- Collection of data at all interactive touchpoints: Get the insights needed to improve and streamline your service performance by investing in a system that gathers data from all customer touchpoints.
- Ability to match customer needs with employee skills: A more streamlined process that connects customers to the right employee is the key to handling higher demands more efficiently.
- Allows third-party integration: In the need for customization, the system needs to allow additional third-party features to be built on top if required.
- Ability to handle changes without disrupting the customer flow: A queue management system should be able to handle both appointment and walk-in visitors and adapt if someone cancels, postpones, or comes late to their appointment.
- Easy to configure and possible to personalize the user interface: Organizations are not all the same, and neither are their customers, so the solution should be configurable to manage all the different requirements.
In the article, Important factors to consider when choosing a queue management system, you can learn more about important things to consider when investing in a queue management system.
Queue management system price
The price of a queue management system depends on what the technical requirements are and how simple or advanced solution you are looking for. It ranges from a simple manual paper ticketing dispenser all the way to a fully flexible customer journey management solution integrated with the rest of the business.
How to Implement a Queue Management System
The supplier installs and configures the system, but there are some steps you need to think about throughout the implementation phase. Below are a few examples of what we recommend organizations to consider when implementing a queue management system.
Identify your business needs
The required functions of a queue management system vary among organizations, industries, and countries. Therefore, you'll need to thoroughly identify your needs with the supplier as the first step.
As highlighted in the article, How to reduce customer wait times with automation, identifying your needs is the first step, and you can do so by creating a list of all the services you provide. Make sure you separate between the services you offer and the services you perform. It’s a big difference.
Walk the customer journey yourself. By actually going through each customer touchpoint, you can easily detect gaps and breaks in your customer journey and more easily identify where you can implement solutions.
Set clear objectives
To ensure high quality, cost savings, and effective timings during the implementation phase, we recommend that organizations mutually agree on objectives and expectations and plan the implementation together with the queue management system supplier.
In the article, How to reduce customer wait times with automation, the author defines the service level as the maximum time that it is okay for the customer to wait in a queue. One important objective when implementing a Queue Management System is to define this acceptable wait time for each queue. Then, you can configure the system to call the customer closest to the end of their service level.
Test the system before launch
After the supplier has configured the software and installed the hardware on your premise, you must get time to test and verify that the solution meets your objectives and expectations. Give yourself the time to amend any inefficiencies or add improvements before introducing the system.
Develop the right skill sets
To maximize the value of the queue management system, your employees must be introduced to the software and develop the right skill sets. We recommend that you require proper training from your supplier and ensure your staff is given the opportunity to learn the system.
Evaluate and refine
Make sure you continually evaluate your results from the queue management system. Does it solve your needs and meet your objectives? Have a close dialogue with your supplier to refine and enhance if needed.