in queue merchandising    

4 Things Google and Zappos Can Teach Us About Queuing

single line queue

When you are looking for new ideas or inspiration for your business, sometimes it is best to look beyond your own industry. That is why today, we are going to look at one of the largest tech companies in the world, Google, and one of the largest online retailers, Zappos, to see what they can teach us about queuing.

“Keep people happy and healthy over the long haul.”1

Both Google and Zappos place customer satisfaction and employee retention at the top of their list. They know that happy employees and happy customers make for good business.

We’ve seen from years of research, studies, and our own experiences that people do not like to wait. If a customer is kept waiting more than they personally think is reasonable, it creates a negative experience. Having a well-functioning queue is integral to this experience. Displaying wait times, using in-queue entertainment, or adding in-queue merchandising are all ways that you can reduce the perceived wait time if your service agents are already fully utilized. Keeping customers happy will prolong customer retention, encourage repeat business, and prompt positive recommendations of your business.

“Transparency: Leaders are present on a weekly basis to employees, receiving questions and asking them in turn.”2

At Google, founders Larry and Sergey make themselves available on a weekly basis to update employees on projects and to ask and receive questions. This act of leadership having face-to-face time with employees shows that they care about their employees and their opinions.Continue Reading

A Queue for Many Happy Returns

waiting line queue management

It’s that time of year again, when everyone’s favorite well-meaning in-law, grandmother, or uncle gives a gift that wasn’t exactly on the wish list. We love them, but unfortunately that gift must be returned!

The thankful-but-reluctant recipients of your customers’ gifts will head to your store, perhaps a bit guilt-ridden, to conduct their returns. This is a great opportunity for you, as a business, to convert these guests into happy new customers. But it won’t be possible if the return process is long winded and frustrating.

Here are a few ideas that will help improve the return process and leave you with a happy guest, and maybe even a new customer.

1. Dedicate a queue (or queues) for returns.

The first step to satisfying guests who are returning items to your store is to help them feel welcome. Dedicating a service queue for returns can not only give these guests the feeling that you care about their transaction, but it also keeps your purchase lines free and clear for other customers.

2. Clearly label the path.

Start from the moment a guest enters your store. Make it easy for them to find the returns department and help them navigate through the store to their destination. Directional signage is an easy way to accomplish this task. At the head of the queue place stanchions with post-top signage to designate where the line forms.Continue Reading

4 Customer Flow Metrics You Should Have at Your Fingertips

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So, you manage a queue. You know your customers walk into your queue and they walk out. You also know your customers don’t navigate the queue seamlessly without at least a little effort on your part. But how do you know if your effort is paying off? The answer is simple. Monitor the customer flow within your queueing area.

To effectively monitor customer flow, there are 4 metrics you should have at your fingertips at all times. With these factors known, you are better able to maximize efficiency, increase customer satisfaction, and improve productivity. Let’s take a closer look.

Customer Flow Metric #1: Queue Activity

Monitoring queue activity includes taking into account all floor space within and around the queue and service area. Map out this activity to determine if waiting lines are deserted or if increasingly large crowds are starting to form in the queue. Also, look for evidence that some queues are receiving more activity than others. Unbalanced service areas simply promote inefficiency.

To take full advantage of monitoring queue activity try implementing a system with real-time alerts. As a manager, you can instantly receive notifications when wait times, queue lengths, or other important KPIs are out of compliance. You gain control over your queues as you stop problems before they escalate.

Customer Flow Metric #2: Speed of Service

Gauging the overall speed of service in your queue is of multi-faceted importance. You have taken the time to carefully determine how many customers you need to put through your queue each day to keep your business running. You also know how long customers are willing to wait to be served before negative feelings and unwanted actions come to fruition. These factors determine your target range of acceptable service speeds. But how do you know if you are attaining the service speed goal? Track it of course. If you are informed, you can take action when discrepancies arise.Continue Reading