What’s With All the Attention on Queue Management?
At Retail’s Big Show earlier this year we noticed what appears to be a new trend. An increasing focus on queue management. All sorts of companies were out sharing their technology wares, queuing products, and solutions to help retailers better manage their queues.
Why? Why are so many companies jumping on the bandwagon we’ve been riding for so many years?
We would contend the reason is actually quite simple. Businesses across a diverse range of industries, from retail to tourism to entertainment to service, have a renewed interest in one thing: The customer experience. An idea that has been at the forefront for several years has made its way to the queue. And managers just might be realizing that through queue management that they are able to increase impulse sales, increase customer happiness, and improve overall business efficiency.
The lure of impulse sales.
Queue management is about more than just stringing together some stanchions. A true queue management strategy considers how the queue can become part of the sales engine of the organization. After all, if customers are waiting they might as well keep shopping! For retailers, this draw to queue management may be especially attractive. Turning the queue into a store-within-a-store is made possible by in-queue merchandising systems that tie into the structure of the queue to present impulse items right where customers are waiting.
Another, not-so-obvious, queue management approach that can lead to impulse sales is taking a “virtual” approach to the queue. In other words, getting rid of the queue entirely. Virtual queuing uses the power of technology to check people into the waiting line while giving them the freedom to keep shopping (and buying) while they wait to be called to check out or possibly to enter the next available dressing room.
The desire to make happier customers.
Today’s focus on the customer experience is driven by the overall desire to create customer joy. Unfortunately, waiting lines are a common source of customer dismay that form at critical points in the customer journey. So businesses are left with a quandary of how to serve customers in the right order while also keeping the dreaded wait at an acceptable level to avoid turning customers away. This challenge is likely driving many to turn to queue management. In doing so, businesses will find that queue management involves more than just keeping wait times at a minimum. It is really an exercise in managing the feeling of waiting as well as the wait itself.
The need to improve business efficiency.
A final reason we believe businesses are turning to queue management is to improve overall business productivity and efficiency. As businesses across industries look to gain a competitive edge in an increasingly competitive world, they must uncover every stone. Waiting lines or queues are a key place where efficiencies can be gained or lost. A queue that is under- or over-staffed equates to lost efficiency. So, as queue management evolves and companies come out with technology to help companies better manage the efficiencies of their queues, there is a natural draw to this.
Overall, we are impressed to see so much attention on a topic we’ve been focused on for years. It says a lot about the maturity of the industry and businesses as a whole who recognize that the queuing experience can impact the overall customer experience.
What do you think? Is your business more or less focused on queue management this year? Where do you see your queue management needs in the next 12 months?