When heavy foot traffic is on your list of concerns, you need strategies you can count on to keep customers flowing through your venue, lines manageable in length, and safety high. Crowd control is the name of the game and we’ve got some proven tips to help you:
1. Keep entrances and exits clear.
Smooth customer flow begins and ends with clearly marked entry and exit pathways. This is true for the threshold entry to a venue and also includes the various entry and exit points to any queue, corridor, or service area inside. Having clear and easy access into a location and out once a transaction is completed makes shopping or movability less challenging and more pleasurable. Also making sure the entry is clearly marked (and even enticing) can be a way to touch the buying impulse and bring in customers who weren’t necessary planning to stop.
2. Plan predictable pathways.
Clear pathways that disperse and direct people rather than gather them will support both flow and sales. Create clearly marked pathways from entrance to exit, even starting outside. This clarity via wayfinding signage, structures like belts and stanchions, and well designed merchandise areas will help avoid confusion and keep the focus on shopping, dining, or travels. Signage lets customers know exactly where to stand and where to go at every stage of their experience. Extra-long belted stanchions and transporters can help manage flow with flexibility. Also use signage to mark special areas, promotions and ways to make the pathway to shop, purchase, and check in or out super smooth.
3. Acknowledge wait time.
A simple acknowledgment of the wait itself by employees or via digital displays can keep waiting customers happy – and keep them in line. It’s no fun to hear that five minutes of waiting (or fifteen) remain, but people are more willing to put in the time when they have a realistic sense of the wait time.
4. Anticipate and act fast.
With today’s queue management technology, managers can use real-time analytics to anticipate traffic flow and immediately deploy staff when wait times approach unacceptable limits. This information also allows managers to adjust queue set-up as needed to keep people moving.
5. Engage and entertain.
Digital signage and interesting merchandise can distract and engage customers during their wait, reducing perceived wait time and potentially generating sales. Take advantage of your captive audience by stationing digital signage anywhere you know customers must wait.
6. Queue with clarity.
Letting customers clearly know when to move from one place to another helps them stay relaxed, and possibly even continue shopping if there is merchandise in the queue or if their position is held in a virtual queue. Call-forward queuing also has the added benefit of keeping staff productive and minimizing downtime.
7. Be ready to organize overflow.
A sudden influx of people at one time is an inevitable situation during peak times. When a sudden increase in customers causes lines to back up, the resulting congestion can limit access to other areas as well as cause safety concerns. Keeping traffic organized not only keeps the flow moving but also provides a better customer experience and can even impress customers and leave them feeling respected and impressed.
8. Consider going virtual.
Consider integrating a virtual queue system where customers register for service, wait wherever and however they’d like, and then arrive when the business is ready to serve them. There is no better way to respect and serve your customers than leaving control of their time in their own hands.
Smart crowd control is well worth the effort. Companies with a high customer service rating are up to 12 times more profitable than their competitors. And, according to Bain and Co., a 5 percent increase in customer retention can increase profitability by 75 percent. Transform heavy traffic into an abundance of opportunity.
Plan safe and smooth traffic flow this season by incorporating the right mix of heavy foot traffic solutions and keep your customers moving and happy.
 PIMS Strategic Planning Institute