If your organisation provides a service that takes more than a few minutes speaking with a member of staff, then your customers will be happier to sit and wait or take a walk and return when it’s their turn. And the only way to make this happen for them is to adopt a queue management system into your business model.


Contents

Here, we outline what exactly a queue management system is, how it works and why you need it, in short, digestible chunks. You can read our guide from top to bottom, or skip to a point that is most relevant for your needs.

  1. What is queue management?
  2. What is a queue management system?
  3. The different types of queue management systems
  4. What are the benefits of a QMS?  
  5. What is a virtual queue? 
  6. What is a queue management App?
  7. What are the benefits of having a Queue Management App?
  8. The power of queue analytics
  9. An introduction to NEXA’s Queue Management system 

1.What is queue management?

 

what is qm systemWhen we think of a queue, we automatically picture a long line of people – probably checking their watches and tapping their toes in annoyance. Put simply, a queue is a line of people awaiting services or products – where demand has exceeded supply. Let’s look at the different types of queues you can get before explaining how to manage them.

Structured queues. These are where people form a queue in a fixed, predictable position, like at a supermarket checkout or at airport security.

Unstructured queues. Where people form a queue in unpredictable and varying locations and direction, like in retail or at ATMS. Physical barriers may be used to funnel people into a line.

Kiosk based queues. Used by banks, and medical and government service locations, these are where people enter basic information into a kiosk about themselves and their reason for their visit.

Mobile queue. Customers use an app on their mobile phone to make an appointment and check in, meaning they don’t have to be at the service centre until their appointment time.

Just as there are different types of queues, so to are there different ways of managing them:

Physical barrier. Using bollards and belts

Digital signage. Customers enter their information into an LCD screen upon arrival and then watch the TV screens to see when their number is called up. The TV screens can also display advertising and stream live TV or music to entertain customers while they wait.

Appointment scheduling. Customers can use an app on their phone to make the appointment, fill their details in and even check in to the service when they arrive.

Queue management is there to streamline customer service and create a better operating environment for staff. Read more here.

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2. What is a queue management system?

qmsA queue management system is a set of principles aimed at controlling customer flow and streamlining the queuing experience.

It is a technological solution designed to manage and analyse the customer interactions in a service centre.

A QMS will analyse and manage:

  • The population of customers – this is the total volume of customer flow
  • Method of arrival – this is the many ways customers arrive at your organisation
  • Service mechanism – how long it takes for customers to be serviced, how many people are working to service these customers.
  • Queue characteristics – how the customers are being addressed and prioritised and how the customers are feeling in the queue.

These aspects are difficult to monitor manually, but an effective QMS can ensure that the waiting process is orderly with the technology there to allow for a smooth and efficient experience.

A good queue management system should have the following attributes:

  • A queue management system must offer the experience across a multitude of channels. For instance, it should be able to be appointment based with a ticketing system, but also allow for a human touch, like a concierge, to bridge the gap between technology and humanised customer service.
  • A queue management system must be able to change based on demand and operational goals while ensuring customers are not affected.
  • Data driven. The constant inward and outward flow of data provides a lot of valuable insight and is instrumental in shaping future processes as well as improving service level.

Read more about Queue management systems here.

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3. The different types of queue management systems

Now that we know what a queue management system is, let’s explore the different types you get.

barrier

Physical Management
Actual belt barriers or bollards that limit where people stand, like in cinemas.
These can cause stress because people can feel trapped and are also very aware of how long they will have to wait. It is not an effective queue management system.

form

Sign-in sheet
Visitors fill out a form and hand it in to the receptionist. Handwriting is not always legible and it is time-consuming.

ticket

Ticket-based management
Visitors take a number and wait until the screen displays their number.
Sometimes ticket stands can run out of paper at a critical moment. They’re also very impersonal.

tap

Digital management
Visitors enter their own data onto a touch screen and it is then customised. The only issue with this system is that it’s quite new and people are still getting used to it. They may also be expensive in the short term, but the value is long lasting.

concierge

Human management
A personal server guides the customer through every step of the service.This would be fantastic but very expensive. Organisations could try to include human management to work in tandem with any of the other types of queue management systems mentioned above.

Each type of queue management system has its own pros and cons, so choosing the right one for your organisation is critical.

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4. What are the benefits of a QMS?

It’s virtually impossible to list the benefits of a QMS for your organisation – but we’ll try. Here we’ve boiled them down to five crucial ones:

tube-queue
Reduce long lines.
A QMS will give your customers quicker access to the services they need, which will shorten their wait times and reduce congestion. In turn, this improves customer satisfaction and has the added bonus of them not walking away in frustration because they’ve been waiting too long!

happiness

Enhanced customer experience
A queue management system ensures customers are waiting in the right line, how long they will be waiting for and can entertain them while they wait. If people are kept busy they won’t be thinking about how long they’ve been waiting for.

bar-chart

Free up staff to perform better
If staff aren’t having to manage long lines they can focus on serving customers. This benefits both the employees and the customers in the long run.

analysis

Provide useful data
A QMS gathers real-time data about the service, the wait time and the customers. This data can be used to work out which areas are working well and which ones need improving.

check-square

Increase your bottom line
Enhancing your organisations efficiencies will save you time, reduce costs and improve customer engagement to the point where they turn into repeat customers.

 

A queue management system is not just a useful management tool. Let’s see how it benefits everyone involved:

For Visitors
Visitors don’t want to be mucked around. They want to feel valued, without any stress. For visitors, a QMS will:

  • Reduce actual and perceived waiting times
  • Ensure they are standing in the correct queue
  • Keep them informed of where they are in the queue
  • Entertain them, so they actually enjoy their waiting time

For Managers
A QMS will help to keep chaos at bay in your organisation by:

  • Improving crowd control
  • Instructing customers
  • Making the work environment less stressful for employees
  • Analysing customer behaviour

For Administration
The customer experience and business image is hugely dependent on how long customers are waiting so a QMS helps by:

  • Evaluating how employees are managing the queue
  • Allowing for better resource planning
  • Analysing when the queues are getting busy, and when they’re quiet
  • Making your organisation seem modern and innovative

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5. What is a virtual queue?

A virtual queue, also known as electronic queue management or ticketing queue system, is used in environments where queues are formed in unpredictable and varying locations. There are different types of virtual queues:

kioskTicketed - A customer takes a ticket upon entry. Your number is placed in a virtual queue and comes up on a screen when a desk has become available. Benefits include being able to streamline the type of service you’re there for, and you should be able to sit and wait until you’re called.

 

consistentData entry - The customer registers their information themselves on a touch screen and can customise what service they’re after. This will personalise the service and reduce wait times. 

 

self serviceTelephone call back - Many call centres manage a high influx of calls by using a virtual queuing system that gives people the option to hang up and let the system maintain their place in the queue.

 

admin
Online check in - 
Checking in online or using an app means customers can wait anywhere. 


Using a digital queue instead of a physical one means customers have the freedom to sit while they wait or even go out and do some chores until they are summoned to approach a desk. It takes the stress out of waiting. 
Read more about virtual queues here.

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6. What is a queue management App?

notificationsAll you need to turn an impatient queue into a relaxed waiting environment is the right accessible technology. And what better technology to use than one that people are already carrying around with them in their pockets and handbags? Their mobile phones.

A queue management app will allow customers to check in to your service from home. They can also connect to your organisation’s kiosk for dual-overhead queue management.

A simple queue management app is better than tickets and sign in sheets for a number of reasons. Read more about how a queue management app can improve your customer experience here.

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7. What are the benefits of having a Queue Management App?

Using technology already in your customer’s pockets has a myriad of benefits. A simple queue management app can improve your customer experiences by: 

1Updating customers on their place in the queue
If customers are wandering the store or sitting waiting for their turn, an app can tell them where they are in the line and serves as solid proof that all those other people waiting aren’t ahead of them. It gives peace of mind.

2Removing uncertainty of infinite wait time
It has been proven that uncertain wait times seem longer than actual wait times. A queue management app can estimate the amount of time it will take to get to each customer.

3Keeping customers entertained during the wait.
Occupied time seems shorter than idle time. If your customers don’t like your magazines and didn’t bring a book, they could be getting impatient. A queue management app can give them something to look at and interact with while they wait.

4Giving customers the freedom to leave and return
A queue management app gives customers the freedom to leave your organisation while they wait for their turn. By knowing how long they have to wait, they can work out if they have time to pop out for a coffee or to run some errands, and since they’ll keep their mobile with them, they can keep track of where they are in the queue while they’re out and about. This will also bring down the crowding inside your organisation.

5Allowing customers to reschedule if necessary
Sometime customers will realise they need to reschedule after checking in, perhaps if the wait time is longer than they anticipated. The app will allow them to reschedule and move on quickly, rather than waiting around getting more worried until they finally have to run.

If your business has been seeing problems with long wait times and agitated customers, using a queue management app can transform the wait experience and make the entire process more convenient for both customers and your staff who work hard to provide a good service.

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8. The power of queue analytics

qm blogDo you know how many people are standing in your waiting lines at any given moment? How long will they be waiting? How long is too long? At what point are your queues hurting your service experience and resulting in dissatisfied customers?

The answers to these questions are important to service centre managers because customers despise waiting in queues and unhappy customers can have a lasting negative effect on your organisation.

In a recent study, 95% of respondents said they usually tell at least one other person about a bad customer experience.

So how do you get answers to those questions above? Implementing a queue management system will provide you with all the information you need so you can make informed decisions that will benefit your customers, staff and bottom line.

With real-time data for performance indicators such as customer counts, wait times, traffic trends, service point utilisation, arrival rates and service rates and times, organisations are empowered to make informed decisions on how best to serve customers.

This real-time data will improve both front-end and back-end operations.

Nexa’s queue management solution can be tailored to meet your simple or complex needs. Nexa has a suite of tools to help manage and analyse the flow of customers in your service centre and optimise your customer experience.

9.  An introduction to NEXA’s Queue Management system

Nexa’s Queue Management Tools for efficient customer flow include:

  • Appointment scheduling. Pre-book appointments via web or mobile and receive SMS notifications. This helps reduce congestion and eliminates physical queues.
  • From a simple ticketing solution to manage queues to prioritised queuing, appointment-based line management, and any other complex routing logic that your organisation may require.
  • Keep the human touch with a concierge service to help ‘queue bust’ and route customers.
  • Staff planner. Optimise your staff based on actual demand, current goals and future trends.
  • Customer visit management app. Customers can manage the entire process via the app – starting with booking an appointment to providing feedback.
  • Customer communications. Manage customer expectations and preparedness by staying in touch throughout the process. Text message alerts and updates help customers.
  • Digital signage. Combine valuable information for waiting customers with targeted messages and advertising to drive revenue. It also doubles up as a source of entertainment.
  • Customer feedback. Customise your feedback questions to gather relevant data for your organisation, in real-time.

Whether you have patients, students, rate payers or customers waiting in your service centre, we can help make every interaction matter. Contact us today to find out more.

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The fundamentals of Queue Management