virtual queuing and virtual queues

What Is Virtual Queuing? A Guide to Virtual Queues

Despite what you may be thinking, virtual queuing has nothing to do with virtual reality. (Please ignore the image above.) In the context of queuing, “virtual” means “not physically present”.

Thus, the difference between a physical and a virtual queue is whether you need to personally line up.

Let’s see how virtual queues actually work and why more and more businesses turn their attention to virtual queuing systems.

How virtual queuing works

How customers join a virtual queue

Virtual queueing takes full advantage of digital solutions and devices. Some companies prefer to have a simple, one-click mobile queuing app.

Other companies have self sign-in kiosks or tablets installed at the entrance of their locations. A customer fills out their information, enters a virtual queue, and then can go about their day.

Lastly, there are companies which have a designated customer greeter who takes care of registering new visitors.

We at Qminder have found that a hybrid variant works best. Customers do need to the self-service option and a mobile access. At the same time, having a greeter helps establish that empathetic bond.

It is also a good idea to have a special website communicating the best times for a visit to your customers. For example, with just one page, Qminder’s Visit Planner shows:

1. The current status of your location: open/closed/busy.
2. The number of visitors currently waiting to be served.
3. The average waiting time.
4. Recommended times for a visit.
5. Opening hours and schedule of the location.
6. The contacts and a map.

The essential elements of virtual queuing

Virtual queues help smooth out the rough corners of the waiting experience. Virtual queuing aims to make your service great from the first step inside your location.

  • Customer self-service. Since customers add themselves to the queue, the process is much faster and

  • Service selection. During sign-in, customers can freely choose which services they need. This helps employees offer

  • Predicted wait times. The system takes into account all customers currently in queue and calculates the average wait time. Having the concrete numbers helps reduce the perceived wait time, as well.

  • Digital signage. In-store service screens show the current progress of a waitlist, giving visitors a better estimate on how long their need to wait for their turn.

  • SMS notifications. Text messages alert the customers of their turn. This gives them freedom to browse the store and window-shop.

  • Multilingual interface. The modern customer base tends to be very diverse, so giving visitors the option to choose their preferred language is a must.

For employees, virtual queuing offers a better way of managing human resources and helps improve the manner in which your business interacts with customers.

  • A multichannel, centralized dashboard. Employees can access the virtual queuing system from multiple devices, allowing for zero interruptions in their service flow.

  • Automated customer assignment. In truth, customer assignment in virtual queue systems should be both automated and manual. Fully-automated most of the time, with the option to make manual adjustments based on the service context (for example, move a customer to a different line that better corresponds with their needs).

  • Staff resources allocation. Knowing how many visitors have signed up for each service selection helps better plan out staff availability.

  • Customer labeling and sorting. The ability to sort customers based on their unique needs allows to offer more personalized experiences. Labels and custom input fields make customer categorization a breeze.

  • Performance reports. The system captures real-time data and stores historical insights (wait times, service times, number of visitors, etc.), which helps make better business and staff-related decisions.

The benefits of virtual queues

By the virtue of not shackling your customers down to a location, virtual queues provide a lot of freedom.

Why does this freedom matter? Because the result is Parkinson’s Law in action:

Liberation of resources results in reinvesting these same resources back into the original context.

free up customer time

In other words, once you give them back their time, your customers will often reward you by spending this time to window-shop and browse your store. Ideally, this leads to increased revenue through cross-selling, impulse purchases, and taking note of promotions.

In total, there are 9 key benefits of virtual queues:

1. Enhance customer flow.
2. Decrease wait time and service time.
3. Reduce perceived wait time.
4. Maintain the rules of fair queuing.
5. Monitor and improve staff performance.
6. Increase operational efficiency.
7. Offer a more personalized service experience.
8. Eliminate customer anxiety.
9. Increase customer satisfaction.

Virtual queues empower your customers with the freedom to choose how they interact with your business, while enhancing your ability to provide great service experiences.

Virtual queues used in different industries

Virtual queuing in retail

This is the most basic use case, as virtual queuing applies itself incredibly well to retail. The benefits that retail gets from virtual queue management are also fairly straightforward.

Reduced wait times and decreased perceived wait times are two important perks that help keep frustration and anxiety at bay.

Moreover, real-time analytics help improve the team’s productivity and make informed decisions based on the actual data. What gets measured, gets managed.

Lastly, the ability to communicate with customers through text messages not only helps inform them of delays, but also establish a bond. Now more than ever, people crave authentic interactions with businesses.

Success story: GeekHampton Retail Queue Management Solution

Virtual queuing in banks

Despite the rapid growth of online banking, in-person banking remains strong — 60% of American still prefer opening a new account in person to using a digital device. And where there are physical lines, there is anxiety, confusion and dissatisfaction.

Virtual queuing helps banks eliminate the drawbacks of physical waiting lines and give time back to their customers.

Moreover, a virtual queuing system gives bank tellers more service control. Bank employees can offer a higher level of personalized service, as well as reroute customers to a different service agent based on their needs.

Success story: LHV: Managing 170,000+ Clients With a Digital Queuing System

Virtual queuing in healthcare

By significantly reducing wait time, virtual queue systems help deliver an exceptional patient experience. In addition to that, they also improve the experience for caregivers.

Real-time virtual queues help improve the operational efficiency at your hospital or clinic. Hospital staffers spend less time managing the waiting room — by letting the patients and the system take care of registrations — and more time delivering high-quality care.

The staff can communicate with patients through text messages. Patients are notified of delays and estimated wait times, reducing frustration and improving the visitor flow.

Success story: St. John’s Medical Center: The Epitome of Patient-Centered Care

Virtual queuing in universities

Traditional, outdated ways of queue management, such as stanchions and paper tickets, don’t let you effectively manage long student lines. Students expect high-quality service and tend to be more vocal about not receiving satisfactory experiences.

Virtual queues reduce physical traffic in the registrar’s office, library and other key locations at educational facilities. The administration can plan their workload more efficiently while preventing service bottlenecks from forming.

Employing a virtual queue system allows your staff to focus on their tasks, and your students to focus on their studies.

Success story: La Cité Student Management

Virtual queuing in government offices

Wait time is one of the biggest universal criticisms applied to government offices. Having a virtual queuing tool in place helps mitigate that while also providing a more personal experience.

A self-service sign-in solution drastically improves the citizen flow, not only reducing overall wait times, but also cutting down on operational costs.

Real-time updates and text messages keep visitors informed, while in-depth service metrics help understand the situation better. Employees get insights into the actual numbers regarding no-shows, walkaways, service duration, etc.

Government offices have to keep public perception and visitor satisfaction in mind, and virtual queuing is the easiest way to satisfy the crowds.

Success story: City of Manhattan Beach Visitor Management

Virtual queueing in click & collect stores

The shoppers that use click & collect service, by and large, expect a quick in-and-out experience. That means next to zero waiting in line, coupled with fast delivery.

80% of C&C consumers expect to pick up their item in under 10 minutes from the time they enter the store. Failing that, you risk losing a repeat customer — and a dozen potential customers, who will be dissuaded by the one you dissatisfied.

A virtual queue helps keep things on track. Slow and steady may win the race, but winning over hearts is another thing entirely.

With virtual queuing, click & collect providers get an enormous boost in their speed of delivery while being able to personalize their service to a greater extent.

Success story: How Takealot Leverages Queuing Software to Enhance Order Collection

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Virtual queuing is a game-changer when it comes to waiting experiences. Companies can no longer fly by the seat of their pants, and need to start investing in powerful, data-driven queue management solutions.

If you’re interested in trying virtual queuing out, a . We offer a 14-day fully-featured subscription, no credit card required and no strings attached.

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