Are Long Wait Times or Neglected Customers Hurting Your Bottom Line?

Retailers know that personalization is the key to boosting sales and gaining loyalty among a fickle consumer base. But not all brands have been able to capture shopper attention in the moment of interest, especially during the in-store experience. TimeTrade research from 2018 found that nearly half of survey respondents found it “difficult to get onsite assistance from a knowledgeable store associate in a timely manner,” and 74% say they always or frequently leave without making a purchase when this happens. Exceeding expectations is especially important when attracting Millennials. Research finds that 75% of this important demographic shops in stores at least once a week.

Regardless of your target customer, it’s important to know who is walking in the door and what they need. In addition, retailers need the ability to better identify gaps in service, such as customers left waiting, or otherwise unsatisfactory service. While CRMs and other systems promise a one-stop shop for all customer insights, they lack the tools to provide visibility for in-store experiences. That’s where a queue management solution comes in. Providing customers the ability to schedule a visit prior to walking in the store or providing a lobby kiosk which lets customers sign in, put their name on a waiting list, and immediately see actual wait times go a long way in making customers feel welcome.

Here are the signs that your business is missing out on revenue opportunities due to long lines or lack of visibility into customer needs.

5 Signs You Need Queue Management

Employee utilization rates fluctuate
Even if you are using predicting staffing software to help you prepare weekly or monthly schedules, there are still variables that are hard to plan for. This is especially important for retailers including box stores or beauty brands that provide in-store personalized demos or time slots to meet with customers or prospects. A queue manager is ideal if walk-in traffic often overwhelms staff on the floor, or there are days when booked appointments and walk-in volume interfere with schedules and productivity.

The upside to a solution that provides customers the ability to sign up at a kiosk when they enter the store is increased visibility for both employees and customers. The customer sees an immediate and accurate snapshot of the wait time and where they fall on the list, and employees and managers can better understand what the day looks like and how to plan on an hour-by-hour basis. In addition, walk-in customers have the opportunity to either leave their name on the digital list or see available options to schedule an appointment for another time, which helps ease consumer frustration on busy days.

Retail locations look busy, but sales don’t match
Retailers know they are missing out on immediate feedback, but don’t always have the tools to understand what portion of foot traffic was satisfied versus who left without being helped. To gain better visibility and accurately understand in-store traffic and sales, you need a way to capture names as people enter the store. Consider a queue manager the in-person equivalent of online cookies.

By understanding who walks in and what they need, you and your staff have more power to plan accordingly, whether that means allocating more or different resources or more effectively communicating with customers and offering them advanced options or appointments for in-store visits.

Employees are unprepared for appointments
For employees who regularly meet with customers, the ability to greet those customers, beyond knowing their first name is key to developing relationships and building loyalty. If staff are regularly scrambling or spend the first few minutes asking questions to collect basic information (that a customer can easily submit ahead of time) they are wasting both their time and the customer’s time.

Taking info at the time a customer schedules an advanced appointment, or when they put their name on a digital waitlist, ensures that meetings are more productive, and customers feel valued. It also enables companies to best match employees with customers based on skill level and customer need.

Classes or events feel disorganized
If a customer makes a point to register for an in-store experience, brands need to do everything possible to wow them, even before arrival. If you aren’t doing anything pre-event, or limit your interaction to simply sending an e-mail reminder, you’re missing out on the potential to win loyalty and revenue.

A queue manager solution will help from the moment someone signs up, all the way through post-event follow-up. Reminders can be set up to alert attendees, and also provide pre-event information or checklists. The moment a customer arrives they can either sign in via a kiosk or with an employee using a handheld device and immediately be greeted and directed to next steps without a feeling lost in a pool of people waiting around for instruction.

And the follow-up is just as key to nailing the in-person experience. By understanding who attended what session and having the ability to combine that info with purchasing data, retailers have the opportunity to provide a personalized, white glove experience, while the customer experiences a seamless transaction from sign-up to post-event communication.

Secret Shopper reports vary dramatically
Secret shopper reports have helped many retail locations make changes for the better, but the scale is small. A few secret shoppers a month, or even a week, by location don’t accurately reflect real-time consumer sentiment. In addition, this doesn’t provide enough data to show trends (good or bad). And without accurate data, you can’t implement solutions to address real problems.

Adding tools to the in-store experience, such as capturing names, the reason for visit, or adding a box to let customer address problem with a visit, ensure you are capturing more accurate data in real-time. Not only will this let you address problems on the spot but builds a historical record that is necessary for benchmarking.

Learn more about queue management solutions and how they will keep happy customers streaming through the doors.

Written by Chris Carroll

I'm the Product Marketing Manager at TimeTrade. I focus on the customer experience of the product and use our customer learnings to help update our workflows and create materials to help train our users. I also focus on our client facing marketing programs, social media initiatives, and content curation.

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