Fight of the Walk-In: Scheduled Vs Un-Scheduled Appointments

The benefits of online appointment scheduling for consumer retail, banks, and credit unions are well documented and include higher sales, loyal customers and members, and more engaged employees. But with most locations, there is a constant mix of pre-scheduled customers and walk-in traffic that must be engaged. This inconsistent visitor traffic can often lead to crowded lobbies and waiting areas, consumer confusion, and frazzled employees who need to balance a full calendar of scheduled meetings with lines of walk-in customers, too. 

There is a more efficient way to manage customer expectations and build relationships that drive high-value sales. Queue Manager, part of the TimeTrade Scheduler Platform, improves in-person experiences by managing on-site traffic while allowing employees to better plan their day and focus on one task and one customer at a time.  

Here’s how Queue Manager helps solves persistent walk-in issues so brands can provide customers with meaningful omnichannel experience while letting them decide when and how to interact.  

Deliver Consistent and Transparent Service

With more choices today, customers’ expectations have skyrocketed, and one of the first things they notice is the difference in the way a brand interacts with them online and off. A major complaint from customers is uneven service when transitioning from online interactions to in-person experiences. Customers also want the ability to walk into a store, bank, or credit union to meet with an employee and have their questions answered without having a long wait.

Bridge the physical to digital divide. Intelligent Online Appointment Scheduling is one of the best ways to offer transparency to all waiting customers. With the addition of Queue Manager to your scheduling platform, it’s possible for those who book in advance and those who walk-in without a prior appointment to experience the same personalized and pleasant interactions.  

Queue Manager’s in-store kiosk lets those with scheduled appointments check-in, alerting the right staff. Additionally, walk-ins can add name to queue, see current queue lengths with accurate wait times.  

Adjust Queue Placement and Schedule Future Appointments in Real Time

For most brands, the trickiest part of bridging the digital divide is managing in-person flow in real time in a way that exceeds customer expectations. The right tools and access to information make it just as easy to welcome and interact with guests who walk in without an appointment as it is to interact with customers online.

Provide accurate wait times & promote customers in queue. With Queue Manager, the system automatically adjusts estimated wait times based on real-time scenarios, including current number of people in line, appointment lengths, current appointments in service, and other variables. The intelligent system then makes adjustments on the fly when there are cancelations or a change in arrival times, making it easier to bump up a walk-in if there’s a last-minute opening or send a notification to someone who will be serviced soon. 

Encourage future appointments. If wait times are long, associates using Concierge Mobile can also prompt walk-in customers to schedule a future appointment later that day or week, at a time that’s convenient for them. In addition to keeping customers up-to-date, the practice also helps employees prepare for appointments, ultimately making meetings run smoother and more efficient.  

Adapt Business Processes as Needed. Brands with heavy foot traffic often have trouble accurately measuring location activity. Managers complain of a data black hole, with little knowledge of who is walking in, who leaves without being helped, or insight into what kinds of interactions drive high-value sales. Brands who adopt the right tools will gain powerful insights enabling them to change course as needed. The combination of Intelligent Online Appointment Scheduling with Queue Manager gives branch managers more control.  

Manage customer behavior. Set up general guidelines with the scheduling system to direct customer behavior in a way that benefits both customers and employees. For example, a bank with high walk-in volumes at lunchtime can decrease the availability of-prescheduled appointments during that time of day, enabling employees the chance to meet with those who arrive without an appointment.  

If your location is overwhelmed with walks that don’t fit typical patterns, encourage the adoption of appointment scheduling by promoting advanced, online appointments through email marketing and on location signage. 

In addition, automatic reminders and notifications, which can be personalized by appointment type, significantly reduces no-show rates.  Reminders better prepare customers ahead of the meeting, and with more on-time arrivals, employees have better control over their day.   

Limit employee meeting availability. Another way to mix walk-ins and pre-scheduled customers during times of known heavy traffic is to limit the number of employee resources who can take appointments during rush times. You can experiment with allowing 50%-70% of on-site staff to accept scheduled appointments while freeing up remaining staff to focus on walk-ins. 

Optimize operations to make informed decisions. Review analytics to staff up or down when needed and gain a better understanding of what kinds of employees or specialist you need at which location. With a better understanding of peak customer trends, you can also make changes to non-essential functions like weekly staff meetings or use the information to better schedule employee breaks or vacations.  

Combining these tips above with TimeTrade’s Queue Manager will help you provide an amazing customer experience for both pre-scheduled and walk-in visitors.

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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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