Is this the end of the queue? How to Improve Operations with Smart Queue Management
Anders Nilsson, CEO of Starbit, and Noel Sheppard, General Manager at Distec, discuss how smart queue management systems are helping businesses in retail, hospitality and healthcare industries to adhere to COVID-19 regulations whilst improving business efficiency and the customer experience
When the country went into lockdown, first in March, and then again in November, retailers, hotels and restauranteurs, as well as healthcare establishments like doctors surgeries and dentists, were forced to close their doors and suffer the associated loss in revenue. When they were allowed to reopen, it was with the caveat of adhering to a strict set of rules designed to limit the spread of COVID-19. This meant increased spending in order to provide training, extra staff, signage, and equipment to implement these measures while simultaneously allowing fewer people into their shops, decreasing footfall and turnover. Coupled with the general decrease in visitors to town centres, this means that far fewer people are shopping or eating on the high street and when they do, they want to get in and out as quickly as possible.
While many retailers have taken this opportunity to double down on their online marketplace, for some this is not an option. This means that it is important not to forget about physical shops, as well as restaurants and other retail and hospitality environments who rely on in-person custom to survive. These businesses are turning to technological advances to help them in these troubled times. The demand for queue management systems has been growing steadily in recent years and is projected to grow at an even faster rate; from USD 111.35Mn in 2019 to USD 173.22Mn by 2027.
The implementation of smart queue technology improves efficiency, productivity and customer satisfaction. But now that queue management has become a safety issue as well as a business issue, we can expect the market to grow even faster.
With this is mind, what can these businesses be doing to help their customers shop and access their services confidently and safely in these unprecedented times?
Why use technology to manage customer flow?
A positive way to keep your business running is to utilise a smart queue system. These can be deployed in a number of retail, hospitality and customer service environments including doctors, hospitals and dentists offices.
Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, smart queue systems promised, and delivered, a smoother, less stressful and more efficient business. They do this by creating more time for each individual sale or service, reducing bottlenecks and helping to create a better flow for both staff and customers.
The best systems should be able to manage several queues at the same time, automate the balance of queuing time, offer a mobile queue option, online statistics and a much more hygienic air swipe option.
Air swipe technology
Some smart queue systems are advanced enough to offer air swipe technology at their stations. This is particularly important now, as the customers can make choices without touching the screen, therefore reducing the risk of contamination. Pre-mapped choices give the customers options to swipe up, down, left, and right to navigate the system and find whatever they need.
The mobile queue option is another standout innovation for keeping customers safe in the pandemic. It means that customers can keep their place in the queue without having to stand in line. They can scan a QR code and receive a text telling them in good time when their turn is. This means that they can minimise the amount of time they spend in proximity to other customers or patients and members of staff.
In environments where customers would typically be waiting for an appointment or order, for example, pharmacies and opticians, you can often expect to find waiting rooms or other dedicated seating to accommodate those customers. Current guidelines mean we should not ask people to crowd in a waiting room or to sit close together on publicly available chairs. Smart queue management systems will be especially useful in this instance, empowering patients to arrive at exactly the right time for their appointment, reducing the need for waiting areas and consequently the chance of contamination.
As well as helping them to operate safely during the pandemic, another huge benefit for the businesses themselves is the analytics they can receive from these systems. Statistical updates can be presented on an ongoing basis. This gives management an opportunity to spot trends and patterns, allowing them to plan for intensive hours, tailoring staff levels and ensuring service remains quick and bottlenecks are avoided even at the busiest times.
COVID-19 has shocked the high street into large-scale change, and unfortunately, some businesses have struggled to stay afloat. All of these measures taken together will help businesses ensure repeat custom and allow them to increase and monitor the profitable footfall through their establishments throughout the pandemic and beyond.
To learn more about Smart Queue Management Systems, contact us here