Customer flow management is the practice of effectively guiding and overseeing the movement of people around a customer-facing environment. This could be a queue in a grocery store or a piece of signage directing passengers in an airport.
No matter the industry, it’s how queues are dealt with that becomes the issue, rather than the fact we must queue at all. In fact, for customers to be dealt with efficiently, supply and demand need to kept in a careful balance.
No queue usually means too many staff, which is clearly inefficient. A long queue usually means too few staff, which is clearly no good for customer satisfaction and retention.
Bad queuing experiences can also lead to a drop in staff productivity, smaller profits and in extreme cases, irreversible customer dissatisfaction that discourages people from returning. Finding the right methods to handle customer flow can be difficult; no two businesses are the same and often these solutions must accommodate both peaks and troughs in queuing times.
Whilst COVID-19 safety measures have mostly been lifted, there are still some sectors where certain measures remain necessary when it comes to customer flow management.
7 ways to improve customer flow management
1). Continue to make customers feel confident and safe
COVID-19 has seriously affected your customers’ confidence. They are far more conscious of the space they are leaving to the people around them, or when they last sanitised their hands. So it’s important that your queue is setup to help reassure them that your queue is a safe place to be.
A couple of ways to do this include:
Custom queuing barrier webbing to reinforce your message to your customers. Whilst previously this could have been a ‘Hands Face Space’ message, for example, this could now be altered to whatever message you feel would be most appropriate to reassure your customers. Check out our customisable webbing that can be added to any new or existing Tensabarrier®. *Note that the webbing can be entirely customised to show any messaging and graphics that you would like.
Placing hand sanitiser throughout your queue.Hand sanitiser remains one of the best ways to ensure customers are giving themselves that extra layer of protection. Giving customers plenty of opportunities to use hand sanitiser not only ensures that their hands are clean, but it also helps to ease any anxiety. Seeing other customers use the hand sanitiser will help them to feel more at ease knowing that everybody is taking the same precautions.
The Tensator Customisable Hand Sanitiser Bracket can be placed on any Tensabarrier® or any post with a 2.5″ diameter. The bracket allows you to place hand sanitiser dispensers on top of queueing posts, which could be used as part of a queue or in other individual site applications.
2). Occupy the time in the queue and shorten perceived wait times
If staff shortages and other logistical factors mean that you can’t physically shorten queuing wait times – the next best solution is to distract queuers and make their perceived waiting time shorter.
Turn customer flow into cash flow with our In-Queue Merchandising system. This solution can be placed in front of the point of sale to capture last-minute impulse purchase revenues from waiting customers. In fact, it’s been proven to boost impulse sales up to 400%.
3). Reduce ‘queuing anxiety’ by making the wait time known
We’ve all fallen victim to ‘queuing anxiety’ at least once or twice as a customer – when you have no way of estimating how long it will take for you to be served. It’s a frustrating experience for customers, and can deter people from even joining a queue.
Taking things back to basics and altering your current queue design can make a real difference when it comes to customer flow management. It’s important to consider both peaks and troughs in queue lengths – is your waiting area able to accommodate both eventualities?
Our Tensabarrier® range is portable and can be brought out/taken away depending on queuing levels. The new Universal Base ensures that wheelchair users, pushchairs and trolleys have no difficulty navigating around the post. As the webbing is fully customisable, it can be designed to remain in keeping with any brand requirements.
5). Consider a ticketing queue system
For those with longer service times or smaller queuing areas, why not consider a ticketing queue system?
Virtual Queuing Solutions (VQMS) from Tensator® provide businesses with the ability to take the pressure away from queuing. Customers take a ticket in the order that they arrive, leaving them free to browse or relax whilst they wait for their ticket number to be called.
6). Promote ‘queue fairness’
Allowing customers the opportunity to queue jump can cause annoyance to others who’ve waited fairly. Tips to remove the possibility of queue jumping include creating a single line queue – this format of queuing encourages a ‘first come, first served’ queuing culture and avoids the possibility of allowing people to queue jump.
7). Anticipate any upcoming changes
There are plans on the horizon for the UK government to introduce the NHS COVID pass for nightclubs and other larger venues. It remains to be seen how this would be implemented by venues, however, it’s safe to assume it would involve additional queuing to allow venue staff to carry out all necessary checks.
It’s important to evaluate your venue set-up and consider what challenges this could present to your customer flow management to accommodate these checks and ensure customer satisfaction and safety remain paramount.
Additional Tensabarrier® Post Top Signage may be necessary to keep customers informed. Your own messaging can be easily inserted into the pocket and then slot the sign cone on top of any Tensabarrier® to create an instant sign for your queue.
As the summer comes to an end and the cold, darker evenings set in, venues with an outdoor queue setting will want to incorporate Nightview™ Reflective Webbing into their queuing system to improve visibility on narrow pavements during low-light when a road is nearby and queuing customers are at risk of accident with passing traffic.
Further information on how to improve customer flow management and queuing systems
For more information on how we can help to improve customer flow management – why not take a look at our brand new queue management guide? To download, please click below.
This article was originally published on December 4th 2020, and has been updated on 10th September 2021.
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Tensator® has been leading the customer journey since 1881. Today, we provide customer experience management consulting and turnkey queue flow solutions to customers in over 150 countries around the world.
Our ability to deliver strategic solutions with a superior ROI has made us a preferred supplier for large-scale enterprises that depend on the effective movement and organisation of people.