Five ways to make waiting in line a better experience

By Perry Kuklin, Lavi Industries

Whether you're the type to make New Year's resolutions or not, every business owner and manager would like to see increased profits and happier, satisfied customers every year and every day. Resolve to make these goals happen by creating a better waiting line experience in 2014 in five easy ways:

1. Focus on entertainment

Distraction is the name of the game when it comes to a waiting line. And since today's culture is attuned to any type of screen action, populating your waiting lines with digital displays will keep their attention on what's playing and keep their minds off of the wait itself.

Entertainment can literally include cartoons, talk shows, or cooking programs, but you can also take advantage of your captive audience and squeeze in promotional screens, commercials, or notices about upcoming specials. Digital displays are versatile and can be altered to suit your audience depending on the time or day.

2. Go virtual with it

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Virtual queuing is one place where many businesses are still dragging their feet. How could this "free for all" kind of environment possibly work to your advantage if you've long been dependent on a physical waiting line?

Don't ever forget how much people value their time and freedom — creating a virtual queue eliminates the need for anyone to actually "feel" like they're waiting and stuck in a line. Virtual queues allow customers to sit down, take care of other needs while waiting, and simply appreciate the opportunity to do whatever they like without being subject to the ebbs and flows of a waiting line.

3. Mind your queues

Waiting line resolutions aren't only about changing things for your customers; resolutions can also be about improving operations on the managerial side of things which ultimately benefits your establishment and contributes to the satisfaction of your customers.

Real-time queue monitoring allows queue managers to keep an eye on what's happening in each line at any period of time. Text, email, or other types of alerts can be set to notify managers when elements fall out of compliance — service agents are going too slow, lines are getting too long, and so on. Queue monitoring also establishes historical records that offer invaluable intelligence to managers so they can predict the busiest and slowest times and adjust staff and line configurations accordingly. 

4. Bring mobile into the mix

Connect with your customers in the way they're most accessible today — via their smartphones. This can mean adding a mobile element to virtual queuing, allowing customers to register for their place in line via their phone and communicate with service agents via text when their turn is imminent.

The entertainment resolutions above can also include a mobile element, with digital screens noting ways customers can speed up, improve, or enhance their experience with your business by taking advantage of online options (sign-ups for coupons, discount cards, future promotions, and, of course, future waits in line).

5. Combine digital signage and merchandising

If you're a retailer, this waiting line resolution is a no-brainer. People can see an item and note its advantages on their own, but actually seeing a product in action can solidify a sale that might have been iffy up to that point. Think about it: E-tailers use video to boost conversion rates and up sales-per-transaction; offline businesses can easily do the same.

Use those handy digital displays to offer up video of a hot item identifying its versatility, and even show video endorsements from satisfied customers. With this type of media playing alongside in-line merchandising displays, you'll take care of two very important waiting line needs: distracting customers and increasing sales.

The waiting line is a customer's last impression of your business (think retailers) and, in some cases, waiting lines make up the bulk of a customer's experience with your establishment (think airports). There are always ways to improve your interactions with the people who patronize your business, and making changes to how your queue operates is one of the smartest places to start.

Perry Kuklin is the Director of Marketing and Business Development for Lavi Industries, a provider of public guidance and crowd control solutions. Photo by David Morris.

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User Comments – Give us your opinion!
  • james cage
    Great advice, to engage customers in store better services such as this will definitely help bring back customers. I work for McGladrey and there's a whitepaper on our website about future retailing that may interest readers of this article. Thinking about tomorrow: Post-recession strategies for retailers @
  • Thibaut Humbert
    Retailer can also look into self-scanning options for customers to shorten the lines and accelerate checkout. It can even be done with NFC-shopping nowadays...
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