25 / 01 / 20

What is Virtual Queuing?

One of the main types of queuing is virtual queuing, but what does it exactly stand for, and how does it differentiate compared to other types of queuing principles? In this blog post, you can learn about the important factors when designing a virtual queue, the benefits of virtual queuing, and when it is the most suitable to use.


People spend between 2 to 5 years their life waiting in line for service. That’s between 17 to 43 thousand hours(!) of one’s life - waiting. The dominant cost of all this waiting is an emotional one: stress, boredom, and the nagging sensation that one’s life is slipping away. Reality is that the only thing that customers want to queue for is the next song that will play on their smartphones. And for a service provider, all this waiting is eroding the customer experience and thus also the brand.


The reason queues form is simple - there are more customers than people to serve them. How customers are queuing, though, depends on a range of factors, and queuing principles.


Productivity or Customer Service? 

Queuing principles depend on the service provider’s KPIs


The type of queuing principle most appropriate in a specific environment ultimately depends on the service provider’s KPIs. A service provider prioritizing productivity will often choose a different queuing principle than a service provider prioritizing customer satisfaction. Given that the choice of queuing principle has such a significant impact on the customer journey it’s paramount to understand the basics of different types of queues. Queuing principles are classified into two main categories, linear and virtual queuing.


Virtual queuing, what’s does it mean?


Before Qmatic introduced the first virtual queuing system, customers had no choice but to engage in the dubious sport of choosing the right line. Virtual queuing is very different. Virtual queuing means that the customer is identified upon arrival by name, social security number, or other, and placed in a “virtual queue”. The virtual queue is invisible in the sense that customers are not confined to any waiting spot, so they don’t know what position they have in the queue relative to others. The customer’s place in the virtual queue is secured by an identifier like a printed ticket or managed through their mobile as an SMS, Mobile Ticket or Queuing app. The identifier is often given upon arrival but can be provided in advance when booking an appointment. As a consequence of the secured place in the queue, there is no need for a physical waiting line.


Important factors when designing a virtual queue


Contrary to popular belief, the virtual queue could decrease productivity and increase waiting time in some environments if not designed in a proper way. A customer sitting in a waiting area might need more time to get to the service point than a customer waiting in a line. Also, if the customer is reading a magazine or filling out some forms, the distraction can result in further time delays. In a worst-case scenario, the customer might have left before receiving service, in which case the staff will spend valuable time waiting for a customer who will not show up. But when properly design to the right environment, customers and staff can benefit greatly from having a virtual queue.


Benefits of virtual queuing


One of the main benefits of virtual queuing is that customers can either sit down in a comfortable waiting area or browse around without the risk of losing your place in the virtual queue. This benefit both customers and the company in a multitude of ways:


  1. Cross or up-sell opportunities when customers can move freely and feel relaxed

In a retail environment, customers can browse around freely in the store, feeling relaxed and enjoy a comfortable environment, while taking part in other products and materials, which provides upsell and cross-sell opportunities.


  1. Reduce perceived wait times and keep customers informed

Businesses and organizations that implement a virtual queue can reduce the perceived wait times and enhance the communication with customers when waiting, in a way that engages and informs through Digital Signage. By providing information, such as queue status information and other information, customers and visitors that are actively waiting in your environment will be less uncertain and feel more prepared for the visit.


  1. Gather invaluable data

Through virtual queuing, you can gather invaluable data which can vastly improve customer satisfaction and operational efficiency by predicting wait times and provide accurate forecasting and staffing needs. This will result in significant cost savings.


When is virtual queuing most suitable?


The situations where virtual queuing is most suitable is when used in environments with longer waiting times. It’s also well suited to environments with longer service times as the effect of a slow approach by a customer has a minor effect on the total time spent by the service staff on that customer. This is typically the case in the public and healthcare sectors. In the financial sector, this environment is found among advisory services.


Virtual queuing is also the preferred choice when the service provider wants to identify customers before approaching the staff for preparations.

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