Anders Nilsson, CEO of Starbit, and Noel Sheppard, General Manager at Distec, discuss how smart queue management systems help businesses adhere to COVID-19 regulations whilst improving business efficiency and the customer experience
When the country went into lockdown, first in March 2020 and then again in November of the same year, 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.
While many retailers took this opportunity to double down on their online marketplace, for some this is not an option. Those businesses whose livelihood relies on physical premises are increasingly turning to technology, for example smart queuing systems, 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. 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, can we expect the appetite to grow even faster?
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 other 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 process. They do this by creating more time for each individual sale or service, reducing bottlenecks, and helping to produce a better interaction 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 system 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.