Turn your queues into a competitive advantage
By Jinene Clark, GM at Safer Lines Queue Management Software for Retailers
“I love standing in line,” said no one. Ever. And yet, in this COVID-19 era, queues are even worse. Store capacity limits and fewer retail options have concentrated consumers into queues stretching down the sidewalk. For open retailers, this is both a blessing and a curse.
Queues do not have to be a necessary evil of our time. Retailers can, and should, take the opportunity to turn queues into a competitive advantage. Surprisingly, no major chain has yet to do so. As it stands, most leading U.S., NZ, and AU retailers feel roped-off lines and asking customers to stand 2m apart is sufficient.
It’s not. Consumers aren’t posting stories on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter bragging about how long they are waiting. The truth is just the opposite. Imagine if the customers’ queueing experience was so convenient and positive they were bragging about it? It’s for this objective that we built Safer Lines queue management software for retailers.
Options abound, but most don’t work easily
Several startups have debuted, some offering SMS-to-queue options. In New Zealand and Australia particularly, SMS is prohibitively expensive to implement for any retailer with scale.
Other ventures prioritise QR Codes. QR codes offer simple technology, but consumers are hesitant to use them (most don’t even realise they have a QR Code reader built into their phone!).
A variety of “app” solutions have also bubbled up. For consumers, downloading “another” app on their phone is both inefficient and frustrating.
It’s about the customer experience
Safer Lines was purpose-built to be a best-in-class queuing solution for retailers. And it’s all about the user experience - to enhance and simplify queuing, not add another step.
No apps are required, just a web browser. First-time users can join a queue in seconds of loading the web page from the retailer’s website.
Step 1 - Users are directed to a branded URL, such as q.storename.co.nz to find their local store on their phone’s browser (no app required). For retailers with many locations - promoting a single URL on their website and advertising makes all of this easy and brand-specific.
Step 2 - The web page automatically displays the closest stores, displays the number of people in line, and includes estimated wait time. They pick the store that has the best combination of proximity and wait time. Better yet, the consumer can jump in line from home, the office, or in their car-saving them precious time.
Step 3 - The first time the user gets in the queue, they enter their details. After the first use, their information is saved, so future sign-ins are even faster.
Step 4 - Users track their position in line. If there is no queue, they get an immediate message to head to the store entrance.
For impatient customers, the process of seeing their queue position decrease is satisfying. We present fun and engaging messages as the number decreases, making light of the time waiting.
As the consumer gets into the final three positions (3, 2, 1), they are instructed to head to the entrance, where staff may greet them. Workflows can be customised depending on the store’s process.
Easy for staff to use
Implementing new technology should be easy for the staff at each retail location. If it is clunky, slow, or confusing, they’ll find a way to circumvent it altogether.
Safer Lines’s Qboard is incredibly intuitive and simple for non-technical employees to manage customer flow. We have found new retail users need less than 60 seconds to familiarise themselves with the interface and how it works.
Employees can use their own smartphone (with a unique login) or a company phone or tablet to manage the queue. Their device simply needs a reliable Internet-connection to work.
The store employee is always in control of the queue, never the technology. The store employee(s) can determine who enters next, can notify people their name has been called, and they have a short time to come up, and easily track store capacity.
Customers receive messages on their phone if their name was called and they are missing - and they receive a pleasant “Thank you” upon entering the store. As the frontline employee sees customers depart, they can mark “Exit” in the Qboard and store attendance decreases, giving retailers a talley-clicker and queue system in one.
Capacity Tracking for Level 2/3 in NZ
Safer Lines has built-in contract tracing for all customers in the queue. If the retailer wants to use this feature, guests are given an option to check-out when they leave (or the staff member can do so manually). All data is securely stored for reporting to health departments.
This workflow is simple and flexible for all size retailers.
What about those without devices? No device? No problem. Safer Lines has manual entry options for frontline employees to easily add a guest to the queue. If a senior or person with a disability approaches, the employee can immediately grant them access (without any data entry). The store capacity count is increased, and there’s no slow-down to customer entry.
If a mum comes in with her three kids, the store employee can easily add “+3” guests entering without any data entry required - maintaining an accurate store capacity record at all times.
How to make the queue a competitive advantage
Retailers who look at queueing as an opportunity to delight customers with an informative and empowering experience will win-over customers who value ease and convenience.
Safer Lines is ready and able to deploy quickly to hundreds of locations, or just a few, with cost-effective pricing, incredible phone and email support, and ready-to-use virtual training for employees, with no long-term contracts.
Interested in getting started? Visit www.saferlines.com to learn more.
Jinene Clark, General Manager, leads the day-to-day operations and go-to-market strategy for Safer Lines. She is passionate about helping enterprise retailers leverage technology to improve the customer experience. Prior to joining Safer Lines, Jinene spent 10 years as an executive at Telstra Australia, with 5 years in the Public Safety Industry Solutions Team; identifying, developing and delivering world-class Public Safety initiatives. Jinene’s experience assisting large corporations, state and federal governments to address challenges to ‘citizens safety’ and supporting the emergency services with smart SaaS offerings, with many of the solutions at the forefront of IT development.