Do you miss the days of sitting in a busy, bustling waiting room, lobby, or queue?
Regardless of our attitudes towards queuing, social distancing has had a massive impact on our lives. Around the world, measures are being put in place to limit the number of people gathering within an enclosed space.
In short, from a world where you might have 50 people in a waiting room, times have changed, and capacity has reduced enormously due to social distancing laws.
Capacity Management: Adjusting to a New Normal with Reduced Seating or Capacity
How do you utilize the full potential of a waiting room's capacity when you can no longer seat people close together? The CDC is recommending:
- Placing staff at the entrances of lobbies for screening customers or patients
- Allowing customers or patients to wait outside in their car if they are medically able
- Preparing waiting areas by limiting the number of chairs and spacing the chairs apart.
However, this approach still puts staff at risk and can cause frustration for customers or patients who find themselves queuing in places that aren't designed for waiting—like outside on the street, in the rain.
It doesn't have to be like this.
Capacity Management Lessons from the Amusement Attractions Industry
Will we ever be able to return to the fairground, sit on a roller coaster or swirl around in the teacups again?
The answer, surprisingly, is yes!
As Greg Banecker, from Gateway Ticketing Systems, says, "No matter what, when we reopen, we're not coming back to the world we once knew. So now we're looking to countries that have reopened (or stayed open) to find the contingency plans that are sticking."
While attractions in Asia have reopened and are checking people's temperatures, instituting capacity limits, and reducing dwell time, the biggest lesson we can learn from the attractions industry is their capacity management strategies.
These 'capacity managed attractions' use timed tickets—a system not unlike virtual queuing or virtual queue management. Customers join a virtual queue, regardless of location, then, shortly before a ride (or an agent) is available, they are sent an alert to come to a staging area, or 'On-Deck.'
Bringing Customers 'On-Deck' Streamlines Capacity Management...
Social distancing guidelines have limited the ability to continue to allow customers to check-in for appointments and services by using a kiosk or interfacing with the reception desk. And in most cases, access to the lobbies and waiting areas is restricted to employees and a limited number of screened customers or patients.
So, how can we optimize for capacity management challenges?
Bringing small numbers of people On-Deck or into a pre-waiting area allows your team to manage the flow of customers or patients more effectively.
Instead of forcing people to queue outside when your lobby hits capacity or risking now shows, virtual queuing technologies notify customers when they're close to being served. Then depending on your business process or average wait time, you can invite customers or patients into your lobby or waiting room, effectively bringing them On-Deck.
For example, if your average service time is 15 minutes and under new social distancing guidelines, you can only accommodate ten people in your lobby, then you could use a simple entry-exit system. Every time a person leaves the waiting room, invite your next guest.
But don't worry too much about calculating your notification times. Systems like our Q-Anywhere suite will help you determine the optimal flow and time to bring customers On-Deck based on your real-time data.
No One Has to Queue Outside your Waiting Room Anymore...
If you look at the details of how technology like On-Deck virtual capacity management works, you'll realize it's pretty simple and pretty nifty stuff.
- Bi-directional SMS messaging allows customers to wait at home, in a coffee shop or their cars until they receive an SMS or text-based invitation to enter your lobby.
- Wait Anywhere enables you to set the number of customers you want to allow in your waiting area at any one time. This is a configurable value that can be set based on your lobby capacity.
- Once the customer has entered the lobby, you can follow your standard business processes and route them to a service, an agent, a staff member, or a consultant.
Resetting Customer Expectations to Improve the Customer Experience
Times have changed. Companies involved in serving customers across any industry: retail, healthcare, public service, and other face-to-face services have no choice but to adjust the way they do business, and speed is of the essence.
Capacity management guidelines are presenting organizations with a unique set of challenges and keeping the doors open means embracing new ways of working while avoiding customer flow bottlenecks.
ACF's On-Deck and Virtual Waiting Room technologies can improve the customer experience by removing the bottlenecks associated with capacity management constraints.
It takes away some of their anxiety, ensures social distancing is enforced, and helps control customer flow. And this, in turn, reduces the pressure on customer-facing staff members at the same time.
In short, being able to Wait Anywhere and be alerted with On-Deck technology, Check-in Anywhere, or get an Assistant Anywhere isn't just a fad. Social distancing is here to stay.
If you want to keep your customers, you have to help them use your services in a safe, convenient, and socially responsible way. Getting them On-Deck with virtual queuing might just be the answer.
Need help? We’re here for you
If we can provide help and assistance on anything related to queue management and appointment scheduling we’re happy to do so. Get in touch. And stay safe.