If the past two years have taught retailers anything, perhaps it’s that workforce trends can be just as unpredictable as consumer trends. The industry has always faced challenges hiring and retaining talent, but the current labor shortage is almost unprecedented.
Labor challenges coupled with generally more fickle and impatient customers are forcing brick-and-mortar retailers to rethink their strategies. Keeping employees happy has become almost as important as keeping customers happy – and how people feel at work matters just as much as the wages you pay and the value you provide.
The virtual queue offers a way to improve the experience of workers and consumers. Changing the way customers expect service may seem like a minor adjustment, but the potential to increase efficiency, staff morale and, perhaps most importantly, sales is significant. In 2022, this potential cannot be overlooked.
A variety of use cases
The Virtual Queue is based on a simple idea: instead of standing in a physical queue, customers check in to a queue on their smartphone and then get notified when their turn is coming. Customers are free to do whatever they want, including shopping in other parts of the store, while they “wait”.
The wait itself becomes productive as customers can ask questions and provide additional information to staff so that when they reach the front of the virtual queue, employees are better prepared to provide service. exceptional. Customers can also receive updates on estimated wait times and can even receive virtual offers, such as digital coupons or information on current sales.
Virtual queuing may not make sense for large retailers’ checkout lines, but larger stores can use the technology for other services and departments, such as customer service, pharmacy, electronic counter, automobile, etc.
Small retailers can use the virtual queue for payment and service. Shops with limited staff might not be able to serve customers in a timely manner, but with a virtual queue, those customers know they’re not being ignored.
Benefits of a Virtual Queue
At first glance, the virtual queue appears to be a customer-centric technology. While consumers value and appreciate the freedom a virtual queue provides, its benefits extend much further — to employees and retail. Some overall benefits include:
- Improved efficiency: A virtual queue can often reduce a customer’s waiting time by a few minutes. Employees aren’t distracted by managing a physical queue (and are less likely to be barked at by surly customers), and they’re willing to prioritize customer needs because they already know, via interactions numbers of the queue, what are these needs.
- A better customer journey: Even though no time is saved, customers freed from a physical queue or waiting area feel less stressed and more empowered. It makes them want to treat employees better, who then want to treat customers better – and a better experience is appreciated by all.
- More sales: Freeing customers from queues encourages them to spend more time shopping. If they are more satisfied, they may want to buy more and become repeat customers. And offers sent to their phones while they wait encourage those additional purchases and give them value just for waiting in a virtual queue.
Virtual queues also allow retailers to do more with less – in this case, fewer employees in a tight labor market. In an age where talent is valuable, this is critical to keeping your employees happy and sustaining your bottom line.
Steve Covate is Vice President of Sales at Qtrac by Lavi Industries, a cloud-based virtual queuing and scheduling platform.