Irrespective of the business you are into, “Customer is the King,” is the thumb rule that guides all businesses. Thus, it is loud and clear that how you manage your customers play a key role in the success of your business. Many times, despite your product/service being good, you fail to achieve customer satisfaction or customer retention. This is purely because of poor customer experience.
If you are a business with a physical presence like a hotel, book store, supermarket and more, your customer experience greatly depends on how you manage the customer flow.
So what is customer flow management?
Customer flow management can be defined as how you manage the customer when they queue up.
Customer queue management has always played a crucial role in customer satisfaction, but post the pandemic the importance has increased. However, before we look at how to improve customer flow, here is a look at the impacts when not done:
- Drops staff productivity
- Leads to poor customer retention
- Sometimes loss of customer
Considering all three impact your brand image and profitability, it is clear that customer flow management is indispensable. So, here is a look at five smart ways to achieve the same:
1. Make them feel safe and secured
The primary aspect that customers are looking for in this pandemic situation is safety. Therefore, you need to make your customers confident by making efforts to make them feel safe at your place. How do you do that? Make them understand that you are being extremely careful about the staff’s health, particular about who walks in, ensuring complete hygiene at the property. Placing sanitisers in the queuing space and also duly marking it for safe distance is mandatory.
2. Reduce the waiting time
During this pandemic, most of the businesses have cut down on manpower resulting in a shortage. This reduction in manpower impacts the delivery resulting in an increase in the customer waiting time. Therefore, you need to find ways to distract/engage customers when they are queuing so that they feel they have been waiting for a long time. One of the interesting ways to engage customers in the queue is to create some distraction. For example, if you are a supermarket then placing stands with chocolate or tiny needs like batteries etc is a good way of distracting the queuing customers.
Sometimes honesty pays. In other words, one of the best tricks of customer flow management is to communicate to your customers the ideal wait period. For example, you are a restaurant, informing your customer of the waiting time enables your customer to decide whether to wait or leave. By doing so, you win an extra point. The customer feels nice that you have acted responsibly and kept it honest. Secondly, most of the times, this transparency actually enables the customer to embrace the wait without any qualms.
4. Organized queuing:
It’s definitely a good sign that you have customers lining for you, but instead of getting carried, following a queuing structure can help you win your customers. So, the easiest way is to have a customer queue management system in place. And following the order is the other aspect. It is often observed that businesses tend to give preference to their regular customers in a queue while following the order. This may win you a rookie with an existing customer, but you run a great risk of losing a new customer who would have probably become your long term customer. Therefore, you must follow a queue system that is based on the principle, “First come first serve.” Following this simple rule, can save you from various unexpected queue issues.
5. Be receptive
Last but most effective trick for customer flow management is to engage with your customers and seek feedback. While your customers are waiting in the queue you can make the best of this by seeking feedback from your customers about your business and what your customers feel about your business etc. You can also use this queuing time to engage with your customers to know them better. This will enable you to serve them better in the future. From the customer’s perspective, they feel nice that you are making that effort to know them. Also, these engagement activities make customers feel that queuing was not that bad enough.
The above are some of the broad tricks that will help you effectively manage customers. However, before you decide to design and embrace a customer queue management system, you first need to understand your queue pattern.
- What is your average footfall? In other words, keep a check in your average footfall and out of which derive the average waiting customers.
- What is the average waiting time? Once you have arrived at the average number of customers waiting, try and understand the average waiting period. This will help you understand how to reduce and engage your customers during the waiting period.
- Once you have your statistics of numbers and duration, it’s time to come up with ideas that would first focus on reducing the waiting time. Depending upon the kind of your business, you need to say, how you can actually reduce the waiting time by making some changes in the logistics and delivery.
- If the waiting time cannot be addressed with structural or operational changes, then it’s time to find ways of addressing it with customer engagement activities. Depending upon your business type, you need to come with customer engagement activities that look part of your branding process and not as a specified effort to engage customers during the wait.
Based on the above-mentioned points you can definitely define and implement an effective customer queue management system. However, if you lack time, to go through this process, you can engage agencies or pick software that makes this process easy, hassle-free and less time-consuming. With a simple internet search and a credibility check, you can get these agencies. These agencies would do a thorough study of your customer waiting pattern and come up with solid queue management which you just need to implement.