The new normal in queue management

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During these times of pandemic, where most parts of the world are somewhere in between the complete lock-down and the re-opening, we took a momento to take a look at the future and to ask ourselves: what will be the “new normal” of customer service once this crisis has passed?

Historically, service queues consisted of people waiting in line at a physical location or waiting on the phone, hoping to interact with a human eventually. Over time, digital channels like email and chat were added, at first still designed for human response and later – incorporating automated answers, some devised more intelligently and some less.

Transitioning as many customer requests to self-service, bots, and other unmanned tools was already a strong trend before COVID-19, tools that were primarily motivated by companies that were looking to cut costs and to untie the ancient link between reducing waiting times in queues and having to spend more money on service representatives and resources.

The COVID-19 added two additional elements to the mix:

  • The need to reduce congestion in public spaces, such as the branches were customer service is provided.
  • More people are getting used to use video conferencing platforms such as Zoom and similar.

So, how does the above affect queueing? Does it mean no more queues? It is certainly not the case. We see a number of possible effects taking place that will probably become the “new normal” in service queue management:

  1. Businesses will offer customers a greater range of communication options. However, because different customers will have different preferences and adopt new channels at different rates, and as some customers will choose a channel at random, queueing will be truly omnichannel. Any system that cannot handle multiple channels, including the seamless transfer of customers between them, will not be able to support the upcoming business models.
  2. The need for efficiency, combined with the need to support remote service models, means having separate agents handle walk-in, calls, and other channels, will not make sense economically. Every agent, whether working in a branch, at a back-office location, or from home, will be responding to all types of communications (of course, with the exception that only branch staff will handle walk-ins). This has implications both from the IT / queue technology perspective, and from an HR perspective.
  3. Basic queue management systems, would likely become less popular, due to their limited functionality. However, smarter customer-flow management systems are actually likely to be in even greater demand. Any physical location that will not be able to count arriving customers, offer remote waiting, and control how long people spend time in the facility, will find servicing customers very difficult, perhaps even prohibited.
  4. Despite automation – and to a great extent, because of it – personalization will become a key element in customer service. As more customers will have to rely on remote communications, businesses will have to find ways to make these customers feel they are still visible to the brand and served according to their individual needs.

Queue management software will have to provide more ways to check-in to a queue; enable personalized wait-time messages; tell which customers are more, or less, happy to chat with bots, versus waiting for a human; and so on.

  1. Schedulingwill become inseparable from queue management.

For users and clients, all the above means they will be able to enjoy a greater variety of options to contact and communicate with service providers – and be given greater control over the type of attention they would like to get (scale between impersonal efficiency and connecting with a human), which will most likely be often digitally rather than face to face.

Companies can make the mistake of generating confussion and service fragmentation if the business does not implement information systems that are up to the task.

Is your queue management system ready for these new challenges?

Contact us to learn more about how our omnichnanel queueing solution can help your organization prepare for the future of customer service.

y que ese “contact us” sea un link a la sección de “Contáctanos” (formulario de contacto).

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