How to Design The Best Queue Ever

Being aware of the cost of waiting, I do not want to keep you waiting for my next blog post!
In the previous post, we discussed real cost of waiting time for firms and customers. It is possible to maintain optimal waiting time, while satisfying resources’ working and break times along with firms’ internal constraints. Hence, designing “magical” queues is not that hard!

1.Analyze data
A business is mostly predictable. If it is busy on the last Friday of March, it will likely be busy on the last Friday of April too. Or if the number of customer in a retail store decreases on Monday, 2:00 PM, it will probably decreases on each Monday, 2:00 PM. Using historical data is an efficient way to make assumptions about the future and make plans accordingly.

2.Know your staff –> Right calculation of staff requirement
To calculate staff requirement, it is critical to know your staff’s competencies. If your staff is only trained to do one task, it might be a good idea to make them versatile. It will both increase employee satisfaction by letting them to learn more skills and allow reducing queue length during peak times since there will be more employees with the ability to complete the tasks.

3.Manipulate perceived waiting time
While waiting in a queue, perceived waiting is more important than the actual waiting time for the customers. So, making waiting time more pleasant could result in higher customer satisfaction. Consider the well-known elevator fact. When people had to use elevators with the expansion of tall buildings, they were complaining about how slow the elevators were.

All companies but one tried to solve this problem by designing faster elevators. This particular company focused on understanding why people think that elevators are slow. To this end, they conducted a survey and found out that people think that elevators are slower than they actually are. It was a problem of perceived time. The engineers searched for giving people something to do while in elevator and they came up with the idea of mirrors! With this innovative idea, complaints ceased and more interestingly, on a follow-up survey, people reported that the new elevators are faster than the old ones, even though the speed of elevators did not change!

4.Prioritize 
Adding a prioritization method to your queue is a knife-edge decision. Studies show that unfair waits make people more anxious and less satisfied with the service [1].

On the other hand, First-In-First-Out (FIFO) queue models are not always acceptable, for instance in an emergency situation or in case of premium users who pay for special service. Prioritizing should certainly allow an optimal waiting time both for firms and customers, but it must be applied correctly.

5.Be prepared for exceptional times ​
Famous boxer Mike Tyson once said “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Adopting his perception, firms should be ready for a punch before they get hit. Analyzing previous and future campaigns, awareness of holiday and special day effects are crucial for queue management.

Consider the example of Disney queues that are known as “magical” in the queuing community. At Walt Disney World, managers are aware that visitors waiting in line do not generate any revenue. So first, they analyze their previous data to better understand their visitor pattern. And then, they train their human capital in a way that they can multitask. Along with their primary roles, employees have also comprehensive information about the attractions and are able to offer help to park guests.

Next, they design the attractions’ queues such that waiting in line is like a preparation for the attraction and becomes a desirable experience itself. And finally, with the use of FASTPASS which is a virtual queuing system created by Walt Disney Company, visitors can reserve their place in queues without physically being there. Thanks to this system, the company prioritize the visitors, make its assumptions and its plans more realistically and minimize the perception of waiting times [2]. Considering all of these, a win-win situation is created both for company and visitors.

I wish you experience always “magical” queues and make your customers experience one!

Büşra GENCER

Product Manager