QUEUE MANAGEMENT FOR CUSTOMER SERVICE & PROFITABILITY
By the time you are 65 years old, you will have spent 6 months of your life waiting in line. That is a long time to be wasting time standing around looking at the back of a stranger’s head. Not only are lines boring, they can also be aggravating and stressful.
The basic idea is that when you’re unoccupied, the wait in a line feels much longer. In fact, research suggests that people overestimate how long they’ve waited in a line by 36 percent. Those estimates are often based on expectation. The New York Times explains:
Our expectations further affect how we feel about lines. Uncertainty magnifies the stress of waiting, while feedback in the form of expected wait times and explanations for delays improves the tenor of the experience.
Customer Service – Problem #1
For your customers, time is valuable and they simply don’t like long lines. However, your patrons/players need to eat, drink, and be entertained so sometimes waiting in a long line is necessary. Over the years, operators have tried to improve the queuing experience by adding corrals, ropes, digital signage, and other items that really seem to serve the operator, but not the patrons. In other cases, operators have implemented paging systems with limited success, and more recently SMS texting systems with slightly more success, but some venues just require people to stand in an actual queue as the operation requires them to be physically present.
In casino buffets across America, lines can get so long that they wrap around a building and the immediate perception may be that the line is visually too long for the patron so they may leave without ever knowing the actual wait time.
In many casino coffee shops, there may be 20 people in line at 8am, but in reality the wait may only be 12 minutes. This creates a potential problem for the operator in lost business due to perception triumphing over reality.
Perception – The awareness of the elements of environment through physical sensation.
Lost Profits – Problem #2
You don’t have to be a mathematician to realize that if you have potential customers doing a 180 right before they enter your line, you may be losing all of the potential revenue to a competitor or to indecision. If you’re lucky, they might be using that money at a slot machine or on a table, but popular opinion is that when people are ready to eat and drink, that is what they intend to do. The old saying in the casino industry is, “Well, we’d rather have them out on the casino floor anyway.” If you are in the hospitality business, you know that a majority of casino players love the amenities they get in food & beverage, so the experience should be excellent or they will share part of their wallet with another casino. The bottom line is that you shouldn’t confuse the need to gamble with the need for sustenance. If you do, eventually all of your players will die from hunger, well, at least your “hardcore-grind players.” Instead, think of it like this: “Full and happy players can play longer and may have a better experience.”
83% of casino operators interviewed mentioned that players’ club and cage lines were a problem for them as well.
What’s the solution?
If you have substantial line waits at your property, you should consider implementing some solutions below to make the experience better for the patron.
Communicate the Wait
There are now great people-counting systems that share wait times with the guests in almost any type of line. Using advanced technology, the operator can deploy sensors to detect the number of people in line and using digital signage they can share the wait information with the guest. These can be deployed at buffets, coffee shops, nightclubs, Cage & Credit & Players Club.
Entertainment & Games
Create a game that can be played while waiting in the queue. You can even make a social game that’s played among the people in line. They will surely love it. You will just need a strong “call to action” or an employee there in-person engaging with the patrons. Mobile games are best!
Secure Their Next Trip
If you have dozens or even hundreds of patrons in line at one of your venues, you have a captive audience. Capitalize on this by presenting them with an extra special offer redeemable on their next trip. Have patrons sign up for entries into future tournaments or other functions (i.e. shows, concerts, etc.) that are in high demand.
Sign Up New Players Via Mobile Enrollment
There are great technologies available that allow players club agents to use iPods and smart phones to enroll new casino players on the fly. Give them a cool coupon for signing up.
Think Outside the Box
If you communicate the times with patrons so they can make a decision to use their time the way they want to, you will have happy customers who are likely to return. Secondly, if you create a fun, rewarding and engaging experience for those who decide to wait in your lines, you may create a new favorite pastime called “Queue Camping.” Although this new queue experience may create its own set of issues, you are guaranteed to find success at the end of the road.
Best of Luck to you! Please reach out if you have any questions about these solutions.
Christopher Swanger is a technology veteran in the gaming industry and has worked both as a vendor and an operator. He is a Go-To-Market expert who helps companies establish relevance and value within the gaming and hospitality sector. As a proponent for innovation, Chris writes for Gaming & Leisure® Magazine to help tell the stories that his technology partners and colleagues deem important to the betterment of the gaming industry. More about Chris at http://www.ChristopherSwanger.com.