The Importance of Tracking Line Abandonment
A long wait in a crowded physical queue can undo the best customer experience. Even a short line that takes forever can torpedo your reputation with a customer.
That said, you can consider a customer who decides to endure a long line a victory — you still made the sale and now just need to repair the relationship. A customer who abandons the line, however, represents a bigger failure.
To understand line abandonment, retailers must identify what’s causing long lines and eroding customer satisfaction. Good data becomes essential to establishing the root of the problem — and solving it.
An Incomplete Picture
Eyeballing a long line might be good for instant operational decisions, but it’s not always accurate. Two customers with elaborate needs might take longer to serve than 10 who each require less than a minute of the associate’s time. Furthermore, eyeballing a line doesn’t generate effective data.
Video sensors would seem to give retailers a better way to flag and measure long lines in real time. However, this technology also has shortcomings. For example, the camera might see a mom with three kids as four people, but they likely only need one service. Again, the data produced might not be accurate, both in real time and for long-term strategy.
A Digital Approach
Customers in a retail line — particularly service counters and individual department checkouts — bring their own unique needs to the store that day. A shopper who is returning an item may have more patience to wait than someone who has a question and might be antsier than someone buying a nonessential item. Identifying those needs is key to getting ahead of line abandonment, and virtual queuing systems can help.
With a virtual queue, customers check into the line by scanning a QR code, sending a text, or entering their information at a computer kiosk. Instead of waiting in a physical queue, they're then free to move about the store.
The system sends text messages with notifications on their place in line, estimated wait times, and when to come back to the counter for service. It can also send targeted communications to anyone who abandons the line, apologizing for the wait time and inviting them to come back.
Virtual queues help prevent line abandonment by giving customers control over how they wait. All those minutes don’t seem as long if a shopper isn’t feeling trapped in a line or waiting area. Furthermore, time estimates allow shoppers to decide whether they want to wait.
Beyond the customer experience, virtual queues give retailers immediate and accurate data on what people need based on the information shoppers input when entering the system. Managers can shuffle employees in real time to help with a crowded queue and direct specialists to offer tailored service to customers.
Even with the benefits of virtual queuing, line abandonment happens from time to time — and it’s unfortunate. However, the technology tracks data that gives retailers insights into why shoppers are ditching the queue.
For example, the metrics can reveal:
- which times of day are busier and/or more prone to line abandonment;
- how many minutes, on average, customers who leave wait before giving up on the queue;
- which services are more vulnerable — or more resistant — to line abandonment; and
- which employees take longer with customers and which are more efficient.
From this data, you can make operational decisions to boost efficiency and results. If, for example, certain employees are struggling at the service counter, you could provide them with more training or move them to another role that better suits their skills.
Retailers can also use queuing technology to send customer satisfaction surveys that capture real-time feedback. This gives businesses better insight into the customer experience and allows them to directly respond to anyone who provides a low score.
Ultimately, less line abandonment means customers are happier. By providing them with an improved wait via virtual queuing, you learn more about what matters — which allows you to deliver an even better experience.
Steve Covate is vice president of sales at Qtrac, a cloud-based virtual queuing and appointment scheduling platform.
Related story: How to Increase Retail Sales in 2022 With Virtual Queuing
Vice President of Sales Steve Covate leads Qtrac’s national sales team of software executives, technical sales engineers, and inside sales support in selling, configuring, servicing, and maintaining virtual queuing solutions to leading organizations across the globe. Experienced in developing strategic sales plans that promote growth and customer retention, Steve has successfully led sales efforts in a variety of industries including retail, airline, construction, transportation, government, hospitality, banking, education, stadium and arena, healthcare, and entertainment.