A service environment such as a customer service centre, branch, retail store, restaurant, library, surgery or contact centre often has to support many different types of enquiry and service timings as well as peaks and troughs of customer demand. Queues and resulting customer dissatisfaction that develop in these environments are often symptoms of a problem within the service delivery process, its flexibility and how it is supported rather than simply a problem with the physical service environment alone. It follows therefore that when designing a new customer focused environment careful consideration must be given from the outset as to how customer flow is to be managed as part of the service delivery process, how demand and service delivery timings will vary, and how staff can make changes to respond to this variation to maintain a satisfactory experience for their customers.
Likewise in existing service environments lots of opportunities to improve queuing and customer satisfaction can be found by understanding and better managing the flow of customers. However when faced with queuing problems many organisations rush to invest in technology and equipment to manage the queue alone, usually with a combination of tickets, kiosks, display technology and barriers. Unfortunately this approach will often miss many opportunities to improve customer experience; in some cases it will result in no improvement to queuing or even the problem being made worse. [Read more…]