What is the New Normal?
If you have been protected from the onslaught of the news cycle, or living off the grid, you are blissfully unaware of what the New Normal refers to. For the rest of us, the alliteration has become household lingo.
The New Normal describes the period after the Covid19 pandemic broke out. With SOPs, masks, occupancy mandates and social distancing becoming the norm, life as we knew it was permanently altered. Our new reality includes more precautions and adaptations than the previous one.
One of the most significant changes has been to the way we obtain and purchase goods and services. No longer can we simply walk into retail stores, restaurants, banks, etc., and be served. Occupancy limits and social distancing guidelines have made it imperative to book appointments and queue prior to arrival on-premises.
Come hail, come storm, the queue stands
Prior to Covid19, queues were a source of customer displeasure. 73% customers reported to have abandoned their shopping carts and items if the wait exceeded 5 minutes. Stores that had winding queues saw a decline in revenue, a diminishing loyal customer base and low Net Promoter scores. All in all, the queue was unwanted.
Post Covid19, the queues still stand. In fact, it has become a modern necessity, a queue 2.0 if you will. Some are due to panic buying or shortages, but the rest serve as safety measures. To stop the spread of the virus, experts recommend 6 feet of distance between two masked individuals. These guidelines necessitate occupancy limits on-premises, and for this some queuing must be tolerated.
A successful queuing experience is one where the customer obtains what they came for, and has a safe and satisfactory journey and leaves a positive feedback review.
Some queues are appreciated, and the customers who form a part of it are willing and able to wait to be served. The reason for this is the nature of the queue itself, the ideal characteristics of which follow:
- A fair and logical queue with 6 feet distance between customers
- Transparency of queuing information – how much longer is the wait, how many more people till your turn, which counter to approach, etc.
- Virtual queuing with real-time updates – customers can wait remotely and arrive on-premises when their turn is called
- The value of the goods and services being purchased outweighs the opportunity cost of the time spent waiting in the queue
Queues like this can be found where the managerial staff prioritizes the customer journey flow. This can include well-managed and monitored hospitals, schools, restaurants, retail stores, government offices, etc.
Other queues are the ones being complained about. The kind of queues that leave customers angry, frustrated, exhausted and annoyed. The kind of queues that make businesses lose customers and revenue. The characteristics of these undesirable queues are as follows:
- Disorganized queue with people jumping the line, no enforced social distancing
- Lack of queuing information
- No regular queuing updates so customers have to wait on-site else they miss their turn
- The opportunity cost of the time spent waiting in the queue outweighs the value of the goods and services being purchased
Queues like this can be found where the visitor journey is unmapped, the touchpoints not optimized and the staff uninterested in care standards. This can include ill-managed government offices, DMVs, hospitals, etc.
The new and improved queue is an unmissable opportunity for your business. It is an added customer touch point waiting to be optimized effectively and efficiently for maximum impact. The queue gives you the rare chance to have your customers in one place, largely unoccupied with other tasks. Following are some kinds of opportunities New Normal queues afford your business:
The New Normal has catalyzed the need for digitization and the adoption of improved visitor management technology. Customers look to their chosen businesses to adopt and adapt to these technological advancements – and are likely to make decisions about where to take their business depending on this!
While increasing numbers of businesses deploy queue management software to aid in managing, collecting and analyzing footfall data for streamlined visitor flows, it is imperative that your business stays with and ahead of the curve. Your customers are watching to see just how much you value their business, and accordingly, they will trust you with their loyalty.
Making the queuing experience better for visitors allows you opportunities for growth as satisfied customers will likely spread word of the excellent standard of your services, helping grow your customer base.
Use your queue to further market and advertise your offerings! Set up digital signage, posters, flyers, interactive prototypes, etc. to promote new products and services, discounts, sales, and up- and cross-sell.
This will have the added benefit of engaging your customer’s attention while they wait, thereby reducing perceived wait times and improving their experience.
Improved service opportunities
With queues back in action, there are a myriad of ways to ease and streamline the consumer journey for your valued clients.
Your business can deploy appointment scheduling services to allow clients the opportunity to book before arrival. They get to choose according to their schedules, and can pre plan better. And your staff will be able to predict and plan for the footfall on that day more effectively.
Your business can also facilitate virtual queuing via SMS or a smartphone application. This means clients can check-in, secure a virtual place in the physical queue, and received real-time updates – all while waiting remotely or running errands. Solutions like this ensure social distancing and customer convenience.
The image and rapport of the winding queue is changing. At first it was a disgruntled acceptance. But now, it is a growing fascination with the sheer possibilities afforded by a successfully managed client queue.
The New Normal has pushed queuing outside the premises of the store or office. This has freed up floor space on-premises for increased marketing opportunities. It also allows for more optimized premise management.
The modern business has the following questions to ask of itself, essential for success in the New Normal.
- Are my customers happy with the way my queues are managed?
- Is my management technologically sound and digitally streamlined?
- Am I making the most of the opportunities offered by the changes of the New Normal