Having to balance customer experience against your budget is a difficult task. So too is managing customer wait times. When rostering team members, you need to make sure that you have the right amount working to keep your customers happy, but in turn, you need to make sure you don’t roster too many people where you have team members standing around doing nothing.

Having long wait times with customers is good news initially; it means your business is popular. However, customers will not return if they have to wait around for you every time they come to your business. Time management issues are something that needs to be fixed relatively quickly as you need to gain loyal and reliable customers. If customers like your products or services, they will be a bit more forgiving, but if the long waits continue, eventually, you will be driving them straight to your competitors.

If you need to manage customer wait times without hiring more people, here are some ideas that can help you:


Encourage customers to come in during quiet times

All businesses will have slow and busy periods. A way to try and eliminate wait times is to make sure you roster more team members during your busy times and then fewer during the slower ones. Offer your customers incentives for coming in during quiet hours. For example, you could offer types of discounts for customers who come in between 2 and 4, depending on your slow periods.

Don’t be opposed if you are a retail establishment to encourage customers to schedule appointments. Rather than just walking in, this can help you manage and maintain customer flow and rostering.


Have a separate stand for complicated transactions

Complicated transactions take more time, and they force your customers to wait longer for service. Have a particular station where returns are accepted; loyalty program sign-ups are processed; online purchases are picked up, for example. These transactions are more complex; however, they happen less frequently, so moving them to their own station doesn’t add significant work to your team members but will decrease customer wait times overall.


Streamline the queue

See if there are ways to streamline your queue, so customers aren’t waiting a long time to be helped by one person. For example, you could have team members greeting customers, another asking if they need any help, and someone else ringing up the purchase. Or you could have mobile point of sale software that allows your team members to help customers anywhere they are—inside the store or even outside. Point of sale (POS) software enables staff to accept payments, search information, close transactions, print receipts, and even find saving your customers from long waits in line.

Investing in technology may be an excellent idea for your business, as your customers can check in with you online before coming into your business. Their overall wait time may be the same, but they’ll be spending part of this time at home so that it won’t feel as long.


Under-promise and over-deliver

There will come a time where your business will be so busy that customers will be stuck waiting for service. In those cases, under promise and overdeliver. If you know something will take 3 hours, tell the customer it will take 4 hours. Customers are happier to receive their goods or services earlier rather than later.

This strategy will buy you time if unexpected delays occur. The worst part of the situation is that you have to tell customers their wait will be longer repeatedly. This frustrates them and makes them less likely to come back.


Final Thoughts on reducing Wait Times

Having wait times is inevitable, but it does not mean you need to hire more team members. There are solutions available that can enhance the customer experience without you hiring more people.

If you have any questions, feel free to Join the conversation…

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