Reduce Perceived Wait Time With Digital Signage For Queue Management

Jun 14, 2021 | Internal Communications

Sophie Olver

Sophie Olver

Waiting in a queue for checkout or an appointment is a tedious experience everyone can relate to. Yet, as the journalist George Mikes phrased, “an Englishman, even if he is alone, forms an orderly queue of one”. It is in our nature, but how can your business reduce this perceived wait time to increase customer satisfaction. Digital signage for queue management provides a solution to this.

In David Maister’s The Psychology of Waiting Lines, he points out that the actual time we are waiting may have little to do with how long the wait feels. Instead, unoccupied time feels longer than occupied time.

This blog explores 5 ways digital signage can be used and optimised to reduce perceived wait time. From displaying estimated wait times to video content, digital signage for queue management directs and distracts customers for improved experience and operations.  

Digital Signage Queue Management Techniques

While businesses do all they can to manage queues and speed up service, many fail to think about improvements for the waiting experience itself. Digital signage for queue management provides a critical solution for improving this experience and, ultimately, reducing perceived wait time at the same time. In fact, digital signage can reduce perceived wait time at checkouts by as much as 35 per cent.

1.    Display Estimated Wait Time

In Maister’s The Psychology of Waiting Lines, he emphasises that “uncertain waits are longer than known, finite waits”. This point accentuates the benefits of keeping customers aware of how long their wait will be. For example, in a dentist waiting room, if a patient knows their appointment will be in 30 minutes, they will no longer be constantly on edge, reducing their anxiety and the perceived wait time.

Update digital signage queue management content immediately with digital signage software, so customers are alerted of waiting changes straight away. Alternatively, by integrating RSS feeds, live information on wait times can be displayed, such as train or plane timetables. This integration can also update customers if there are delays to their wait or journey. Whilst delays are frustrating, knowing about them makes the wait easier to accept.

This displayed information on waiting area digital signage allows customers to expect their wait and relax. This feeling replaces the constant state of unknowingness that causes dissatisfaction to increase.

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2.    Alert Customers With Digital Signage For Queue Management

Manage queues by alerting customers and calling them forward when it is their turn. This queue management technique creates the perception that both the company and the people in the queue ahead are not wasting time. This call forward can also include an exact location to avoid delays, for example, a call to checkout 11 in a retail store or room 14 at the medical centre.

This audio or visual call linked to waiting area digital signage will trigger people to listen/watch out for their turn. This feature reassures customers that the queue is in motion and that their turn will come, making the wait more justifiable.

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3.    Provide Directions With Digital Wayfinding

In large stores and buildings, if people know where to checkout or check-in, or where the help desk is, for example, the experience is a lot smoother. If customers are consistently getting lost, satisfaction with your business will decrease.

With digital wayfinding on electronic screens around your store or building, you can point people in the right direction to the correct queuing area for heightened efficiency. Moreover, unlike static posters, on-screen content can be immediately updated to display different directions if a checkout area or pathway is closed or busy. This digital signage for queue management helps both your business and its customers, ensuring smooth operations.

Ultimately, if people know where they are going, they will not have a pre-determined negative queuing experience. Alongside this, the perceived waiting time will decrease.

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Digital Signage Queue Management Distraction Techniques

1.   Video Content

When analysing the psychology of waiting lines, Maister pointed to philosopher William James’ assertion, “boredom results from being attentive to the passage of time itself”. As a result, providing distractions that will turn heads is crucial. This point is where the multimedia capabilities of digital signage for queue management shine.

Video content has many possibilities. Whether a retail store queue or a hospital waiting area, on your digital signage screens or video wall, you can display video marketing messages, ‘how to’ and informative reels, live TV, a YouTube stream, or customer testimonials, amongst other content. Schedule this content to play at particular times or put it on a playlist to rotate what customers see.

By entertaining customers, you are occupying their time and, hence, minimising their attentiveness to time. Considering, 85% of people would like to see more video from brands in 2021, give the people what they want while distracting customers from their wait simultaneously.

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2.    Point of Sale Advertisements

At a restaurant, staff often hand menus to customers waiting for a table to distract them, keep them interested, and reduce the perceived wait time. Similarly, highlighting point of sale advertisements on digital signage in queuing areas is a great way to capture and secure customer attention.

Unlike static posters that fade into the background, digital signage turns heads with its bright and eye-catching content. These digital signage queue management advertisements will give customers something to read, look at, or watch while they wait. In turn, their attention will be diverted and the perceived wait time reduced.

Simultaneously, this content can boost sales; research has found that one in five customers make impulse purchases after seeing digital signage advertising. As a result, under the pressure of a dwindling queue, digital signage content will motivate customers to make last-minute purchases.

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3.    Social Media

Social media is popular; 4.14 billion people worldwide use it. This fact emphasises the attractiveness of social platforms and how displaying social media content around your queuing or waiting areas can distract customers from their wait.  

Social media channels, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube can provide various content from product images and videos to customer testimonials. Project live feeds of accounts, lists, or hashtag searches on-screen to put this content in front of the customer. This transparency also increases brand trust, improving customer experience and sales.

By displaying social media content on waiting area digital signage, you distract customers with intriguing posts and extend the reach of your social marketing campaigns.

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Digital Kiosks

Digital signage is a valuable tool for improving customer experience and reducing wait times. Reduce the wait further with interactive digital signage hardware. The digital kiosk allows customers to take control of their experience in various ways. People can use it to check in to places, checkout items, search FAQs, and acquire information.

The features of a digital kiosk reduce wait time in varying ways. As an informational hub, a digital kiosk allows customers to skip queues to see staff for a simple answer. As a check-in method or checkout, they improve the efficiency of the customer experience; kiosks reduce human interaction and focus on the task at hand.

These kiosks can reduce real wait time by speeding up the process, splitting the queue between digital and manual experiences. Also, as society becomes increasingly technologically savvy, perceived wait time reduces as people imagine a digital experience to be quicker than a manual one.

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If you have any questions related to reducing perceived wait time with digital signage, speak to an expert today. Call our friendly team on 02380 981110 or Email for a no-obligation consultation. Alternatively, click the button below.

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