The take-a-number system is outdated technology.
Unfortunately, too many businesses are still restricted by this old-school ticket printing machine. The take-a-number process was made infamous by confusing lines at McDonald’s and impersonal interactions with large businesses.
If you’re using a take-a-number system, you run the risk of worsening your customers’ experience, creating a stressful work environment for your employees, and wasting precious resources.
Luckily, there’s a better solution available. With queue management software, businesses minimize long queues and enjoy many performance enhancements that are integrated within one innovative system.
We’ll explain the 6 problems caused by the outdated take-a-number system and show you how an intuitive queue management system solves those problems.
Firstly, What Is A Take-A-Number System?
The classic scenario of a take-a-number system usually happens at a clinic, bank, or government service point.
Most people will be familiar with this robotic and monotonous experience—but, to be clear on what’s involved, we’ll explain how the system works.
There are four steps involved in a take-a-number system:
- The customer registers at the front desk, requests a service, and gets a receipt that features a number.
- The customer waits and watches a large screen that displays different receipt numbers.
- When the number on their receipt is displayed on the screen, that means that the customer is next-in-line.
- The customer approaches the front desk to receive their product or service
This standard take-a-number system is used by many businesses and organizations, from fast-food restaurants to colleges.
Take-a-number systems were developed and implemented to improve efficiency and cut costs.
In reality, the take-a-number system causes greater harm to businesses by worsening the queuing experience, cluttering workflow, and wasting paper.
We’ll be diving into the six problems caused by take-a-number queuing systems. We’ll also demonstrate how a queue management software solution can help businesses achieve better results and provide the ultimate customer experience.
Every business should provide a personalized service to its customers. Why? Because all people deserve to be treated with respect.
From a human standpoint, it seems obvious to treat people kindly. But, for businesses, there’s also a revenue incentive for creating considerate and meaningful interactions.
73% of customers say that friendly employees create positive experiences that convince them to stick with that business or brand. Source
If customers have a positive interaction with your company, they’re more likely to come back. Even the most competitive and cost-efficient fast-food chains should take this fact seriously— a personalized customer experience leads to increased and consistent revenue.
But the take-a-number queue system eliminates the simplest and most powerful way for employees to create a personal interaction with a customer—knowing their name.
Calling a customer by their name is an easy and effective method of creating a positive experience:
- Customers feel special because the staff seems to have made an extra effort
- Customers feel reassured because the staff appears to genuinely care
- Customers feel connected to your organization and have a sense of belonging
But, the take-a-number system eliminates this method of customer service. Instead of their name, customers are allocated a number and must respond to a number to receive their product or service. Even if it’s not intentional, customers can’t help to feel a little dehumanized by this queueing method.
So, why would the take-a-number system do this? Well, when each staff member uses a machine to create orders, automating the next number probably seems like a more accurate and efficient way to serve customers—especially when businesses like Starbucks are renowned for getting names wrong.
Innovative queue management software has changed the way businesses operate by combining personalized customer service with automated software.
If your business uses queue management software, customers can secure a spot in a virtual queue via their smartphone or an on-site tablet. Customers fill in their personal information as part of this process.
Staff only needs to read their screen to know and call-out the name of the next customer. By implementing queue management software, your business ensures a personalized experience for every single customer.
Terrible Waiting Experience
Take-a-number machines were introduced to increase efficiency and reduce wait time for customers. Ironically, customers who receive a numbered ticket and wait for their orders are ensured a terrible waiting experience!
There’s a simple psychological reason for this:
The experience of waiting for something is not the problem, but the perception of the wait time is what causes the most frustration, anger, and even anxiety for customers.
Dr, Richard Larson, an expert on the psychology behind queues, says that people who are unoccupied and bored massively overestimate their wait time.
Take-a-number machines break almost every rule in the business queue handbook. Here’s what we mean:
Queue management systems
Freedom of movement and activity
Customers must stay in one place and watch a screen to see when their order is ready.
Customers receive a notification via their smartphone when they are next in line or their order is ready.
Even if a customer arrives first, their order might be processed after another customer who arrived later. The number system does not translate to an orderly queue.
Customers know their wait time in-advance, so the sensation of competing with others is reduced.
Confirmed wait time
Customers receive no indication of how long they’ll be waiting.
Customers receive an estimated wait time and constant updates to show their progression.
When compared side-by-side, queue management systems are the innovative and intuitive solution to the problems caused by restrictive take-a-number systems.
By giving customers their free time, consistent communication, and an assurance of fair treatment, businesses that use queue management software will dramatically improve waiting experiences for their customers.
A major flaw of the take-a-number system is that it does nothing to support business management and decision making.
Even if take-a-number machines did provide a slight improvement in efficiency by automating a customer-facing process, business managers still face these challenging questions:
- How is staff performing?
- Is there enough staff to serve customers effectively?
- How is customer foot traffic and behaviour fluctuating each day (and across locations)?
- Are there gaps in resources, and where?
- Can resources be reallocated?
- Is the business achieving daily, weekly, and monthly KPI’s?
Collecting, analyzing, and responding to data is an essential part of running a successful business. Without performance monitoring, business owners and managers are forced to make blind calls with no knowledge of how the business is doing.
Businesses that use data-driven performance management, see three major results:
- 60% boost in cost efficiency
- 57% acceleration in strategy and change
- 52% improvement in financial performance
Take-a-number systems are just printing machines. On the other hand, queue management software has been developed to collect, track, and present performance data to help managers gain a better understanding of their business.
With the support of an intelligent software system, managers and business owners can use performance metrics to make more informed decisions.
For example, your store might need to keep track of foot traffic to ensure social distancing is being followed by customers and staff. With queue management software, this data is collected automatically, so you can know how many customers, on average, are visiting your premises on a given day, then respond with the best procedure.
Or, your business might have multiple locations across your city. Queue management software allows you to track hourly, daily, weekly, and monthly performance at each branch so you can compare them side-by-side. With this intel, you might see that resources need to be reallocated away from quieter branches towards locations that are getting busier.
Of course, businesses with take-a-number systems don’t expect these machines to offer high-level data monitoring for business management.
But, with the knowledge that a fully integrated queue management system is out there, it’s a no-brainer to upgrade to a software solution that provides multiple business advantages.
Put yourself in the position of a customer service representative or receptionist. The waiting room is overcrowded with queueing customers who are experiencing queue rage. The front desk employee must calm down each angry and frustrated customer before they can help.
The impact of long queues and wait times affects front desk employees more than anyone else in your business. This is because, on top of doing their job, they must calm down angry customers and organize overcrowded lines. This creates a highly stressful environment that affects an employee’s wellbeing and performance.
Take-a-number systems only exacerbate employee stress that is caused by busy queues and frustrated customers.
This table demonstrates how take-a-number systems exacerbate workplace stressors and how queue management software eliminates them:
Queue management system
All customers must stand close to the display screen and wait for their number to be called.
Customers are free to leave the premises because they’ll receive a smartphone notification to say it’s their turn.
Customers wait for an unknown length of time, leading to queue rage.
Customers are told in advance how long they’ll be waiting, so they feel more secure and prepared.
Staff has no idea what the customer needs or what can be prepared in advance.
Staff is given customer and query details in-advance so they can prepare for each interaction.
No feedback or recognition
Staff performance is not monitored for constructive feedback or rewards.
Staff performance and customer feedback can be tracked to enable constructive reviews and recognition.
To run a successful business, employees must feel valued and motivated in their roles. The benefits of effective queue management stretch far beyond customer satisfaction by minimizing employee stress and creating a more positive work environment.
Take-a-number machines make your employees’ jobs more difficult and increase instances of queue rage from your customers. By simply printing numbered tickets for customers, employees receive no indication of what the customer wants.
This means that customer service representatives must address every customer query on-the-fly, which makes serving busy queues a highly stressful task.
With a queue management software solution, businesses can minimize employee stressors. With the help of a dedicated software solution, your team is better equipped and supported to deliver the ultimate customer experience.
We’ve all heard the popular phrase ‘time flies when you’re having fun’.
Businesses are realizing the importance of keeping customers occupied while they wait. Houston Airport solved this problem by simply moving their luggage carousel to the other side of the terminal, so passengers spent more time walking to their luggage than standing around waiting for it to arrive. Passenger complaints were practically eliminated.
The above example shows that unoccupied wait time feels longer and more frustrating for customers than if they were able to be productive and entertained while they queue.
To improve customer experience, reduce complaints, and offer a more personalized service, businesses must adapt to allow customers the freedom to move and entertain themselves while they wait for service.
But, if your business uses a take-a-number machine system, it’s impossible to give customers their freedom.
With a take-a-number system, customers receive a printed receipt with their number on it. It gives customers no indication of how long they have to wait.
Can the customer leave the premises? No. They have to stand in one place and wait for their number to be called.
Can the customer occupy themselves with another task? No. They must watch a screen to see when their number comes up and avoid missing their spot.
Can the customer see their progress in the queue? No. The screen only shows numbers that are ready to be serviced, so customers don’t know how fast the queue is moving.
Queue management systems give customers the freedom to do whatever they like with their wait time, creating a far more pleasant experience with your company.
- Customers are given their expected wait time in advance, so they can plan their commute or an activity to do while they wait (such as shopping at another store)
- Customers receive push-notifications to show their progress in the queue and update them on their wait time
- Customers can schedule an appointment in their own time, removing the need to wait entirely
By using automation and push notification technology, queue management software can improve communication with customers and shorten their perceived wait time.
Today, concerns for the environment are a worldwide issue. Businesses need to implement clean, green, waste-free practices, or they risk increasing their carbon footprint and driving away customers.
That’s right, environmental sustainability isn’t just a ‘good thing to do’, it now drives customer demand.
These 3 statistics highlight the issue of wasted paper receipts:
- 47% of customers are willing to pay more for sustainable services (Source)
- UK retailers spend £32 million in printing receipts every year (Source)
- Receipts consume over 3 million trees each year in the US (Source)
Businesses that rely on take-a-number machines for customer queues are wasting a huge amount of resources.
As governments worldwide find ways to reduce waste and restrict practices that harm the environment, businesses will soon be penalized for producing receipts—just like plastic bags have been banned in countries around the world.
As people start to recognize the environmental impact of paper receipts, demand will shift towards businesses with more ethical practices.
Businesses that are innovating with paperless systems will be rewarded, as more customers will choose to shop from their store.
Aside from the monetary and environmental cost of producing receipts, businesses that use take-a-number systems place the responsibility for the receipt solely upon the customer.
The customer must take a receipt to receive a product or service, and they must also discard the receipt themselves. Businesses that deny environmental responsibility are viewed in an increasingly negative light.
With the development of cloud-based queue management systems, the need for paper receipts is almost eliminated.
If your business uses queue management software, customers can schedule appointments, secure a spot in the queue, and know when they’re next in line, all via their smartphone.
The next level of queue management software allows the business to streamline services in an eco-friendly way, so customers are twice as happy with your performance!
Take-A-Number Systems Belong In The Past
Business owners that are still using the take-a-number machine put themselves at risk of failure. This outdated queuing system is seriously harmful—to customers, staff, performance, and even the environment.
But there is a solution.
By tackling the problems caused by long queues and unhelpful systems, Skiplino’s queue management software can take your business to the next level.
With the help of our software solution, you can experience the benefits of streamlined workflows, happy customers and staff, eco-friendly processes, and data-driven decision making.