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Virtual Queuing – Service Queue Management for Social Distancing

Research indicates that people spend between two to five years of their lifetime waiting in queues to obtain services. That is between 17 to 43 thousand hours of an average human lifespan. The dominant cost of this is both physical and emotional stress. Prior to the inception of virtual queuing, we had no choice other than to be in the dubious position of finding the correct queue and physically stand in-line until it’s our turn to be served.


What is Virtual Queuing?


Virtual queuing empowers customers to access services without the need to physically wait in-line. It enables customers to wait anywhere, monitor their queue position in real-time, and receive notifications when it’s their turn to be served. Upon arrival, a customer can be identified by name, phone number, social security number etc. and placed in a virtual queue. The virtual queue is invisible in the sense that customers are not confined to a specific queue position, so they don’t know their position in the queue relative to others. A customer’s position in the queue is secured by a physical ticket printed by a ticket printer or a mobile ticket sent to the customer’s phone as a text message.



How does it work?


With a virtual queue management technology, customers can remotely get in-line through a mobile ticket - an online ticket that can be viewed on a mobile phone. The process starts with the customer checking-in by scanning a QR code or being assisted by a mobile concierge who is a staff member of the service organisation.



There are several ways a customer could “virtually” get in-line. Below are the most common:


  1. Customers use their mobile phones to scan a QR code which is posted outside the service premise (e.g. at the main entrance/door or window)
  1. A web page or a mobile application will present a list of services from which the customer can choose a service and get in-line a virtual queue.



If a customer has confirmed an appointment in advance:


  1. Customer will receive an email or a text message when the appointment is created and enable the appointment for committing a self-arrival through the system.
  1. Customer will be able to “self-arrive” and get in-line for the appointment within a pre-defined time period decided by the system based on the actual appointment time.




  1. Customers can wait remotely (may be at the convenience of their home or car) and monitor their position in the queue through their mobile phones. They will be able to view queue movement progress on a real-time basis (i.e. how they move forward in the queue from one position to another, expected waiting time etc.) and also receive notifications when they reach a certain position (e.g. 3rd in-line) in the queue.
  1. When their turn arrives to be served, a staff member will send a notification to the customer through a virtual queueing staff app. Upon receiving this notification, the customer can visit the service desk and be served while maintaining a safe distance.




Virtual Queuing


What is a Mobile Ticket?


A mobile ticket is a virtual ticket which is an alternative to a physical or paper ticket. Customers can obtain mobile tickets using their mobile phones. It provides customers the flexibility to choose a service of their preference and get in-line, sans the need to get a paper ticket or the help of a staff member. Further, it provides the convenience and safety of waiting anywhere and the ability to monitor the queue position and receive notifications. Thus, avoiding the need to be physically present in a crowded waiting area.



Does Virtual Queuing help Social Distancing?


Virtual queuing is all about managing the customer journey in a virtual space from the start to end. Thus, customers will be able to maintain a safe distance with the staff members and other customers. Since customers check-in and wait in-line remotely, they avoid interacting with touchscreens or any other device that require physical interaction. There are several important aspects in the virtual queuing concept which helps maintain social distancing.


  • Pre-arrival – Book an appointment in advance through an online booking system or a phone call.
  • Self check-in – Scan a QR code which is placed outside the service premise or self-arrive for an appointment which was created in advance in order to check-in while maintaining a safe distance.
  • Wait remotely – Customers can wait anywhere and monitor their queue position and progress remotely, receive a notification when they reach a certain position in the queue and when they are called to be served.



What are the Benefits of Virtual Queuing during the COVID-19 Pandemic?


Virtual queue management solutions offer great benefits in an environment where COVID-19 related health regulations need to be adhered by service providers (such as social distancing, limiting service floor crowding etc.), yet it is essential for the service provider that the business operations remain efficient and productive.


Some sectors that will benefit from implementing virtual queue management solutions include:


  • Public Administration: Government agencies and public service organisations
  • Healthcare: Hospitals, Clinics, COVID-19 test/quarantine centres and other healthcare facilities
  • Retail: Supermarkets, Pharmacies and other essential retail stores
  • Financial Institutes: Commercial Banks


As an increase in customer footfall can be expected in establishments operating in the above sectors, a virtual queuing solution will help streamline service efficiency, maintain social distancing, limit the number of visitors, and enable optimising customer experience at face-to-face customer touch points while avoiding unscheduled visits to minimise crowd gathering at the service floor. This in turn leads to the safety of customers and the service staff during the pandemic.




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