How retailers can better manage in-person services during Covid-19

Raj Sangha
by Raj Sangha

One of the biggest challenges retailers and other customer-facing businesses are up against right now is providing a quality, helpful and engaging level of service while keeping customers and store associates safe. That’s why many are deploying technology such as appointment scheduling software and queue management software to create the same high-touch experience customers expect.

Covid-19 has forced retailers to act fast in order to reopen their stores and minimize the risk to customers and store associates, but that comes at a price. Many retailers have found that the introduction of Perspex screens, face masks and one-way systems have altered the customer journey, leaving many feeling isolated, unengaged and frustrated.

This is particularly true for in-person services, where customers often have no other choice but to wait in long queues to be served by store associates standing behind screens with face masks or guards on.

However, there are a number of ways retailers can create personalized, seamless and engaging experiences for their customers using the latest technology – and they’ve had some impressive results.

1) Eliminate queues to in-store services

The UK’s reputation as patient and respectful queuers first formed during the rationing schemes of World War II, but now, three quarters of a century on, waiting in a physical queue to receive service is no longer a necessity.

A virtual queue management system allows retailers to eliminate queues to in-store services altogether by allowing customers to join a queue remotely.

Customers can join a queue through their mobile phones via SMS or QR code, through a kiosk or through a store associate. Once in the queue, they receive a position number and an estimated wait time by SMS and email (which they can follow in real-time via weblink), or they have access to a TV display that shows their names, position numbers and wait times. They then receive an alert when it’s time for service.

Find out more about queue management software.

Watch this example from telco retailer, O2, which allows customers to enter a queue to receive in-person service without stepping foot inside the store.

2) Allow customers to book appointments for service

Another approach many retailers are using is allowing customers to book appointments with in-store experts online or over the phone.

Not only does this mean customers can dramatically reduce the amount of time spent in-store, it’s also a proven way of increasing foot traffic to stores.

Find out more about appointment scheduling software.

Luxury department store retailer, Brown Thomas, which is owned by Selfridges, uses booking software to allow customers to make appointments online with style and beauty experts. This resulted in a 13% increase in appointments, and 78% of customers made a purchase.

Brown Thomas’s appointment scheduling interface allows customers to choose an appointment with specific consultants.

3) Better manage your team

To ensure their service is efficient and streamlined, many leading retailers are using appointment and queuing software to better manage their store teams during this time.

A queuing system, for instance, allows store teams to easily manage customers requiring service by assigning customers to specific store associates – they can better manage numerous customer journeys and prioritize customers with urgent needs.

Appointment booking software gives store associates the full visibility they need to plan for upcoming appointments, and store managers can assign customers to staff based on their requirements and expertise. This also helps stagger appointments throughout the day, which keeps store staff busy throughout the day rather than feeling overwhelmed during peak times.

Find out more information about Qudini’s queuing and appointment scheduling software here.

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