The Importance of the Queue

I’ve been thinking about queues a lot lately; basically because I’ve been travelling and if there is one thing that the international or domestic air traveler knows it is that you will have to queue: Queuing to check-in; to go through passport control; to go through security; to get a snack or a meal when you are waiting for your flight; when you are waiting to board; when you are waiting to get off again and get on with your non-queuing life. You still have to queue.

That is a whole lot of queuing.

Well the bad news is that there isn’t very much that can be done about most of it. Airports and Airlines and Security procedures are what they are and you just have to grin and bear it. Or scowl and mutter to oneself which is my personal approach. It can get you a few “funny looks” but it also means that people are less keen to sit next to you for some reason. Swings and roundabouts.

But something can be done about queuing for some of the other things in life where we do have options, not least the option to just quit the queue and go somewhere else instead. Let me tell you a little (true) story and offer a high tech solution that might help make the outcome a thing of the past:

I was in a Strip Casino in Las Vegas recently, queuing at an outlet of a famous coffee brand and this queue was literally off and around a corner. Were there that many people dying for their early morning fix so that they could skip a healthy breakfast and end up too wired and crotchety at work for half the morning? It certainly appeared to be so. Now I know what you are thinking, I’m English, we’re good at queuing. It’s maybe the only thing left that we are good at. But I have to let you in on a little secret, it isn’t really true. We aren’t good at queuing; we’re really bad at complaining, so typically we just stand there and mutter.

Back to this coffee queue: So after waiting, with increasing impatience, for the ten minutes it took me to move less than ten feet forward and watching people order who appeared not to have given any thought to what they might actually want until they reached the counter I snap…in a very restrained English way where I just politely left the queue and decided I’d buy my morning beverage elsewhere. Has anyone else done something similar? You just have enough and give up and leave the queue and go elsewhere.

Now this coffee chain probably didn’t mind that I did that, not really, I don’t drink that much coffee from them. Indeed they probably didn’t even know. But the thing was that I wasn’t alone, I was part of a movement (a short lived one to be honest but we had solidarity at the time) because a guy a couple of spots in front of me had enough and left just before I did and the woman behind me walked off too. We made brief and embarrassed eye contact as we drifted away. That resigned “well what can you do?” look.

But the thing was that was three coffees not bought; at least three. How many more transactions would be lost every morning because this chain apparently only schedules two staff members and one open till for the breakfast rush? What sort of revenue loss is that by the end of the week? Of the month? Of the year? More than enough to pay for an extra barista I’d wager.

So why didn’t Management do something about it?

Almost certainly because they didn’t even know.

There was no-one there to monitor the length of the queue. The number of people in it. The length of time to handle a check or the average value of what was being ordered. There was no way to know how much money was in the queue and therefore how much was leaving when the tedium of queuing became too much for them. Management was almost certainly completely ignorant.

But they needn’t be. Because there is a solution out there and I can feel proud of it by proxy because the Company I work for developed it and even I can see what a game changer it is.

Now “game changer” is an overused phrase. So many things are touted as being “game changers” that the former power of the phrase has been all but leeched away. So let’s be descriptive instead:

What if the people in a management position for this coffee chain could not only know how many people were in their queue, but could tie this information in to the data from their POS system and calculate the time taken to serve one customer and therefore the wait time in the queue?

What if they could take the average value of the checks being processed and calculate the average spend waiting in the queue?

What if they could look back over historical records and see the peaks and troughs of the daily, weekly or monthly business cycle. When was busy and when was not. When staff could safely be sent on a break and when it was “all hands to the pumps”. What if they could do all of that with just a couple of mouse clicks?

With this information think of the potential increases in revenue (less people like me and two others like me leaving to go elsewhere) because the business could respond quicker and more accurately to their actual business levels because they would have a much better handle on this potential loss. It wouldn’t be a guessing game anymore it would be real data from real events and real analytics.

What if this system leveraged existing state-of-the-art theft and fraud detection meaning a business that was more responsive to its customer base and more secure? A business that knew what was happening, where it was happening and what the outcomes of this happening were?

Now wouldn’t that actually deserve the phrase of being a game changer?

Well eCounter from eConnect does all that…and more. Why not check it out yourself in the link below and maybe, just maybe, there will be less queuing in all of our futures.


Of course this technology isn’t only good for the food and beverage space but for basically any queue where the people in it have the discretionary power to leave and go elsewhere if they find the experience too trying.

So imagine it for Amusement Parks: sure you see the signs telling you that if you are here then you have a 10-minute wait left. But haven’t you always felt that these were bogus? Where did they get those numbers from anyway? What if the sign was interactive and truthful? What if it could tell you how long the queue was actually going to take based upon the actual through-put of the ride or other reason to actually be standing there?

What if this could be monitored so more staff could be put on to increase traffic flow and this was reflected in the signage too?

“Well it was 10-minutes to wait but that’s dropped to 7-minutes…guess I’ll stay here after all.”

Wouldn’t that be a much better customer experience than what most customers get at the moment? It could even be incorporated into an app to show the customers themselves where the queues are shortest and therefore where they’ll get the most enjoyment for their hard earned dollar/euro/pound/yen, maximizing their customer experience and making them more likely to want to repeat it.

Because the one thing that leaves everyone cold is waiting in queues.


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