How to manage queues with SMS alerts

Whether you’re a shop, supermarket or providing an essential service, SMS helps you cut crowds and wait times – especially in emergencies.

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Cut crowds and chaos

Queue management is useful even in the good times. In an emergency, it can keep critical services running smoothly – no long lines, no overcrowding, no disruption.

Anticipate customer needs

With SMS updates, your customers know when to turn up – and you know how to prepare for their arrival in the most efficient, effective way.

Avoid disappointment

Deliver critical services to more people – and prevent people from wasting a journey when you’re already operating at capacity.

Save their spot

Customers can opt into your SMS queue online or by texting a keyword. This secures their spot in line, just like a paper ticketing system would in person – but with the benefit of convenience, scale and social distancing.

Send and receive updates

Automated messages let them know how they’re progressing through the queue. You might offer other helpful updates depending on the data you have – like travel-time estimates and traffic updates. If they’re delayed, customers can let you know to hold their spot.


Be ready to welcome them

Queue management isn’t just convenient for the customer – it helps you know who’s coming, when, and what they need. So you can get everything ready and offer a more personalized service.

Gather insights and feedback

The data you gather from your SMS queue system will help you spot patterns in demand and optimize your service in a crisis. You can also survey your customers for feedback immediately after they use it.

When SMS can streamline queues in crisis:

  • Grocery stores
  • Emergency rooms
  • Doctors’ offices
  • Clinics and medical testing labs
  • Pharmacists
  • Food banks
  • Welfare offices
  • Banks

Email and phone aren’t suitable channels when your customers are travelling to you. With SMS, 98% of messages are read, 90% of them within three minutes – so they stay up to date.

The average retailer will lose 10% of its footfall due to queues and waiting times for service. In a crisis that figure is likely to be much higher.

Anxiety makes queue waits feel longer. When customers are confident in the system in place, the experience feels quicker, more efficient and less stressful – building confidence in your brand.

26% of customers who walk out of stores due to long waiting times will discontinue their purchase completely.

It has to be easy

Queue management systems are only effective if they’re widely adopted and adhered to. Use a messaging platform that makes it drag-and-drop easy to set up the messaging campaign. And make your opt-ins and updates simple so everyone can use them.

Help those who need it

Priority queuing services help your elderly and vulnerable customers, as well as essential workers.

Make it a two-way conversation

SMS empowers your customers with updates – but it also enables them to give you critical information. Take advantage with two-way messaging, so you know who’s coming, who’s delayed, and how to prepare for their arrival.

Report and optimize

Use your messaging platform to create reports that give you insights into visitor traffic, delays and issues, customer feedback and more. Then use that data to staff appropriately, redirect traffic where possible, and improve processes continuously.

The most profound source of anxiety in waiting is how long the wait will be.

David Maister Author of The Psychology of Waiting Lines


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