With Henmania set to hit new heights at Wimbledon this summer on the back of Tim Henman’s exploits at the French Open, the nation’s other obsession, queueing, will also come to the fore.
And while Britons may be the world’s best queuers, the same can’t be said when it comes to managing queues, according to leading Queue Management Consultancy Qm Group. The company advises many of the UK’s leading retailers as well as countless public sector organisations from local government to airports on the management of the overall waiting experience.
According to Qm Group, the failure to look at how we manage queues is giving rise to a new phenomenon, Queue Rage.
Qm Group Sales Director Alistair Agnew said: “We may be a nation of queuers but some organisations could manage the process better. We tend to rely on British self-discipline and natural reserve to ensure order rather than actively organising a queue.
“This is changing and people are becoming less tolerant of those who break the self imposed order. Queue rage is a very real phenomenon and we are seeing it occur on a daily basis. At its most basic level, it runs at the level of sarcastic quips directed at those who break the unwritten rules of the queue, but on a more serious level we are seeing physical violence occurring.
“In reality most of these incidents are avoidable through good planning and management.
“I’m not suggesting for a moment that we will see the middle classes of middle England rioting at SW18 simply because someone jumps the queue in a bid to get a seat to see Henman in action, but as a nation we are becoming less tolerant of rule breakers.
“This summer we will see thousands queuing at Wimbledon and millions waiting at airports and we should really be encouraging service providers to do more for us. It is not difficult to see why queue rage occurs. If you put a large number of people in an environment that is not designed for a long time to be spent waiting, tempers become frayed.”
With concern over the rise of Queue Rage, Qm Group is advising service providers to review their procedures when it comes to managing the waiting experience.
The company has launched a five-point charter to keep tempers cool and queues moving this summer and is encouraging service providers to give thought to the issues its customers will face.
Fair is Fair
The most common cause of queue rage is the lack of a clearly explained system, which ensures fair treatment for all. In the absence of a fair system order quickly breaks down and Qm Group is recommending that service providers ensure their queue rules are fair and clearly explained.
Inform, Entertain and Amuse
Queueing is a fact of life and by keeping customers informed and entertained they are less likely to realise how long they’ve been waiting. This is not a substitute for a fair system but keeping customers informed of waiting times or providing entertainment for really long queues can help diffuse tension, especially if large numbers of children are waiting.
Do Not Abuse Your Customer
It may be tempting to view people waiting in a queue as a captive audience and start bombarding them with sales messages. This is a big no-no according to Qm Group. Information screens should be used to inform and entertain rather than advertise.
First Impressions Count, Last Impressions Last
For many service providers, waiting to pay is the customer’s last experience of the way the service provider deals with them and it can form a lasting impression so it is worth going the extra mile. Make sure staff are ultra courteous and leave a positive lasting impression; there is nothing most consumers hate more than having to queue, only to be treated with discourtesy.
Be Different, Be Exceptional
If you have the opportunity, make the extra effort. Treat customers in queues with extra care – if it’s a hot day why not give them a free drink and a sandwich. It might cost money, but the money it does cost is probably a fraction of the total this customer might spend over their lifetime.
If customers are standing around for hours why not bring in a masseur to offer free massages to soothe aching limbs. All it requires is some advanced planning. Scheduled airlines can and often do offer refreshments to delayed passengers, but this kind of treatment needs to become the norm rather than the exception.
As Alistair Agnew points out: “None of this is rocket science but some service providers tend to rely on self-management of queues and put simply this is no longer enough. We need to become far more proactive in our approach if we are to avoid scuffles breaking out in future.”
About Qm Group
The Qm Group was founded in 1989 by Martin Christie and Terry Green. The group was founded around the invention of the world’s first audio-based call forward queueing system (think Post Office cashier number 3 please). The Qm Group then helped set the global standard in audio-based queue management and has always stayed true to its roots in Invention and Innovation.
Today, the company still has full time inventors, model making shops and prototype development. Qm does not buy and re-badge its systems - Qm Group creates, invents, manufactures, installs and maintains systems. To date, Qm Group has more than 4000 systems and 32,000 barriers in the market place that help more than 28 million people enjoy the waiting experience every month. The company employs 60 people and in the past twelve months has experienced nearly 40% growth. Qm Group’s clients include Argos. Boots The Chemist, Woolworth’s, Matalan, Tesco, Orange, HBOS and Post Office Limited
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