In this day and age, every modern business needs to have an SMS marketing strategy. While finding or creating marketing templates for SMS is important, you also need to think about the organization and management of the texts you send customers. This is where an SMS service management system comes into play. This is a program that helps you manage and queue text messages for your business.
Once your team is comfortable using SMS for business, it’s time to think about other potential applications. One of the best uses of SMS marketing is using text messages to manage lines and waitlists.
With the right customer queue management software, you can boost the customer experience and overall efficiency while improving your waiting line management. Customers will appreciate the transparency, and you may even generate more leads for your SMS marketing in the process.
What is an SMS service management system?
An SMS service management system combines the functions of a text management platform and queue management software. A text management system is exactly what it sounds like. This is a piece of software or a program that lets you efficiently manage and organize your SMS conversations.
Meanwhile, queue management software lets you manage customers while they wait, whether for appointments, reservations, or the ability to enter your store. This software was particularly useful for controlling occupancy at stores during the height of the COVID-10 pandemic.
The idea is that instead of having customers physically wait in a line for their turn, you can just text them an update from your business’ SMS shortcode.
How to choose an SMS queue management software step-by-step
As you consider what software to use for your queue management, the most important steps will involve knowing what factors to consider.
1. See if your SMS campaign provider offers queue management
The best starting point would be using the same platform or company you already use for your other SMS marketing methods. After all, you are already familiar with their system and customer support. You also know that you won’t have any issues integrating the new software with your existing software.
2. Confirm the integration abilities and process
Whether or not you choose to use a customer queue management system from a company you already work with, confirm that it will work with all of the relevant programs you have and that it is easy to set up.
3. Check hardware requirements
You also want to pay attention to the hardware requirements for your chosen system. The good news is that SMS queue management software requires significantly less hardware and bandwidth than traditional queue management systems. After all, there are no buzzers to worry about.
4. Think about how you will use the software and the customer journey
Every company will have slightly different needs for their SMS queue management system depending on their customer journey and how they plan to use it. For example, is it a line for walk-ins at a restaurant? Is it a line to be seen for appointments at the doctor’s office? Or maybe it’s a line for a virtual service, such as talking to customer service on the phone or video chat?
The most common ways you can use the software include:
- Lining up for in-person services, such as at restaurants and service-based businesses like salons
- Lining up to enter a store, such as those with restricted occupancy due to COVID but remain in high demand
- Lining up for a virtual service, such as a video call or phone call
- Notifying customers when their curbside order is ready, and they should pull up to the designated space
This is also the time to consider if you just need a simple queuing solution or if you want a virtual queue that lets you prioritize specific customers for operational efficiency or customer experience.
5. Consider the features and functionalities you want
Next, you need to think about what functionalities you need in queue management software. The following are some of the most common features of a smart queue management system.
- Virtual check-in
- Queueing using a keyword for SMS
- Real-time notifications
- Accurate estimates of wait time
- Multiple queue types, including for VIP customers
- Multi-language support
- Customizable for branding
- Accessible across devices
- Opt-ins or subscriptions for future marketing
- Ability to accept appointments and walk-ins
You also want to make sure that your chosen solution is customizable. This is typically a natural result of offering the above features.
6. See what’s included in the reporting feature
Spend some extra time looking at the reports that your chosen software offers. The system should include metrics on the number of people in the queue, the number of people served, and average wait times.
Ideally, these reports can help you spot peak times as you would expect from visitor flow monitoring software. If there is any specific data you want to know, such as customers’ most common area codes, make sure the software collects information on it.
7. Explore the dashboard
As you explore the features of your chosen software, don’t forget to look at the dashboard and the features that you will find there. At a minimum, you need to be able to see the queue and their estimated wait times.
Ideally, you can also interact with customers to a greater extent than just sending them a text when it is their turn. For example, maybe you can ask them follow-up questions about their needs. An example would be asking if they prefer a table or booth in a restaurant.
You should also be able to add and remove people from the queue via the dashboard.
8. Confirm the solution is secure
Before choosing any software, ensure that it is secure. You want to protect the privacy of your customers at all times. After all, security is the most basic of customer expectations for any queuing system.
9. Make sure it is mobile-optimized
While most customers’ interactions with your queue system will be via text message, they will need to enter the queue at some point. This will likely require some sort of action on their end. Ensure that whatever action they need to take is optimized for mobile devices, as most customers will be on their smartphones. This will improve the customer experience.
Why businesses should use an SMS queue management system
If you need a refresher about how an SMS service management system can help your business, consider the following.
Manage customer flow and your workload more effectively
One of the biggest benefits will be the efficiency and effectiveness of your business operations, specifically your ability to manage customer flow. If you use a manual system to manage queues, you put a high burden on your employees. This is even true with various queue management systems that still require a fair amount of input from your team. That’s especially true during your business’s peak hours.
By contrast, queue management software makes it easy to manage the flow of customers. Your team can focus on their other tasks, and you will likely only need one person, at most, to handle the line.
You will also notice that your workload management improves compared to if you didn’t have a line at all. After all, you can use the queue to control the speed at which customers enter, so you get to choose a balanced pace.
Add transparency into the waiting process
Customers will also strongly appreciate the transparency that comes with using a queue management system to manage lines. With traditional buzzers or waitlists that require you to call out names, customers don’t know where they stand on the list. They either deal with that unknown or waste your team’s time asking for updates.
By contrast, SMS systems give estimated wait times and real-time data. This gives customers the ability to check their wait time themselves. They will appreciate both the transparency and the element of control, and the result is improved customer satisfaction and a better customer experience.
Reports dashboards & predictive analysis
We mentioned the importance of reporting when choosing a system, and for a good reason. The reports that you get on your dashboard can give you crucial insights into your operations. Even at the simplest level, knowing the average wait time can let you know if you need to improve. Every other bit of information you get from the dashboard or predictive analytics helps you better plan and make further improvements to boost your efficiency and customer satisfaction.
You may even decide you need a longer wait time. This may apply if customers browse a retail section while waiting for services, as you want their wait to be long enough for them to find products to buy.
Treat every customer like a VIP
There’s also the fact that SMS queueing makes customers feel more important. It delivers a much more personalized experience than a paper list and calling out names or even buzzers. This, in turn, makes your customers feel like VIPs.
The main downside of SMS queue management systems is that they require customers to offer you a phone number to reach them at. Some people may feel uncomfortable giving you this information. Others may not have a functional cellphone or not have one at all. Depending on your client base, they may not be comfortable texting on their phone.
You can overcome this with a backup option for those situations.
Having an SMS service management system to manage your queues will boost your customer satisfaction and your efficiency. There are some great systems available, the best of which will also handle your SMS marketing campaigns.