How to achieve online fairness

Recently, I read the blog post “What’s Your Approach to Your Queuing Experience?“ from Adrian Swinscoe. It’s an interesting read, and very much in line with our approach at Queue-it.

Published: 04. May 2016
Experiencing virtual waiting room

He concludes that “when designing a queuing experience, make sure you don’t take just a purely theoretical, rational, and efficiency-based approach, as this ignores the emotional impact of any new queuing system”. He also points out that tests show that customers value fairness more than greater queue efficiency.

Online fairness

At Queue-it, we are very focused on the concept of fair queuing. Our ambition is to create online fairness on transactional websites, and we believe that the ‘first come, first serve’ principle is the fairest approach to queuing. Specifically, this means that when your online activity starts, end-users exceeding your website capacity limits are offloaded to the queue system. As capacity opens up, Queue-it redirects the end-users who waited in line back to your website in the correct, sequential order and pace.

Queuing strategy

In Swinscoe’s post, he says to ask yourself what little extras you can do to either make your queue an integrated part of the end-to-end experience or to make the queuing process easier for both you and your customer. At Queue-it, we look at it is this way. Start by making a queuing strategy. In the process of defining the strategy, you will answer Swincoe’s questions, but you also need to take a strategic approach on how you want to handle the situation if you choose to use an online queuing solution to ensure the optimal end-user experience.

For instance, should your website be configured to always monitor the queue page, which means that the queuing system will automatically be activated when there is a need, or would you rather set up a queue for each activity or campaign? What message do you want your end-users to see when they get to the queue page? Should they also be offered additional information on the queue page? Should you try to cross-sell, or perhaps have people sign up for your newsletter on the queue page? Go through all of the potential scenarios and design the queue experience with your end-users in mind. How do they get the most optimal and fair experience?

Psychology of queuing

Another important aspect of queuing is the psychology of queuing. Research shows that the experience of waiting is more important than the actual time spent waiting. Let’s take a look at David Maister’s recommendations for things to consider for a secure queuing strategy from his book The Psychology of Waiting in Lines:

  • Unoccupied time feels longer than occupied time
  • People want to get started
  • Anxiety makes waits seem longer
  • Uncertain waits are longer than known, finite waits
  • Unexplained waits are longer than explained waits
  • Unfair waits are longer than equitable waits

If you take the above-mentioned recommendations into consideration as well when designing your queuing strategy, you should be well on your way.

Will your virtual waiting room achieve online fairness?