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In Hybrid Work Environment, Agencies See Value in Virtual Queues

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Smart-scheduling software improves the constituent experience whether in-person or from home.

Nobody wants to stand in line. Queueing up for service is frustrating and inconvenient. It’s a waste of time and resources. And as the pandemic has made clear, crowding into a waiting room isn’t just annoying – it can be a public health hazard.

Forward-thinking government organizations are putting an end to waiting in line. They’re implementing new tools that allow constituents to schedule appointments, check their status on a web page or mobile app, skip the line and receive a text notification when it’s their turn. These solutions aren’t just about customer convenience: The right scheduling software is a valuable data management tool for clearing bottlenecks and benchmarking employee performance.

Smart-scheduling software isn’t limited to reducing wait times. It’s an important part of broader efforts to offer more virtualized services. In much the same way that agencies have deployed chatbots to direct users to the right service, organizations can use smart-scheduling platforms to shift customer journeys to digital options that can be accomplished without ever needing to interact face-to-face with a government employee.

These kinds of solutions have arrived at just the right time, says Michael Twersky, the co-founder and CEO of Whyline, a software company that helps companies and governments overcome queueing challenges and bottlenecks with smart scheduling technology.

“Waiting in line is obviously a pain point that has existed forever,” Twersky says. “People have acclimated to this pain point over the years because, historically speaking, there was no viable solution.”

That began to change in the past decade, Twersky says, with the advent of smart wayfinding technologies such as Google Maps and Waze. Suddenly, users could receive customized plans for their journeys down to the minute, along with information about potential congestion and delays. Individuals could even play around with the variables – What if I left 30 minutes later? What if I took surface streets instead of the highway? -- to further customize their plans and minimize their time stuck in traffic going from Point A to Point B.

As users grew accustomed to those technologies, a new source of frustration began to arise: How long will it take me once I get inside Point B?

“There was no comparable solution that gave you that pristine visibility inside your destination of choice,” Twersky says. “What are the live congestion levels right now? What are the live wait times by service? And can I game it by entering into the queue from my home – or from anywhere – and effectively let software wait on my behalf?”

Software solutions like Whyline provide that visibility. Users can view real-time information on lines and wait times for the exact service they need. They can get in line virtually or change their plans accordingly.

For people in need of government services, the thought of standing in line was a frustrating inconvenience. Then, last year, it became downright dangerous.

“All of this has been amplified by the COVID pandemic,” Twersky says. “It elevated that pain point from something that really struck a nerve with folks to a potentially life-saving solution.”

Convenience and a Better Management Tool

Smart-queueing technologies don’t just provide a safer and more seamless customer experience. They also serve as a valuable tool for administrators and managers in government agencies. Seeing how many people are waiting in a virtual queue – and what specific services they need – allows agencies to better manage staffing levels throughout the day. And it enables them to serve constituents faster and more efficiently.

“It’s a win-win for the administrators because they want to be able to gain better visibility into who’s coming before they get there, and what they’re coming in for,” Twersky says. “The ability to get advanced information to better prepare for their arrival … is really compelling. It leads to more efficient servicing and faster service times, all of which lead to reportable ROIs from a cost-savings standpoint.”

Organizations have the ability to integrate this software into kiosks or other existing hardware systems. And they can choose to embed it with legacy CRMs, ERPs and workforce management solutions – even electronic medical records systems for health facilities. But all that’s really required is an internet connection. The consumer-facing aspect of the software can be accessed via desktop, tablets or any mobile device.

Scheduling software has already been implemented by a wide range of agencies that provide constituent services – from DMVs and municipal courthouses to permitting offices, airports and school registration centers. Whyline has also worked with public health agencies to create virtual queues for COVID test centers and vaccination centers. The company’s public sector partners include municipal agencies in Irving, Texas; Providence, R.I.; and Lincoln, Neb.; as well as global cities such as Buenos Aires. Whyline also serves numerous companies in the private sector, including multi-national banks, Fortune 500 retailers and premiere health facilities.

In addition to streamlining wait times, this technology also plays an important role broader digital transformation efforts. It can integrate identification verification technologies as well as touchless payment capabilities, meaning that many constituent interactions to be handled entirely online.

With the increased virtualization of services, smart-queueing software is an important part of the future of government organizations. It is a key management tool to reduce bottlenecks and congestion, and aligns with evolving constituent demands for government services to be as efficient and seamless as their interactions with private companies.

“There are high expectations for the public sector to solve the wait-time problem,” says Twersky.