Waiting in line at the airport to check a bag may be one of the most anxiety-inducing parts of a vacation. As an airline passenger, there's no way to predict how long check-in lines will be when you arrive—especially as of late, when a surge of post-COVID travel is being met by the staffing shortages gripping every industry across the country.
Improving customer satisfaction was a challenge recently presented by a national airline. With a goal of moving passengers through its lines as quickly as possible, the airline craved a solution that would alert station managers if wait times exceeded eight minutes and determine if agent counters were properly staffed during peak hours. But the airline didn't have the data needed to assess these problems and come up with solutions.
Enter: Realwave, an intelligent video surveillance solutions company and AI partner to Bailiwick. Utilizing cameras installed in the airline's lobby, the airline is able to capture the length of lines, calculate how long customers were waiting in line before reaching a kiosk, and examine how many agents were present to accommodate passengers.
"It doesn't use facial recognition," says Joe Hinrichs, the vice president of IT and product development for Bailiwick, which partners with Realwave to offer intelligent video services to its clients. "What we're doing instead is using other indicators—a hat color, a bag they're carrying, maybe they're wearing a black jacket—and tying those things together to identify an individual. We're not storing information on a particular person; we're creating an identification through a set of characteristics, and then we're assigning them a number."
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In the airline's case, the data collected by the cameras—and then transmitted to a real-time dashboard—was able to aid the airline in making staffing decisions to keep passenger wait times under the eight-minute goal.
"For a good customer experience, standing in line for a long time is something you want to really limit," says Hinrichs. "You want to be able to move people through quickly—not only for a pleasant experience for the customer, but so that you can get more people through the line, which oftentimes translates to more business."
AI video technology can also be tapped to monitor engagement with customers, potentially leading to an increase in a company's sales. "Engagement is part of the customer experience, but it's also a store gain benefit," says Hinrichs, explaining how brick-and-mortars can leverage this technology.
Through video cameras, retailers can track how long it takes for an employee to make contact with a customer once they arrive, as well as observe whether the salesperson walks through the store with the customer, pulls product from shelves, and shares information about certain items.
For example, "The idea at a shoe store is that the customer doesn't walk out with just a pair of shoes," says Hinrichs. "The salesperson might ask the customer not only about the type of shoe they're looking for, but also what kind of socks they need to wear with the shoe. Basically, a more thorough engagement could result in a much larger basket share."
Of course, despite your best efforts to improve staffing inefficiencies and engage the customer as promptly as possible, there will still be instances when waiting for service is inevitable, whether it's checking a bag with an airline or checking out groceries at the supermarket. Make the "waiting game" as enjoyable as possible by implementing the following strategies.