"The key feature is that it gathers data for you," says Bäcker. "That's something a pager can't do. For example, QLess tells you how many customers you are losing, your busiest wait times, and customer return rates."
The system also automatically forecasts wait times based on historical averages and estimates of how long it takes to serve each customer. This information can be used to plan staffing for peak hours or to help decide when it makes sense to open another location.
Bäcker adds that the software does this far better than humans do. "QLess provides a wait forecast to customers, but if workers feel that estimate is wrong, they can override it," he says. "When workers override the forecast, they habitually decrease accuracy by 40 percent. When that forecast is inaccurate, customers are 75 percent less likely to return another time."
That's a lot of lost sales -- and Bäcker says that long lines on the whole are responsible for businesses losing up to 50 percent of their clientele.
Basic installations of QLess are free, but big corporations (and organizations like the DMV, where you can probably see this software in action) pay millions for more advanced setups. It sounds pricey, but the company promises a 400% ROI and says it has a 99 percent customer satisfaction level.
"Most businesses don't know how many people leave instead of waiting," says Bäcker. "With QLess it becomes painfully apparent."
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