Wednesday, December 10th, 2014 .

santa noshlist

Memories of sitting on Santa’s lap can evoke strong feelings of nostalgia for many of us, and continuing the tradition of capturing these magical moments can be a must-do for parents and grandparents of younger children.  The problem is that the holiday season is already a very busy time of year, and getting a turn on Santa’s lap usually requires some waiting. In worst case scenarios, it can even take several hours. Santa’s Playground and Santa’s Castle in Calgary have found a way to give back some of this precious time to families this holiday season by using NoshList for their waitlist.

Believe Imaging, an event photography company founded by Shelagh Anderson, photographs children with Santa at two of the busiest malls in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. At each location, employees are tasked with the responsibility of making sure every child who visits gets a turn to tell Santa what they would like for Christmas.

On average, the two centers combined receive upwards of 7,000 visits per week during the holiday season from November 23 through December 24.  To better handle the large number of visitors, Anderson was able to streamline the registration process and improve the customer experience by rolling out NoshList at both locations.

Prior to the launch of NoshList, employees were using pen and paper to take down names and numbers.

“The problem with pen and paper was the constant barrage of customers coming to ask if it was their turn because there was no visual display letting the customers know where they were in line,” Anderson said.

At first Anderson researched paging system, but the high initial and ongoing costs led her to seek an alternative solution.

“Originally in 2013 I sought out pagers, but after speaking to someone who had a system in excess of $3,000 I thought to myself that it didn’t make sense to invest in that archaic technology and there had to be a better way,” she said. “So I started looking on the Internet and came across NoshList in March 2014. This type of concept has been in my head for a number of years, so finding NoshList has definitely helped us realize some of the vision that I’ve had over the years.”

With the busiest days bringing over 700 kids to see Santa, children and their families can wait up to an hour for their turn.  While there is a play room in each location to ease the boredom, having a waitlist system like NoshList gives parents and families the ability to do other things while waiting for their turn.

“In terms of improving communications with our customers and allowing them the opportunity to roam the shopping center rather than stand in line, NoshList has been extremely well received by both mall administration and customers,” Anderson said. “Mothers are thrilled because they can register and know their kids are going to see Santa, while they have the freedom to go get a drink, use the restroom, continue shopping, or do other things.”

Registration is handled by three employees who are each armed with an iPad to start the waitlist process.Customers can see their places in line by clicking on a link to the public waitlist view and get a better estimate of how much longer it will be before their turn. The company also encourages their customer service desks to also log on to www.waitlist.me/n/believe_mm to accurately convey to customers who phone in asking about the wait times.

But the best part is that employees can also take down the children’s names and ages so Santa is prepared even before the child makes it to his lap.

“The elf standing next to Santa can relay the names of the next kids to him, and it adds that extra level of magic to the experience,” Anderson said. “If you’re a child and you round the corner and Santa calls you by name, that’s pretty awesome.”

believe imaging

Monday, November 24th, 2014 .

NoshList continues to be used by more industries beyond restaurants. From urgent care centers to educational businesses and bowling alleys, the wait list app is forever changing how businesses interact with their customers. To make the experience even better, WaitList has just released a number of new features for customizing the waitlist and notifications process.

Customized Waitlist View

Many places serve individual customers rather than large groups or parties, so we have included an option in the settings that will simplify the waitlist view and flow for adding customers to not show party size. Similarly, many places will assign customers to a person or something that isn’t numerical like a table number, so we have made it easier to add and display longer descriptions. For example, a salon can assign customers to the name of a salonist rather than a number. There is more space in the waitlist view to display names and you can enter all the people or resource names you want to assign customers to in the “Manage Assignments” part of the settings. We still have the old view for any restaurants or places that track group sizes, and you can change this in the “Customize Waitlist” part of the settings. You can also change the display of the “Reservations” section if your business makes appointments rather than reservations.

Example of waitlist for individuals, with no parties column and more room for assignments:

Example of waitlist for parties, with group size column:

Customized Notifications

We have had the ability to customize text and phone notifications from the NoshList website, and now we have also added that to the settings in apps. Just go into the Settings and choose the “Manage Notifications” option.

View for customizing text notifications:

View for customizing phone call notifications:

Simpler Waitlist

Instead of having separate buttons to seat and remove customers, we have combined these into a single check button for checking people off the list. When pressing on that you can choose to “Check off” the people that have been seated or served or you can choose to “Delete” them if they canceled or walked away before it was their turn. To make the waitlist history easier to find, we have changed the toggle for displaying history to appear below the waitlist, where the history will actually appear rather than in a button in the upper left that was often missed in our user testing.

All of these updates are currently in the latest version of the NoshList Waitlist app and in the online waitlist on www.Waitlist.me and the customizable waitlist is in the Android app. Changing the notifications and the new history view will be coming to Android soon.

Monday, October 27th, 2014 .

10 park lanes logoBowling is a great form of entertainment for for those times when we’re one-on-one or with a group of friends. But waiting for a lane can deflate even the most enthusiastic crowd. Using NoshList to manage their waitlist, the team at 10 Park Lanes found a way to make it easy for guests to eat, drink and play.

When 10 Park Lanes first opened in Charlotte, N.C., the venue consisted of bowling lanes and not much else. However, a renovation nearly three years ago included the addition of several restaurants and bars, and is considered a premier entertainment center.

Prior to NoshList, 10 Park Lanes staff wrote each name down using pen and paper, and often lost customers as a result of long wait times. The bowling alley has now been using NoshList for two years to handle the more than 2,000 people that walk through its doors every weekend. With such a high volume of clientele, waits can last anywhere from three to five hours.

The NoshList app was easy to install and easy to use for both staff and customers.

“Our demographic is people who are used to using technology like this,” said Jeff Burns, 10 Park Lanes bowling manager. “They really had no issues with this sort of communication.”

It also has given people the ability to put their name on the waitlist, leave and come back when their lane is ready.

“We have a 3-hour wait and we needed a way to track people down,” said Aaron Sheets, 10 Park Lanes director of operations. “We’re in a trendy area in Charlotte with a series of bars surround the street so we use the app to tell people their lanes are available. If we’re busy, customers can walk next door or go outside and still be able to receive our texts.”

10 park lanes

 

The app is used across two iPads and the company uses it to track not only waiting customers, but also where they’re from. Using the QuickNotes feature, 10 Park Lanes staff can input customer zip codes and uses the information for marketing purposes.

The system works fantastic,” Burns said. “It does what it is definitely supposed to do. It allows us to track people, page them and get them back into the building when their lane is ready.”

– By Valerie Killifer, special to NoshList

Monday, September 15th, 2014 .

Being sick is no fun for anyone. And when you are sick, one of the top things on your mind is how to get better as soon as possible. It isn’t surprising that having to wait to talk to a physician can be a frustrating experience, but ProHealth Care Medical Associates found that using Waitlist to give patients a better sense of their wait made patients and physicians happier.

prohealth image

 

ProHealth Care Medical Associates is an award-winning regional specialty and primary care system with services throughout Southeastern Wisconsin. As part of the ProHealth Care program, the system has an integrated network of closely aligned independent physicians. Services encompass nearly all aspects of health care and includes hospitals, medical clinics, home care and hospice, integrative medicine, well-being and fitness centers, and more.

The centers have eight urgent care facilities within a 25-mile radius and see patients on a walk-in basis, which means wait times to see doctors can take anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes.

“One of the things we were hearing from our patients is that they weren’t happy with our wait times,” said Kelly Tolson, Director of Operations at ProHealth Care. “During cold and flu season, it can be anywhere from a 90 minute to two hour wait. Two hours is unacceptable.”

Tolson and ProHealth site leader, Maureen Sensiba, were looking for a way to make wait times easier to manage for patients, when they were approached by a patient who had seen the NoshList wait list app in use at a local restaurant.

“One of our patients had been added to a waitlist and notified when their table was ready at a Red Robin restaurant, and she said it was an awesome feature,” Sensiba said. “She raved about it. So afterward, I did some research on my own and contacted NoshList to see how we could make it work for our situation.”

The customer was specifically pleased with how the wait list app gave her the ability to shop while she waited for her table at Red Robin. That also caught the attention of Tolson and Sensiba, since it would be nice for patients to not have to be constrained to the waiting area.

Before getting started, the app had to be shown to the company’s patient experience officer and corporate compliance officer attorney to ensure the app wasn’t in violation of any patient privacy issues. Because the app only shows patient initials, it does not violate HIPPA rules or any other privacy rule, and Tolson was given the ability to then launch the app at the Medical Associates Brookfield, Wisc. location.

“Brookfield was a great place to start because it’s a small community. People could go home, have lunch or run errands while they waited to be seen by a doctor and get back in a short amount of time,” Tolson said. “It has worked so well that we have expanded it to another location and have plans to roll it out to the remaining six within the next six months.”

How it works

When ProHealth first started using NoshList, it was more popularly used as an iPad app, so they had to be a little creative in getting to fit their needs for an urgent care waitlist from a computer. Tolson and Sensiba realized that they could customize the public waitlist web page and the Add Yourself feature that restaurants normally use to allow diners to add themselves to a list, and they adapted this functionality for their staff to enter the information.

The patient names are put into a computer once they arrive at the center, and they can check their place in line from a phone or computer. When other patients look at the waitlist to determine where they are in line, only the patients’ initials are visible. Then when it is a patient’s turn, the ProHealth staff uses the regular waitlist view to trigger the text and call notifications and remove people from the list.

Since that time, NoshList has added the ability to do everything in one place in the browser, and early adopters like ProHealth Care that started using the system in new ways and sending feedback helped drive these product improvements.

“It was very smart how Tolson and Sensiba figured out how to use the NoshList public waitlist page, which was designed for other purposes, to serve as a simple entry form that could be used by multiple people on computers,” said NoshList CEO, Craig Walker. “We were all very impressed at NoshList, and have been building more and more improvements into our service to make it better for cases like these and for solving the wait problem everywhere.“

While the facility operators have yet to determine how the app has impacted wait times, customers appear to be happy with the solution.

“I don’t know if their wait times have decreased, but patients are more satisfied because we are being more respectful of their time,” Sensiba said. “We know they have other things they could be doing and we’re giving them an opportunity to do those things if there is a long wait.”

The physicians also are happier.

“We expected the patients would appreciate the new waitlist options, but we didn’t anticipate that the physicians would also be happier, because the patients are happier when they get into the room,” Tolson said. “That has been a very nice surprise.”

Monday, September 8th, 2014 .

Waiting is never fun wherever you are. NoshList started as an app to help restaurants manage their waitlists and send text and phone notifications to guests when their tables were ready, and is now used by many types of businesses to improve the customer experience whenever there are waits. Here is a great example of a smart business owner at Kumon that uses NoshList not only to to shorten wait times for students ready to be picked up, but also to improve child safety, performance excellence, and business efficiencies.

Kumon_15841

 

Kumon® Learning Centers have an after-school academic enrichment program designed to help children achieve more than they ever thought they could. The centers strive to teach self-learning and achievement in the academic areas of reading and math through an enrichment program that outlines steady goals for each student.

Most students spend 30-60 minutes during their individual sessions and are required to attend sessions two times a week.

“The philosophy of Kumon is to build mastery of the subject. Each subject is divided into a series of levels and each level is focused on a learning fundamental built on top of the previous ones,” said Krishnadas Kootale who partners with his wife Geeta Krishnadas as Kumon Franchise operators for the Kumon Denville – South Center in New Jersey. “Because this is a long-term program, we try to make it sustainable over the long haul.”

Each child is required to do homework and each one is given the time and patience needed to build greater mental stamina and focus. The goal, Kootale said, is to help the child build a strong foundation of knowledge and learning skills that they can carry with them throughout their academic career and beyond.

While the program is taught in a safe environment, Geeta and Kootale were a little concerned with what happens sometimes after class. While parents are required to pick up the children from the waiting area and children required to wait in the reception area until their parents arrive once a session is complete, sometimes students would leave the premises into the parking lot looking for their parents.

Since the location was near a state highway, the couple wanted to take extra steps to ensure the safety of their students. “Whenever you have kids, parking lots and roads nearby there are always safety concerns,” Kootale said. “We didn’t want the children to move around unattended.”

While thinking about solutions for the waiting children, Kootale discovered how NoshList was used by restaurants to manage their waitlists. He was able to easily check out the app, and realized it was a perfect fit for his needs.

Now, when a student checks into the Kootale’s learning center, the parent’s contact information entered into the NoshList waitlist. At that point an alert goes out to the parent providing an estimated time to session completion. This eliminates the guesswork involved for parents who may be looking to run an errand or so while their children are in class. Once a student’s session is complete, Noshlist sends a message to the parent’s phone alerting that the child is ready for pick up. Once the parent arrives at Kumon, they enter into a classroom to check out their child and then leave together.

“The primary reason we considered NoshList was to set up a check-in check out system with parent alerts to avoid children moving unattended, which was not something we wanted,” Kootale said. “Parents like the flexibility of being able to leave during their child’s session and then be alerted when the session is completed; and with Noshlist we have such a system helping us ensure that parents drop off and pick up children at the reception area.”

While using NoshList, Kootale realized there were other benefits he hadn’t originally expected. With the analytics features, they are able to track each student’s time used in the center. They then cross reference the student’s study time against their performance, which helps them improve the educational experience for that child.

“At any time, we have the live list of the students in class. Anyone who takes longer on their studies, or who finishes sooner, we have that information in real time. We use that information for class review and plan management,” Kootale said. “This real-time information is quite valuable to us.”

“It’s really a great app!” Kootale said.

 

– By Valerie Killifer, special to NoshList