Published on June 30th, 2022
Fairness is a crucial part of the customer experience. Maintaining a sense of equality is essential to a lasting, strong relationship between you and your customers.
The care, efficiency and thoughtfulness that you invest in customer interactions leaves a significant mark – and is often more important than the product or service itself.
In fact, the top reason for customers switching brands is simply because they feel unappreciated.
This importance remains even when a site is brought down. With how interconnected the modern consumer is, it’s never been easier for customers to sense when they’re being unfairly omitted.
When a site goes down, the frustration felt by you and your customers can be further stoked by a patchy service that unwittingly prioritizes bots and queue-skippers.
This is where a high-quality website waiting room can prioritize your customers, even when demand is outstripping your resources.
Site Stumbles: They Happen to Everyone
Particularly if you conduct most business over your site, it’s almost incomprehensible that your site can just stop working. Even worse, some business owners just assume that a rapid increase in site traffic is a purely positive thing.
The unfortunate reality is that online customers do not wait around. If they don’t click with your site within a second of looking at it, they will often click away.
A site going down may seem like a deathblow, but it’s possible to reduce site abandonment by acknowledging the issue and reassuring the customer that they will be served in due course.
The technical reason for a site becoming unavailable after a sudden influx of users (commonly called a ‘hug of death’) is simply your website’s server running out of resources.
Every single user takes a small portion of the memory and processing power supplied by this server: a traditional server will have a hard limit on its capabilities, meaning that even 1 extra user threatens the integrity of the whole site.
Recognizing that user influxes happen can prevent your entire site from going down. This is achieved by setting up a waiting room.
Once a threshold is set for the number of incoming visitors, any later visitor is directed to a virtual spot to wait at. This is handled on a fair, first-come, first-serve basis.
The Benefits of a Website Waiting Room
When a site crashes, there are a few contributing factors to your users abandoning ship. A lack of transparency on the cause, and an overabundance of error messages, simply tells the user that they are not going to find what they’re looking for. Your competitors will be more than willing to pick up any extra slack, and this can snowball to a large loss.
A website waiting room promises that your user will still be able to access your site, as long as they wait. Though this sounds concerning – after all, nobody enjoys waiting – the underlying context of user surges show that waiting rooms can retain users.
Think about what could cause a user surge: maybe a massive new product drop; ticket, time-sensitive or limited releases; even going viral on social media.
Furthermore, because a waiting room protects your site’s integrity, you completely eliminate the stressful and frustrating process of diagnosing and fixing downtime.
When your website is totally out for the count, users attempting to connect will be bombarded with error messages. These can reflect badly on your brand, sending the message that your site is mis-managed.
Conversely, a waiting room actively supports customer experience, at a time when it is needed more than ever.
Transparent wait times help to reassure the customer that they will get their turn, and when they are eventually let into the site, the customisable visitor threshold allows you to guarantee a comfortable user experience throughout the site.
Virtual queue skipping
Nobody likes queue skippers. They completely undermine the point of waiting in a queue. Even worse, once one person or bot starts queue skipping, everyone is sure to follow suit. Unfortunately, queue skipping is just as prevalent online as it is IRL.
Skipping is achievable through a few means. One of the most common queue-skips applies to the waiting room architecture of the main site simply redirecting the user to a website.
This is how the leading waiting room solution Queue-IT works. Tech-savvy users can simply opt out of the queue by opening up Web Inspector and blocking the redirected site’s request URL.
Now, they get to access the site long before legitimate users can. (If, of course, they don’t crash the site in the first place).
Other forms of queue-skipping take the form of a user simply placing a bot in their stead. This way, the user can go off and do their own thing while the bot keeps their spot.
Both of these issues can be prevented with a high-quality virtual waiting room solution. Server-side skip and bot prevention mechanisms are paramount for products with high resale value, such as concert tickets.
But there are further client-side solutions, too. For example, you could protect the main site from queue-skippers by having a blank page redirect users to the queue. This way, even if users disable redirection, they still cannot interact with your site.
How a Waiting Room Makes You More Secure
Bots can wreak havoc on your site. The bad bots – such as the huge influx of bots operating under a DDoS attack, or even just individual queue-skip bots – are of paramount importance to keep out.
Waiting room can help you stem the flow of a targeted attack by validating each user. Just like an airport’s security checks, a waiting room solution has mechanisms in place to check the validity of a user.
The basic form of this is a CAPTCHA; other solutions entail a queue number, where each validated visitor has a unique identifier. Prevent bot scalpers by offloading early visitors to a countdown page, too.
This way, all early visitors are randomized before assigning a spot in line. This neutralizes the advantage that bots grab by arriving milliseconds before your sale begins.
Providing a fair user experience means that you can prioritize the real people on the other end of the DNS request.
From protecting your site from malicious attacks – to defending your true customers from scalpers – waiting rooms are a necessary part of modern ecommerce.
Feature Image: flickr.com