Wait online, not in line for Nevada County services | TheUnion.com
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Wait online, not in line for Nevada County services

John Orona
Staff Writer

Whether at the grocery store, bank, gas station, pharmacy or in fast food restaurants, waiting in lines is an ever-present part of American life, with one study estimating people spend more than 117 hours of their lives in lines.

Nevada County hopes to change that.

The Nevada County Community Development Agency is joining with the county’s Health and Human Services Agency to provide a virtual line management system, QLess, which aims to reduce wait times for services in those departments by allowing people to sign in to a virtual line on the web, via text or with an Android or iOS app.

The county has contracted with QLess to provide services for the Health and Human Services Agency since 2015, but in its new three-year, $36,450 contract decided to include the Community Development Agency after the agency saw an increase in traffic with customers requiring additional permitting and project review demands in the last year.

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“We are committed to improving the experience we offer at Nevada County (Community Development Agency,)” said Barbara McAllaster, administrative analyst, in a release. “Smart technology solutions like QLess are a huge benefit for our customers and our organization. By improving how customers experience wait times, we also provide a more productive and positive environment for our staff members.”

With the QLess app, people can sign in to lines for Health and Human Services programs at both the Brighton Greens Resource Center and Eric Rood Administrative Center. Services include those for veterans, Woman Infant and Children, child support and children’s behavioral health. People can also sign in for services like cannabis compliance, environmental health, code compliance and public works at the Eric Rood Administrative Center’s Community Development Agency.

QLess

The app uses historical customer data to estimate approximate wait times — providing information about how many people are currently in lines — and sends users a text, call or app notification as they approach their turn. However, the service starts with wait times manually input before it analyzes data to make it more precise, meaning the more people use it and the longer QLess is used by the county, the more accurate it will become. The program will also provide the county with reports and statistics to determine busiest times, customer return rates and no shows. The app provides the ability to add more time to the queue if people aren’t ready to take their turn, if they have not yet arrived to the lobby, for example.

“We are pleased to partner with Nevada County CDA, helping the organization take a major leap forward with its customer service,” founder and CEO of QLess Dr. Alex Bäcker said in a release. “We alleviate stress and improve the customer experience, and I’m proud that our software is being used in such a wonderful manner.”

County customers can also use the service by texting JOINCDA to 530-212-7471 or from their websitehttp://www.mynevadacounty.com/2886/Get-in-Line. Both agencies will also have kiosks for signing in their respective lobbies.

While virtual lines can allow customers to spend less time in lobbies, they do have their down sides. According to Cornel University researcher Jamol J. Pender, people often leave virtual lines without logging out from the app, making the line seem longer than it is and effectively discouraging others from signing up due to the inflated wait times. Pender suggests a system that could anticipate how many users will abandon their place in line would make systems more effective.

However, as Massachusetts Institute of Technology researcher Richard C. Larsen points out, even despite the inaccuracy, a shorter than anticipated wait time can lead to greater overall customer satisfaction.

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email jorona@theunion.com or call 530-477-4229.


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