Today I’d like to discuss with all of you something I am sure we can all agree on: waiting in a line as a consumer sucks. When we go to a store or restaurant, one of the biggest mood killers can be seeing a line that extends past the door, or worse, being stuck in a waiting area for what seems like an eternity. For me, this is especially irritating since my consumer profile is that of someone who knows what they want and purchases in the least amount of time possible. When I get groceries and have to wait in line for 20 minutes I leave with a feeling of agitation. As we discussed in class, there are many different channels that describe wait lines. Regardless of the channel, waiting in line is irritating. Since some entities operate under a preemptive discipline rule, which can be equally as frustrating, management techniques need to be assessed in order to better your operations.
So, in discussing the processes involving managing wait times, I found an article put out by a company whose sole purpose is to increase customer satisfaction by way of managing queues and efficiency. The company, Qminder, is based in the UK and offers a solution to the frustrations faced by both consumers and managers. Qminder discusses four ways to reduce wait time, which is one of the most prevalent issues plaguing managers in the realm of consumer satisfaction. Qminder states that wait time is the most important metric when talking about the efficiency of a queue. There is a psychological aspect of waiting in a queue that can further frustrate customers. A disparity between the actual wait time and the wait time perceived by customers creates frustration and restlessness. So, what can be done to solve this? Here are Qminder’s methods for doing so:
Essentially, customers do not particularly enjoy being stuck waiting and not knowing the answer as to why there are doing so. A lack of information here can agitate a waiting customer. By being transparent about the issue, you can appeal to your customer since they know the reasons behind their delay.
Give Them Something to Do
Qminder likens this method to “the Disney Way.” Disney does a good job of keeping park goers engaged at most of their touchpoints. According to the article, “the biggest source of frustration when standing in a queue is inactivity.” A customer may feel like they are wasting their time. If you give the customer something to do while they wait, you may very well appease them.
Keep it Fair
It is imperative to keep your customer queues fair and even. There is nothing more frustrating as a waiting customer than when someone who has been there for a shorter period of time is serviced before you. Utilizing rules such as “first in, first out” or “last in, first out” can drastically improve your waiting structure.
Lastly, Make the Experience Enjoyable
Whether this is done by way of actually entertaining customers, being genuine, or providing customers with agency and control, if you make the experience an enjoyable one wait times become more manageable. You can see the article at this link to dive more into methods for reducing wait times.
I’d like to also discuss another area that we can all relate to: airport security lines. What else is a better fit for the stereotypical frustration filled example of waiting lines? Here is an area where managers could certainly improve in order to satisfy travelers. One unique way this may be done is through use of biometric measures.
A company called Clear is working towards utilizing biometrics to speed up the security process at airports and other locations where wait times are an issue. Patrons could simply enroll in the machine at check-in, and then re-scan after the initial screening from TSA. This service is already being implemented by airports and sporting venues. I encourage you to read more about Clear at these links:
Though this is not applicable to all business models, this is something that may be looked at in future to further reduce the wait times that plague us all as consumers. Since wait times are a huge issue in management practices, working to reduce them will benefit both consumers and managers.