How a Lack of Explanation Hurts Your Customer Retention Rate

How a Lack of Explanation Hurts Your Customer Retention Rate

Last updated: November 21, 2013Perry Kuklin

When it comes to customer waiting lines, some businesses operate on the belief that customers are on a need-to-know basis and that they absolutely do not need to know why their wait is so long. This methodology can do far more harm than good. In fact, lack of an explanation about the wait can actually hurt your customer retention rate. Think about it: A computer may be on the fritz, but a customer who doesn’t know this could simply assume that your service agent is incredibly slow, poorly trained, or that your business just doesn’t care about its customers. And we’ve all seen the visible irritation and downright rudeness that can ensue. In some cases, customers will take matters into their own hands and renege on a purchase, leave your business, and never come back again.

Unexplained waits feel longer than explained waits

One of the basic tenets of queuing is that unexplained waits are longer than explained waits. When people have time to think about what’s taking so long, they’ll come up with their own explanations, which are, in all likelihood, inaccurate, and probably not flattering to your business. When a business fails to explain the wait, customers are more likely to be dissatisfied with the customer service experience. The lack of an explanation is one of the prime factors adding to a customer’s uncertainty about the length of the wait. They’re already feeling frustrated with having to wait at all – but waiting in ignorance creates an even greater feeling of restlessness. It’s not the customer’s job to know why the wait is what it is – it’s a business’s responsibility to inform customers of what’s happening and why their time is being spent waiting instead of in action. Simply enough, if you’re making people wait, let them know why. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways. You could send an employee to mingle among the queue, passing the word that there has been a technical glitch, that they’re unexpectedly understaffed, whatever the case may be. If you’ve already equipped your queues with digital displays, use them to your advantage to distribute service messages: “We apologize for the wait – we are working to resolve an unexpected technical issue.” It may seem like customers needn’t be privy to the inner workings of your business and, to a point, they don’t need to be. But the more detailed you can be about what’s holding up the queue, the more accepting and understanding a customer will be. It will also not be lost on customers that you appreciated their precious time enough to give them enough information to allow them to choose whether or not to stay in line or come back at a later date.

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