How Your Customer’s Waiting Experience Can Make or Break Brand Association

How Your Customer’s Waiting Experience Can Make or Break Brand Association

Last updated: May 10, 2016Perry Kuklin

When customers wait in line for your products or services, their experience is meaningful. Within a few minutes, customers form entire opinions about your business, essentially defining their perception of your company and brand. The quality and duration of time spent waiting signals customers about the efficiency of your operation as well as the level of respect and concern you have for them. Hopefully, it’s good.

Even with a wait, your customers can come away from the experience having positive feelings about your brand, your products or services, and your company overall. This positivity can even roll into referrals and brand loyalty over time. If the wait is frustrating, however, the experience can negatively color a customer’s view permanently or even have them turn to a competitor, which can be irreparable.

Don’t let them hate the wait, make it great.

Below are three big ways your queue can help make a positive brand association:

1. Avoid Confusion or Disorganization


A confused mind won’t buy. If it’s unclear how a purchase process works, whether virtual or in person, a sale can be hard to close. Consumers are bombarded with decisions every day, more than 35,000 for the average adult in America. So adding any more complexity or confusion adds stress.

This stress can subconsciously become the association your customer has with your brand. Conversely, if your flow is clear, if it sparks interest or delight during the wait and is complemented with caring connection, customers will come away positively impacted. If your queue experience is a positive one, a customer can even feel nurtured and the association can contribute to a loyal relationship.

Create a Clear Flow


Where does the queue begin?
Where do I wait?
How does it flow?
What is open or not?
How do I know I’m next?

If these questions can be answered easily with clear directional signage, stanchions, etc. a customer can relax and his/her attention can flow to something else like enjoying in-queue entertainment, absorbing information, or checking out in-line merchandise. The ease can also carry into other associations with the company, reinforcing that this is an easy and enjoyable company to embrace. For more ideas check out our Quick Guide on Creating More Efficient Lines.

2. Avoid Long or Quickly Growing Queues


When lines are long or are clearly growing during a peak time, customers may avoid them altogether. After five minutes, a customer’s perceived wait time can be 2x the actual wait time. If the queue isn’t moving fast enough, customers are likely to abandon within 2 or 3 minutes. The consequences of inefficient queue management are clear – lost sales, negative word of mouth and overall a huge bottom line loss.

Design an Efficient Queue System


From the start, you can make a difference by designing your system with customer loyalty in mind. There are abundant technology solutions to support convenience and efficiency. From mobile integration, two-way texting, pre-scheduled appointments, and virtual queuing, you can cater to your customers in a way that can impress and engage. Speak their language. Tend to their interests and to the tools they are already using.

Be Highly Responsive


Open additional stations or add representatives as wait times increase. This level of responsiveness requires planning and enough resources to flex with demands. While this can be tricky to provide with precision, trend tracking and quality footfall analytics solutions can help.

If a line gets long quickly and you don’t have resources to move it faster, have a flexible routing system that you can expand and retract so the flow remains absolutely clear.

Keep waiting customers informed. Publish wait times, utilize visual call indicators to alert next customer, or even consider a virtual queuing system so customers could choose how to use their wait time.

3. Put customer service first.


Harvard Business Review declares “Customers are FED UP with lousy service.”

86% of customers that disengage do so because of poor customer service. Use your queue systems to tie your core values directly into customer care.

Connect With Customers


Make customer connections meaningful and reinforce brand core values. For example, provide eye contact/recognition of who is in the queue, so customers know they are seen and being taken care of as people, even VIPs.

Respect your customer’s time by instilling efficiency into your queue. And demonstrate that you know your customer through strategic product or information placement during the wait that will add value to their experience.

Consider your own customer-based core values and integrate them into your queue management system. The important things to convey to customers when they are waiting are: you’re important, we respect your time, our process is fair and efficient, and your needs will be met.

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