It’s Not (Just) the Length of the Queue that Matters

September 30, 2014Perry Kuklin

We all know that waiting in a long line can be the necessary evil in our lives. We also know that the sight of a long line can be enough to send us in the opposite direction. That said, as queue managers, if we're solely focused on ridding our businesses of long lines, we’re missing a few other very important parts of the equation. Let’s not forget that, aside from the physical length of the queue, there are other key indicators of success. In particular:

How long people are kept waiting.

Waiting in Line

A single long line can move people along much faster than several shorter queues. A queue equipped with call-forward electronic queuing can also make a line more efficient. There are lots of ways to make the line move faster and even look like it's moving quickly as people arrive on the scene and decide to stay or go.

How long people FEEL like they've been kept waiting.

Keeping people occupied and entertained in the queue is better than fueling their frustration as they watch the minutes tick by. There are things you can do to make the wait feel less than it really is, like incorporating digital media into your queue or in-line merchandising.

What people are doing while they wait.

Are they having fun, continuing to shop, getting their transactions started? All of these things can make the wait feel shorter. Rather than leaving customers to fend for themselves, be the one to provide them with the distractions (in-line merchandising), communication (call numbers or lights), or attention (opening up more service points) they need to keep them satisfied while waiting.

How valuable the service is that they're waiting for.

The perceived value of what they’re waiting in line for really affects a person’s tolerance for a waiting line. (Can you say cronuts?) It follows then that when people are waiting for something that they feel has little value, or when they believe the valuable service is over, the wait can be unbearable.

How the queue is organized.

A line of 50 people standing around haphazardly is going to look less appealing than a well-structured queue. Create a well-organized, structured waiting line and your customers will automatically feel more confident in the idea that they’ll be taken care of if they choose to enter it. While it may seem that people are willing to wait just about any amount of time for a product or service if they really want it, it’s simply not the case. There are many ways for customers to shop today. Standing in your queue is just one. That’s why a well-organized and well-thought-out waiting line is essential.  

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