Waiting in line is something that most people genuinely dislike, if not despise. When you consider that the average American spends 2 years waiting in line and you think about the measures some people take to avoid waiting, productive queue strategies are imperative.
It’s even been said that “waiting time is the single most important factor in customer satisfaction,” according to Paco Underhill, author of Why We Buy. As a business that manages a customer queue, minimizing wait time is an obvious goal. But if a customer must wait, why not make it great?
An expert on waiting psychology, David Maister says, “occupied time feels shorter than unoccupied time.” Research shows that by providing distractions, preferably something that benefits or entertains them, customers not only have a more pleasant experience, but the wait time can actually feel shorter than it actually is. This altered perception shapes a customer’s experience well beyond the time they spend in line. If a customer finds delight as he or she is waiting, that can create a long-term positive association to the business as a whole.
The window of opportunity is incredibly small to keep lines moving efficiently enough to keep every single person in them satisfied. Here are some strategies to consider that could provide a positive, engaging experience for your customers waiting to check out:
If your transaction requires something up front from your customer, have them do their part while they are waiting. Clearly publish the details of what is required and empower customers to do their part to ‘help you help them’ move through faster. Even if the wait time is the same, once the process begins, the progress feels productive. This could include the simple role of watching for a call-forward signal.
Known wait times feel shorter than unknown waits, says queuing expert David Maister. Give your customers an estimated wait time at the start of the check-out queue to set the stage for a far more patient customer encounter.
Place products that provide a multi-sensory experience and show you understand your customers. Last minute purchases need to speak to customers’ needs as well as evoke feelings of pleasure – appeal to sight, sound, taste, smell or touch. With this simple step you can truly transform your customer’s waiting experience into a pleasurable one by keeping customers occupied and engaged while they wait.
In-queue marketing via digital displays and signage can reduce perceived wait times by nearly 40%. In addition, digital marketing paired with strategic product placement within the queue can increase impulse sales at the checkout by as much as 400%. It’s a win-win for customers and your business.
Customers are always going to want to wait less. But if waiting is a fact of life, it pays for you to make it as enjoyable and stress-free as possible. Use these tips to get started and follow our blog for even more ideas.