3 Tips to Prevent Tempers from Igniting in Your Waiting Line

July 02, 2015Perry Kuklin

Fireworks are made to be ignited on the Fourth of July. But in the busy summer months, where weary travelers line the security gates at airports, customers wait in the zig-zagging lines of amusement parks and movie theaters, and shoppers clamor for the last of the ripe avocados for their summer picnics, the last thing you want is for tempers to ignite in your queue. We’ve all experienced that torturous waiting line where we stand surrounded by hot, tired, and grumpy travelers, shoppers, or park-goers whose tempers flair at the sight of a long line. Even though some lines cannot be prevented, it’s amazing what good management of customers’ expectations, staffing, and queues can do to temper ill feelings. Here are 3 of our top tips to keep things calm in your waiting line:

1. Communicate, communicate, communicate!

We can’t say it enough. When customers are given a reasonable explanation as to why the wait is longer than usual – and if they’re provided information on how long they can expect to be in line – the communication does wonders to keep the mood content. David Maister, the well-known expert on queuing, says unexplained waits feel longer than explained waits. He uses the example of waiting in a doctor’s office. When the patient is told the reason for the wait, such as an emergency the doctor is dealing with, there is a greater level of understanding and willingness to wait.

2. Remove the anxiety of “choosing the right line.”

In his work, Maister refers to what is known as Erma Bombeck’s Law: “The other line always moves faster.” We’ve all experienced that feeling of choosing among several different lines only to discover that the line you didn’t choose is moving faster than the one you’re in. This feeling of anxiety and disappointment can easily cause tempers to rise. You can help prevent this anxiety by ensuring a “first come, first served” approach to waiting. Either through a single-line queue or a virtual queuing system, customers can rest assured that even though the wait will be efficient and fair.

3. Keep them engaged.

Occupied waiting time feels shorter than unoccupied time, according to Maister. So, instead of making people wait with nothing to do, amusement parks can place entertainment in the queue and airports can begin to prepare people for screening so that once they reach the front of the line the service goes faster. To keep waiting customers engaged, retailers can incorporate merchandise into the queue or send associates into the line to begin “ringing up” items via a mobile POS system. Get creative and keep those customers’ minds off the wait. This July 4th weekend, enjoy the fireworks in the sky – not in your queues – and have confidence that these tips will keep your customers’ tempers cool in the months ahead. Have questions about how to improve your waiting line for greater customer satisfaction? Talk to a Lavi expert.

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