What We Can Learn from the Queue at Wimbledon

June 11, 2013Perry Kuklin

Some might say the British are generally more polite and well-behaved than us noisy, rude Americans (unless you take into account the UK’s infamous soccer hooligans). But when it comes to the sophisticated event of Wimbledon, it’s still necessary to ask for decorum, and that expectation is firmly enforced. Seats at Wimbledon are coveted, but lucky for the lollygaggers, poor planners, or spontaneous among the crowds, this is one of the few major sporting events in the UK where premium tickets are still available the day of play. But there is only one queue for the day-of ticket sales. And the Wimbledon folks make no bones about what’s expected of potential guests in a queue – in fact, they go so far as to outline the best time to line up and post a non-negotiable code of conduct for queuing (e.g., no queue jumping, no saving spots for other people, and settle down with the music off by 10 p.m. if you’re camping out overnight).

“The Queue”

The Wimbledon day-of-play queue is a time-honored and treasured tradition.

This list of rules might sound ridiculous and tedious to some line-haters, but the Wimbledon day-of-play queue is a time-honored and treasured tradition (not to mention following all the rules ensures the safety of all involved). Fans of the sport and the famed event look forward to being part of The Queue – yes, it even has its own name – and to lining up with thousands of other hopefuls. Waiting in line at Wimbledon is an “experience” and the demand for good behavior and respectfulness of the process and the environment brings a certain cache to the event. As the Wimbledon queue proves, waiting lines present an opportunity to create a memorable customer experience. Your business doesn’t have to be of Wimbledon size or caliber to make such a moment possible. You can take some notes from Wimbledon, however, to enhance the mood and flow of your queue:

  • There are clear signs directing people to The Queue. Nothing puts people at ease like knowing where to go without having to ask for help.
  • When people officially enter The Queue, they’re given a card with a unique number on it signifying their status as an official member of The Queue. Who’s important now, eh?
  • BBC commentary on the tennis matches is piped through a system of loudspeakers for the benefit of those in The Queue. Distraction makes any wait much less painful.
  • Smiling Wimbledon officials wearing the All-England Club regalia greet, inform, and encourage people in The Queue from the moment they enter the line until they reach the grounds. They’re friendly, they tell you how long you can expect to queue, and they let you know if you even have a shot of getting in before the end of play that day given your place in line. (The Wimbledon stewards even begin waking up campers at 6 a.m. to clean up and queue up – no alarm clock necessary!) Information and a friendly face can make a long, long wait into a genuinely pleasurable experience.

Your business doesn’t have to be as fancy as The Queue at Wimbledon, but queuing in general does offer a tremendous opportunity to create a worthwhile and happy customer experience for your customers. Whether you station a greeter at every line, do everything you can to make the queue as short and sweet as possible, or provide in-line entertainment through merchandising or videos, there are opportunities to stand out from the pack and give your biz the reputation of a Grand Slam. Need help planning your approach? Talk to a Lavi expert.

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