Why Patience is a Virtue, but Waiting is Intolerable

September 23, 2014Perry Kuklin

We're taught to be patient. From a young age, we are harped on to wait patiently and to be patient with others. Meanwhile, as we grow into busy adults, our lifestyles require super-efficiency in everything that we do, from the workplace to our home life. Instant gratification is expected and easy to come by, leaving many to believe waiting is something we should never have to face. As a retailer, grocer, or service provider, how do you help your customers get past the negative side of waiting and bring out the patience we were all taught to exude? It really is possible to make the wait more tolerable with these simple suggestions:

1. Explain why the wait is happening

What is causing your extra-long waiting line today? Unforeseen circumstances? A seasonal sale? An unexpected shortage of staff? Let your customers know why they have to spend time waiting. If they understand that there was a glitch in the POS system or an overwhelmingly large response to your latest product release, they will be more tolerant of the wait. They may not be thrilled, but at least more willing to accept the situation.

2. Explain what your business is doing to alleviate the wait

Are you opening additional registers? Increasing customer service personnel? Sending agents out into the line to get transactions started sooner? Let your customers see that you are proactively trying to get them through your waiting line as quickly as possible. Your actions clearly demonstrate your customers’ time is important and that you appreciate them spending it with your business.

3. Explain how long your customers should expect to be waiting

Nothing makes a wait feel more intolerable than not knowing how long you could actually be standing there. Mitigate annoyance and frustration by providing estimated wait times to all customers, managing their expectations. It has been shown that a known five minute wait will be substantially more tolerable than an unknown three minute wait.

4. How can you communicate the Why, What, and How to your customers?

In person

Have an associate walk the line and talk to your waiting customers as a way to help instill patience. Hearing updates from a live person often adds comfort to the situation because people feel like the company cares enough to talk to them face-to-face. This is also a way to boost your customers’ confidence in you and the belief that you are doing everything you can to make the checkout or customer service process go as smoothly as possible.

texting

Via technology

Today’s mobile technology allows for multiple ways to communicate with customers. Think text message and mobile app alerts. These updates customers receive through their handheld devices are efficient and convenient for both the business and the customers.

Via in-line signage

Utilizing signage in your waiting line is often the most cost-effective and versatile way to communicate with your customers. Traditional signage has its place in your waiting line, but digital signage will take your queue to the next level. You will be able to broadcast your waiting line updates in real time and display multiple messages on one screen providing customers with all the information they need to feel patient and confident in your business. As a bonus, integrate advertisements and valuable product information into your digital signage to boost product awareness and facilitate impulse sales. Imagine a world where we were all easy-going the majority, if not all, of the time. While wonderful, that scenario is not always the reality. We have tempers and emotions that sometimes bubble to the surface taking over our virtue of patience. Which of these ideas will you implement to help your customers remain calm, tolerant, and perhaps even happy while waiting in your line?

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