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The Psychology Behind Waiting in Lines


How Do Your Customers Feel About Waiting In Line?

We’ve all been stuck in that dreaded checkout line that never seems to move. You wait, and wait, and then wait some more and before you know it, you’ve waited longer in line than it took you to shop for the stuff inside the store. What matters more to customers who are queued into a line is their experiences they have while waiting to receive service. Are they just standing there in a row with nothing to do? Or is there some sort of entertainment option that can help to occupy their time as they wait for their turn?

Occupied Time Goes By Quicker Than Unoccupied Time

If you compared two customers waiting in line for a cashier to help them and both waited for five minutes, the person who had something to do would be less aware of how much time has passed than the person who was stuck with nothing to do. There are four great ways to be able to help customers fill time as they are waiting:

• you can entertain them in some way.
• you can let them keep shopping for things.
• you can let them wander your store with a reserved place in line.
• you can get them started with the process they must complete.

People want to get started because let’s face it, everyone believes their time is a valuable commodity. Whether it is looking at a menu or loading stuff up on a conveyor belt for the cashier, when a queued customer feels like they are using their time wisely, they’ll be less likely to come away with a negative experience.

The Other Line Always Seems To Move Faster

Thanks to the modern lifestyle, people are moving faster than ever these days. Everyone rushes to and fro to get as much stuff done as possible and it never seems like everything that should get done can get done. When people are stuck waiting in line, the realization sets in that they can’t get more stuff done at that very moment. This creates anxiety: “Will I be able to make it to soccer practice on time now?” Anxiety makes time move by even more slowly. This creates more anxiety and suddenly the customer is caught in a downward spiral.

Known Wait Times Are Easier To Manage

Once someone needs to wait for more than 3 minutes for something, the amount of time that passes seems to multiply with each passing moment. This is even worse for those who don’t know how long they must wait to receive the service they need. If there is a way to inform people about their wait time as they are queuing up in line, like when a hostess tells someone at a restaurant they’ll have a table in about 20 minutes, waiting is a lot easier for people to do.

Could Your Queue Be Costing You Business?

People get frustrated with long lines. Many eventually just leave rather than deal with the line. If you can create a system of fairness that informs people of how long they’ll need to wait, you won’t make customers feel demoralized and worthless. This will then help your overall buying experience!

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