What is the worst part of waiting? Knowing that what you came for will take 5 minutes but you end up waiting for 30 minutes instead. Sometimes just buying a bottle of water from Tesco consumes 15 minutes of your life. The life experiences which I have shared below will walk you through the pains and gains of ‘waiting’, a phenomena which everyone of us looks to avoid.
“A few months back, on February 10th to be precise, my daughter was born after nine months and 5 days of “waiting”. Along with fantastic feelings, a new experience had started in my life, the Baby Shop visits…One Friday afternoon, together with my wife and daughter, we made a visit to one of the famous retail chain stores to buy a baby swing. As we entered the shop, I noticed a queue of around 15 people standing in line to be served from 4 counters. Each person was having a trolley filled with a bunch of baby products and if it would have not been for my wife, someone I cannot argue with, I would have just walked away as the waiting seemed to take too long and my anxiety had already reached its limit…We then chose the product and stood in the queue waiting for our turn…To my surprise, the queue was moving very fast and we ended up checking out in around 10 minutes, making the whole experience not as bad as I had initially thought, but certainly not the best of my life….yet, it kept me thinking, would I had have the same level of anxiety if I would have known the “waiting time” in advance? What if the branch manager would have opened on real time an extra counter to speed up the queue?…..My company designs and sells Electronic Queue Management Systems and on hundreds of occasions I have preached its advantages, but this time they appeared to me as they do to an End User and the impact was very powerful.
We live in a world where technology, among other things, has dramatically changed the good habit of patience…While the water for coffee boils, I spend the time reading some news or an email on my phone, otherwise my time is wasted and I even get nervous if the page takes more than 5 seconds to load!!!! And that is, to certain extent, OK. But what happens when the waiting time reaches 45 minutes???
I was recently telling to a senior colleague that I am getting old at a young age…Due to a lack of physical activities, I happen to face some sort of swelling in my knee for which I had to visit the clinic a few weeks ago. I made the appointment by phone and as I had visited the clinic before, I got a confirmation by SMS with the date and time, without even saying to the operator my name or phone, brilliant experience!!!…On the day of the appointment, I reached the clinic 5 minutes earlier and checked in at the reception. Being a private clinic, I was not worried about the waiting time as usually their service is very personalized and fast. I spent the first 10 minutes of my ‘waiting’ by replying to a few emails but my name was not called by the nurses…The next 20 minutes I spent reading some news and some LinkedIn updates….still, my name had not been called…Anxiety started kicking in again, so I approached the reception and found out that my file hadn’t been entered in their system and hence my ‘waiting’ had not even started…I wouldn’t say that this situation made my hair stand on ends, but I did get quite angry and annoyed. When I finally entered the doctors room 15 minutes later, she explained to me that their system cannot tell for how long I had to wait as it depends on the receptionist entering my details on the system and “human mistakes happen”…After realizing my level of dissatisfaction, the Doctor suggested me to go to the first floor, search for room # 20, and see if the operations manager was available to expose my situation!!!!! Are you serious?…Was there not an easier mechanism to express my frustration? Could there have been any other way to avoid this “human mistake” that ended in me waiting for 45 minutes without a clue that I was not on the system? Will the hospital management ever find out?
I am big fan of going to the movies and pretty much every week I used to end up in line to buy the tickets of the last releases, this of course being before my daughter was born…A few years back, the online booking system appeared and Self Service Kiosks started to issue the tickets and hence “waiting” time was considerably reduced. However, as much of a fanatic I am for movies & cinemas, I never feel complete without having Pop corns and M&Ms to keep me company, especially the ones that they sell in movie theaters. It seems that I just can’t enjoy a movie if I am not annoying people next to me with the noise of my Pop-Corn. Therefore, and until they install effective Self Service machines for HotDogs, Pop-Corns, Soft Drinks and M&Ms, I still have to queue up for it. Queues in these situations happen to be more stressful than normal as usually you arrive just when the movie is about to start and as you wait in line you can see the cinema hall number flashing on a big screen alarming you that the show has already started. Although there are different ways of organizing these kinds of queues, I never realized before that the cinemas’ strategy to reduce the stress of waiting is to use large LCDs that would show the promotions and products available and entertain you with the latest movies trailers. The former, in some cases, dramatically reduces the time due to deciding what you want before reaching the counter. But what if people could chose and pay from their mobile phones and collect it from a dedicated counter?
As a final story, I recently attended to a workshop from Dubai Chamber of Commerce about Business Excellence. They basically exposed best practices of companies that follow certain steps to make their companies outperform as compared to their competitors. One of the presenters was the Head of Quality & CSR from the Strategic Planning Department of Commercial Bank of Dubai. He talked about several processes and Key Performance Indicators that the bank had been implementing for the past few years. When talking about the Customer Perspective, the most important approach in their strategy map, I was amazed to find out that average Waiting Time was one of the most important KPIs to measure the customer satisfaction, and on top of this, the Group CEO was always asking for this KPI…Moreover, when it came to the Question & Answer session, the delegates pretty much asked only about this part of the speech, “measuring the customer satisfaction”, whether it is by looking at the waiting & service time or directly at the customer feedbacks!!!!! I once again kept me thinking, do I happen to know any technology to help them measure these KPIs that appears as one of the key elements of any bank’s strategy?
These four stories are some of the many examples where the Customer Service & Shop Experiences are beyond just Queuing. Being entertained, informed and having the chance to express your positive or negative feelings can all be as important for an individual’s experience as having an organized queue. And all of it together brings organizations closer to an outstanding Customer Service & Shop Experience, resulting inevitably in sustainable and profitable growth.”