The Negative Effects of Long Queues
When customers wait for a grudgingly long time they may check out, but there are great chances that they will never return to your store.
First impressions matter: one bad experience can scare away a customer forever.
After all, research has shown that people are wired to remember negative experiences over positive ones. It might even be an evolutionary advantage, but it’s certainly not an advantage for business.
This means that bad queues stick to our minds like glue and ultimately inform the perceived waiting time customer satisfaction. As Dr. Queue himself, MIT researcher Richard Larson, says:
“Often the psychology of queuing is more important than the statistics of the wait itself.”
What happens when businesses can’t figure out how to reduce customer waiting time?
In one survey, businesses reported that they lost 75% of customers due to waiting times.
We are now a society that wants instant gratification, or at least gratification with the least amount of waiting possible. That means utilizing the best way to reduce waiting time.
The point being quite simple, but with huge ramifications: long waiting times cost your business sales. So, it’s paramount to understand the psychology of queueing.
Thanks to substantial research in queueing theory over the last three decades, we can determine how people behave when lines are too long. Nearly 50% of customers find waiting in line not just annoying but highly irritating. And feeling irritated leads customers to behave in distinct ways. Ways that make your bottom line shrink up.
So, let’s take a look at three behaviors customers that exemplify what happens while waiting in long lines.
1. Jumping From Line to Line
Trying to secure the best line in the store is called “jockeying.” This behavior can only occur in stores that stick to that aforementioned model of multiple lanes. A model that fails to reduce customer waiting time.
2. “I’m Not Waiting in That Line!”
When customers look at a line and decide the better strategy is to leave their items on the nearest the shelf, they’re balking. Waiting is judged as not being worth their time.
3. Frustrated Enough to Leave
Perhaps the worst behaviour businesses face with long lines is reneging. This is when customers have waited to make a purchase, but leave the line because they become frustrated.