Ways to Improve Customers Waiting Experience

“Make every interaction count, even the small ones. They are all relevant.” – Shep Hyken

The important thing to know for any business is that customers hate to wait. Businesses must not only make consistent efforts to reduce actual waiting times, but also those that customers perceive as waiting times – the time that customers think they have waited to receive service or hear back from a company. These ‘perceived wait times’ affect how customers view a company – the longer the wait time, the greater the frustration and negativity. What enhances the frustration is if the customers waiting experience is negative, boring, and shabby. Conversely, if a company makes an effort to improve customers waiting experience, customers are more likely to forgive the company for the delay.

Smart companies know how to treat customers, and how to improve customers waiting experience. It is the onus of a company to make waiting times stress-free, less cumbersome, and if possible enjoyable. Many companies ensure that when their customers are waiting, the employees greet and interact with the customers, speak with customers to understand the nature / reason for their visit, if possible help them instantly, or else direct them towards the most appropriate person / team to solve their issue. In doing so, customers feel important and know that the company is making the effort to ease their problem and thinking of ways to improve customers waiting experience. Waiting becomes tolerable and even enjoyable for customers – making them more likely to stay with the company despite wait times.

It would be necessary for a company to ensure that several counters remain operational, speedy, and efficient. Long queues seem even more burdensome and frustrating if customers perceive that the company / employees are making no effort to help customers, and do not have a sense of urgency to keep things moving at a fast pace. Employees must avoid idle conversations with each other, and the company must ensure that only well-trained, knowledgeable, and efficient employees manage the counters. This is in addition to the point mentioned above – there should be employees taking time to interact with waiting customers, keeping them occupied and paying attention to their needs. The fact is that perceptions are real – hence even if two employees may be talking to each other regarding ways to help customers speedily, customers would see it as two employees wasting time instead of helping them. It becomes imperative therefore, to ensure that the queues keep moving and efforts made to improve the customers waiting experience.

Several things can be done to improve customers waiting experience. Keeping them engaged in any kind of activity, circulating forms that they may need to fill, employees should be able to help people with special needs (pregnant women, mother with small kids, elderly, physically challenged), and employees should also remain alert to ensure that customers know when their turn is approaching – all these ensure that the irritation of waiting is reduced considerably for customers.

As mentioned, even if the waiting times were not long, a company can improve the perceived waiting by providing top class interactions – interactions that would be friendly, accurate, empathetic, and genuinely show thankfulness for the customer’s patience, time, and business. It is extremely important that the employees responsible for assisting customers are not only kind, but also knowledgeable and interested in making things easier for the customers. Every employee must be able to convey to customers that they are important, valued, and that serving them is top priority for the company.

What are some of the things your company does to improve customers waiting experience? Providing fun and entertaining distractions are a great way to keep customers at ease even when waiting. Many places have TV monitors playing news, or sports, or some kind of fun channel. The best way however, it would seem would be provide free wi-fi for all visitors. Most people busy themselves by looking up companies and products, catching up on social media, responding to emails, chatting with friends, and other such online activities. By offering free wi-fi your company can be sure to keep your waiting customers happier and less impatient.

Ensure there is enough reading material for all types of customers, including children who may accompany them. Not all customers may want to watch the TV, and magazines are a great option to keep them busy when waiting.

Ensure that the waiting area has clean drinking water for all. In addition, even if they are chargeable, a company must have a snack counter, with tea and coffee facility too – these facilities not only improve customers waiting experience, but also shows customers that a company cares about them. Another way is to ensure that there are sufficient charging points / stations for their laptops and mobile devices. Customers would be able to work in peace and silence during their wait times, without worrying about the device batteries running out – this would make them feel that their waiting time is being used fruitfully – reducing their frustration of waiting.

One of the top expectations from customers is also one of the best ways to improve customers waiting experience. Customers must be informed about the wait times in advance, and consistently informed on how much longer they would need to wait. A survey revealed that at least 80% of customers interviewed said that their frustration with waiting could be reduced if they knew beforehand how long they would need to wait. With so much technology, and the different tools now available, it is inexcusable on the part of companies to ignore the important aspect of keeping customers informed. Even simple text messages go a long way in improving customers waiting experience – it allows a company to convey to customers about any delays, postponements, cancellations, and any other aspects. Letting customers know about wait times and keeping them constantly updated alleviates frustration and helps to improve significantly the customers waiting experience.

Research reveals that at least 70% customers display less frustration and annoyance at waiting if the company / representatives apologize sincerely. An unfeigned apology shows customers that a company cares and that the wait times are not intentional or due to a lack of efficiency and concern for them.

The ambiance of the waiting area too makes a lot of difference, and a well-done up and properly lit area can serve to improve customers waiting experience. This does not imply that a company needs to spend a fortune on making the working area look bright and pretty. Colourful pebbles, faux water fountains, plants, lighting, colour schemes, and other such things are great ways to make the waiting areas look welcoming and warm.

Waiting has become an inextricable part of the world today, but through processes and well-thought out strategies a company can make it pleasant for customers. As mentioned, customers really do not need to wait today – there are several options in the market today. Hence, if they choose to wait, a company must at least do whatever it can to improve customers waiting experience. Businesses must endeavour to provide top class service with each interaction and this should be the top priority for any company. However, if wait times are required, companies must ensure that these wait times are not a burden and a herculean task for customers.

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