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Wait a minute – or rather, DON’T

Time is one of those things that is in limited supply. Once time is gone, it is gone forever and cannot be called back. This has a profound importance for those of us interested in customer experience. What customers truly value is convenience because convenience means less time spent on transactions. Time saved has a value and people are prepared to pay for it with higher prices or increased loyalty.

We spend a huge amount of time waiting. Poorer people spend more time waiting than the rich. Americans earning less than $20,000 a year spend around 45 minutes a day waiting for basic services like childcare, health care and groceries. Those earning over $150,000 a year can knock 12 minutes off this wait time. These minutes add up. Over a year this gap in waiting time between rich and poor is equal to 10 full working days per year. If we were to add time spent waiting for transport the gap would be significantly more.

Now although most of us don’t carry a stopwatch calculating how much time we waste, we intuitively value speedy service. Not only does it reduce the stress of purchasing, it allows us to move on more quickly to do something else that we value. Banks, utility companies and those firms with service desks where you are put on hold for twenty minutes don’t get it. Not only are they frustrating us, they are costing us time and time is money.

Wherever you see a queue of people there is the potential for improved customer experience. Don’t kid yourself that people enjoy queuing. They tolerate it because they have to. It is ironic that the pandemic, which gave us more time than we wanted to do nothing, has inspired time-saving innovations that will enhance customer experience.

Those of us who have ventured out to restaurants during the easing up of the pandemic will have encountered new ways of doing business. You sit at a table, link your phone to the restaurant’s website via a QR scanner and examine the menu. You place your order on your phone and in no time it is delivered to your table. The restaurant has benefited from increased efficiencies. It doesn’t need an army of waiters hanging around for people to choose their food and drink. And we as customers benefit as we don’t have the frustration of trying to catch the attention of waiters who are skilled in eye avoidance. Time is saved all round. The system will surely stay with us post the pandemic.


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