Is waiting a part of service experience?

Average American spends 2 to 3 years of his life waiting in a line. How much do your clients need to wait during their service experience? Perhaps not every client and not in every service situation, but they surely spend a while waiting.

It’s quite common that service provider’s effort to improve service experience is focused on finding ways to reduce wait time. This is definitely necessary but whatever you do, you can never eliminate waiting 100%.

Why clients couldn’t just wait? Well, they could, but that tends to damage the overall service experience and reduce repurchase intentions. We really don’t like to wait. If we need to – we become anxious. The longer we wait, the more negative emotions pile up. For example if you feel quite tired after a long day and need to wait for your queue standing up for a couple of minutes – that’s not a big deal. Yet after twenty minutes of waiting you would be quite twitchy already. What’s even more important, when we have nothing to do – time seems to pass by much slower.

This is why the content of customers’ wait time is clearly underestimated compared to comfort during that same period (which, let’s face it, gets much more attention when designing a service). The question here is: how could we ensure that while waiting our customer maintains (or even improves) his positive mood?

The classical examples of giving customer something to do while sitting in a queue would be brochures in the bank or magazines at the hairdresser’s. These aren’t bad examples if the content of the reading materials is chosen with care and matches the service journey in general.

To summarize all that: the main challenge of service designers, in order to make sure that the wait doesn’t ruin the overall impression, is to fill that time with content that completes the service experience in a way that the customer doesn’t feel that his time was wasted.