The Waiting Game

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The Waiting Game

By John Stanley On a recent flight to South Africa to work with clients I read Dr Paddi Lund�s excellent new book �The Absolutely Critical Non Essentials� If you have not read it, I recommend you should. For those that do not know Paddi and his story, he is a Dentist based in Brisbane, Queensland. This is the second book of his that I have read and this one I have found as much fun and stimulating as his first one. In this book he talks about the little things in your business that make the customer go WOW. He talks about the fact that customers are not impressed with his dentistry as they do not know an excellent dentist from a good one. They only know when a dentist is bad. They judge the business on the little things that make a difference, what Paddi calls The Critical Non Essentials. I will not discuss his gems in this article, but just to say, in my opinion, it is a must read for anyone in business, it make you reanalyse what you are doing, something any good management book should do. Click here to purchase a copy. I read the book and finished it as I landed in South Africa, I gathered my luggage and one hour later I was in my four star hotel. The check in was great, I got to my room to find that the bedside lamp was hanging from a threat and in my opinion was dangerous. But, next to the bed was a form which stated that if anything was malfunctioning in the room to please fill this form in and take it to reception. I duly filled in the form and took it to reception�.and waited�.and waited. When the cleaner came to tidy my room up they assured me the technician was �on their way up.� After a day of waiting the mechanic arrived and the job was finished in less than two minutes, but how long should I have waited in this situation? I was getting stressed after been told someone was on their way and after two hours had decided that I was being forgotten about. For me the waiting game had become a stress game The Waiting game This episode made me think about the waiting game we play as consumers in retail land. How much damage do retailers cause to their business because they do not look on customers waiting as a Critical Non Essential. A report came out in the UK press in 2005 that stated that the average Brit over the age of 55 had spend over two years of their lives standing in a queue (not all at the same time I must add). In the book �The Soul of the New Consumer� the authors David Lewis and Darren Bridger mention that in their research, waiting in a queue was the second most frustrating issue for consumers when shopping. With the competition for consumer wallet share increasing all the time, we need to re-look at the basics in our own business and ask ourselves are we minimizing the waiting game. What frustrates us as consumers? Being put on hold on the telephone to listen to the radio Being told that someone will get back to us within a given period and then not receiving the call Having to stand in queues in stores to check out Filling in forms of complaint at businesses and having no response Businesses that show no empathy to our complaints of waiting Waiting is an Opportunity As consumers we now expect waiting to be part of the game when we go shopping, but we expect retailers to abide by the rules and as retailers this is an opportunity. Researchers tell us that we start getting frustrated when the queue gets longer than four, obviously the longer the queue the increase in frustration. The frustration also increases when we are in a queue and we can see staff in the store filling shelves and checkouts closed. As retailers we need to be proactive and use the waiting game as an opportunity. Consider the following practices for your business: Have a policy that when a queue gets longer than four you open another check out If you have all the checkouts open then you have an empathy statement policy to apologise to consumers when they get to the check out When you open a new check out, you never just shout �next� and let people rush to the next checkout, but take people from the front on the queue who have waited the longest If queues get long then the manager�s role is to entertain the queue. This could, for example, include offering non alcoholic drinks or food samples Have a policy that you inform the customer a time frame when you will get back to them on the phone and then insure you get back to them within that time frame. You will need a phone book recording system to ensure this happens. The customer is happy as long as you get back to them, even if you have not resolved the problem. It is when they are left in the dark that they get annoyed I have never understood why waiting rooms in doctors, dentists and other establishments rarely have the day�s newspaper in there. If there was a time when people hate waiting it is in these situations as they feel they are wasting their time. They could be entertained with today�s newspaper and magazines, rather than the ten year old women�s magazines in most doctors� waiting rooms Manage the holding procedures on the telephone. Customers do not want to listen to adverts and boring music. Entertain them by all means, but be sincere in the process Provide the customer with honest facts, rather than platitudes. �We will get back to you�, when you have no intention of doing so will result in frustrated customers how will tell others about the bad experience