It’s no secret that life’s pace has accelerated exponentially in the last few decades. On the one hand, the speed of life has brought many benefits. Most of the time, we can get items next-day delivery and order just about everything online. But at the same time, these changes have created an intolerance to waiting. No longer are customers willing to stick around on hold for a representative or stand in long lines at the store. Driven by the need for instant or almost-instant gratification, consumers are becoming increasingly less likely to wait. In order to succeed in business today, it has become essential to eliminate long waiting times as best as possible.
The negative effects of poor customer services on a company have been well-recognized for decades. But what’s changed is how poor customer service is being defined. Long waiting times might have been tolerated in an era prior to the Internet. But this is no longer the case. Whether it’s long lines at a cashier or extended on-hold times, consumers now perceive this as unacceptable. Fortunately, there are easy strategies that companies can pursue that can alleviate these problems. And if employed well, these can effectively minimize the undesirable effects of poor customer service related to long queues.
Negative Impact of Long Queues
According to research studies, long waiting times are poorly tolerated by consumers today. On average, the longest a customer is willing to wait in a store is about 14 minutes. Naturally, this can vary depending on the items needed and the situation. However, suffice it to say, that the amount of time waiting considered reasonable us much shorter in the modern world. And because of this, businesses that ignore this are suffering the negative effects of poor customer service. All it takes is one such experience, and a company may likely lose that person for good. Businesses only get one chance to make a first impression. If that impression is unfavorable because of long wait times, that customer may never give them a second chance.
From a psychological perspective, the effects of poor customer service can be far-reaching. Research studies show that we tend to remember a negative experience much more than a positive one. Based on evolution and survival of the fittest, this is important. Avoiding undesirable situations is much more important when it comes to life and death matters. But these tendencies spill over into how we perceive and recall all experiences. That’s why a prolonged waiting time in a queue can convince to go elsewhere. And even worse, we’re much more likely to tell our friends and family members about bad experiences over good ones. This is why investing to solutions to improve customer service is important.
Customer Reactions to Long Waiting Times
The negative effects of poor customer service to businesses have been described in relation to long queues. However, consumers react poorly to these situations at the time of the customer experience, which add insult to injury. In retail centers and brick-and-mortar stores, long waiting lines may trigger a number of reactions. if lines are too long or moving too slow, customers may choose to leave items of a shelve and leave. Not only has a customer been lost, but staff will have to take time to restock those items. This may occur prior to getting into a checkout line. But the impact can be even worse if it occurs after waiting in line for a cashier. If frustration mounts then, a customer leaving will be observed by everyone else waiting. Naturally, this can result in a snowball effect. Before long, the entire atmosphere becomes tense and stressful. These are the types of negative effects of poor customer service that needs to be avoided.
Similar negative reactions often occur when using call centers or customer support lines. Long waiting times in the queue frustrates consumers, even when soothing music is playing. Naturally, phones may be placed on speakerphone mode, allowing individuals to do other things. But they remain tethered to their phones and unable to use their time doing more productive tasks. These situations can be just as frustrating to customers if not more. This is especially true when a call is dropped with no callback after waiting an extended period of time. In this situation as well, it’s not likely that customer will use that company again. And the negative reviews it might provoke can certainly perpetuate the problem.
A Proactive Customer Service Solution
The good news is that many of the negative effects of poor customer service can be easily improved. There are several solutions that help either reduce long waiting times or improve customer perceptions. In many instances, old legacy systems and processes in place can no longer keep pace with modern expectations. In this regard, technologies can be used to reduce wait times and long queues while streamlining workflows. Automation technologies can go a long way toward improving many situations. These along with data-driven solutions that anticipate issues ahead of time are great ideas in shortening customer queues.
Perceptions play a significant role in customer opinions when it comes to long waiting times. You’ve heard the term, “A watched pot never boils,” because the perceived time and actual time differs. The same is true for consumers waiting in lines or on the phone. Implementing distraction solutions to engage and entertain customers while waiting can reduce negative reactions. Similarly, options for self-service or the use of online resources for common issues can prevent many frustrations altogether. And quality customer support services that anticipate customer needs prior to the need to call can further improve situations. The key is to be proactive and up-to-date. When this type of approach is taken, the effects of poor customer services can be dramatically reduced.