Sunday, August 26, 2012

Screw the Torture of Customer Waits

In last weekend’s New York Times, an article titled “Why Waiting Is Torture” detailed how the psychology of consumer delays counts for more than what shows on the stopwatch. Principally, you can turn around the torture by entertaining the person. For instance, put mirrors or the right sorts of impulse-buy items in areas where shoppers might encounter delays, and you’ll get from the shopper less than the average 36% overestimation of the waiting time.
     Other forms of entertainment include showing the consumer the work you’re doing on their behalf and/or telling them about it.
  • Work in front of the customer and give a running rendition about the progress being made. Say how far along you are and how much further you have to go. In e-tailing, a progress bar is better than an hourglass. Researchers at University of Singapore and University of Toronto found that consumers evaluated the price of a locksmith service as a better value when the service took longer than when the lock was picked faster, as long as they were kept informed of the progress. 
  • Build anticipation. Researchers at University of California-San Diego and Duke University discovered that although people say they would never pay more money if it meant waiting longer for delivery, those same people report experiencing substantial pleasure from anticipation during the wait. Consumers sometimes don’t know what they’d like, or they prefer not to tell the retailer. Consumer psychologists at University of Chicago found that with products like theatre tickets or premium chocolate candies, the average purchaser enjoyed it more if there was a delay before use of the product. 
  • A set of Harvard University studies found that you can ease waiting anxiety and produce higher satisfaction even by depicting work that you didn’t really do. This struck the researchers as lying to the customer. Another way to view it is as entertaining the customer, and remember that entertainment helps pass the time. 
     All this will work, though, only if the outcome of the wait is satisfying. One of the Harvard University studies analyzed consumer waits in using a matchmaking service. Even when regular status reports were given on the progress of finding the right one, there were howls of irritation about the long delay if the consumer was also shrieking, “You made me wait for all this time, and you think this is the person who best fits with me?”

Click below for more: 
Fill In the Hourglass for Customers 
Make Waiting in Line Interesting 
Wait a Minute Before Purging Customer Waits 
Keep the Checkout Lines Flowing

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