Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Sense When Wait Irritation Heats Up

The Los Angeles Times is reporting how Ralphs supermarkets use body heat trackers to reduce customers’ register checkout times. Sensors are positioned throughout a store, and employing the reasonable assumption that shoppers’ bodies produce heat, the system can assess when it’s time to deploy more cashiers. Ralphs says that waits to get to the front of the line are at half a minute, compared to the industry average of four minutes.
     In your store, you probably don’t need such a hi-tech method—and one that could creep out shoppers when they learn about it—in order to avert the irritation from waiting.
  • Giving customers something interesting to look at can help. Airport waiting areas use television sets with the sound volume kept low. You could do that, too. In hotel elevator lobbies, a large mirror causes time to go faster for waiting guests. Some retailers report good results from relaxing those waiting by pumping in a lavender or vanilla scent. 
  • Especially among American consumers, a foundation of the hating in waiting is the shopper worrying they’re being treated inequitably. “A shopper who arrived after I did might get waited on while I’m standing here waiting on and on.” There’s a research-based technique for easing that source of anxiety: Acknowledge each consumer as that individual arrives in line. Make eye contact. Smile. Nod. 
  • 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. 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. Harvard University studies found that you can ease waiting anxiety and produce higher satisfaction even by depicting work that you didn’t really do. Maybe think of it as entertaining the customer. 
  • 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. 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. 
Click below for more: 
Acknowledge People Waiting in Line 
Screw the Torture of Customer Waits

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