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We’ve all been there.
In a queue. Waiting.
You’re watching everyone else get served and asking yourself, why can’t they make this faster? Why can’t they put more staff on? Why is my time being wasted in this queue?
You might be surprised to learn that the time you spend waiting in that queue has been mathematically calculated.
That place where you’re waiting knows exactly how long you will spend on hold, or standing in line and they balance that time against customer satisfaction levels…
The Simple Truth About Customer Satisfaction
You might think that to maintain awesome levels of customer satisfaction you need to have outstanding products and services, diligent processes and reports and excellently trained staff who know when to make a decision that’s right for the customers.
Well, you do need those things but the truth about consistently good customer satisfaction is much simpler.
Customers are satisfied when you meet their expectations. They are really satisfied when you exceed their expectations but the simple truth behind happy customers is how well you set their expectations in the first place. Let me explain this marketing plan in more detail.
A Little Bit Of Little Goes A Long, Long Way
First up, let’s get the mathematics out of the way. Queuing theory is the study of queues. It sounds exciting doesn’t it? And you thought your job was boring. But in fact, queuing theory can tell us a lot of quite interesting information like fast your customers rock up to a queue, how long they have to wait and how quickly they are being served.
You can probably see that all these things are a pretty good indicator of how well your whole service delivery process is working.
In 1961 John Little realised that to reduce the length of a queue, you need to slow arrivals and you need to speed exits up. It sounds obvious doesn’t it? Little’s Law tells you how to reduce the size of your queue and it innovated a new way of thinking about the mechanisms of service delivery.
But what if you could make customers happy about being in the queue.
The Secret To Making Your Customers Queue Happily
Clearly it’s important to look for way to improve your service delivery process. While you’re doing that you can improve customer satisfaction levels by simply changing your customers’ perception of waiting.
Let them know how long they will have to wait.
Have you ever been on hold and heard the robot lady tell you that you are 5th in the queue and your waiting time is approximately 7minutes. Or the same voice telling you that the average waiting time right now is 17minutes. This is the information you use to decide to hang on or hang up – and thus your expectations are defined. When your call gets answered in 11minutes, you’re delighted!
Or you take a ticket and you see a big counter on the wall, calling the next number in the queue. You can see the progress being made and how quickly the numbers are changing, and from this you can work out how long you have to wait. There is no queue jumping either. It’s an orderly (if boring) wait for service.
Of course letting your customers know how long they can expect to wait will only work in your favour if the wait time is within their “acceptable wait” time for the value you offer.
Give your customers something to do while they are waiting.
This one is the secret gem of great customer satisfaction because it allows customers to become engaged in the process. And that helps them become connected to the outcome. They’re part of the results and that gives them a spot at the start of the tickertape parade that is their buying experience.
Regardless of whether you have a physical store, or you are online, never under-estimate the power of being part of the process in terms of customer satisfaction levels, even if it’s at a seemingly trivial level.
What it means in real life…
If you often have customers waiting in a physical location, look for ways to take any randomness out of the waiting process. Uncertainty causes anxiety, which leads all the way to angry customers!
Structure is the key. By adding some structure and surety to your customers wait time you will definitely boost your customer satisfaction levels.
- Acknowledge customers on arrival and let them know if there is a wait time
- Use a ticketing system that lets customer move around while maintaining their “spot”
- Take waiting customers past interesting (and distracting) displays
- Invite customers to participate in questionnaires or competitions while they wait
What it means online…
Even if you don’t have customers forming a literal queue, a virtual queue can quite easily form when you’re busy. Well done you if you’re busy but when you work online, it’s easy to miss the signals that your customers are getting annoyed…. Until they’ve gone to your competitor.
Transparency is the key. When you let your customers see that something is happening, you’re giving them the free set of steak knives of customer satisfaction.
- Look for non-essential milestones you can bring forward to get the ball rolling
- Create a delivery schedule so your customers know when they’ll hear from you
- Break your service into smaller segments and get customer involvement at each stage
- Regularly get in touch and keep your customers in the loop
Improving Customer Service Is Only Half The Solution
While you might prefer to pull out your eyelashes than read about the mathematics of queuing theory, you should be looking for ways to shorten your queue and delight your customers with amazing, personal, diligent customer service.
After you’ve improved your service delivery to the best it can possibly be, you can sky rocket their customer satisfaction by accurately setting expectations and helping them define what “satisfied” means.
When you do that, your customers will be happy before you deliver a single thing.
Do you think you can rock your customers’ world?
Belinda is a professional marketing copywriter who confidently walks the line between writing effective copy and creating an engaging brand personality. You don’t have to choose between them! Visit Copywrite Matters for copywriting services and The Copy Detective for a weekly dose of copywriting, marketing and all things business.