Queues: After you

Let’s face it—no one likes waiting in queue—so why do we do it? 

Research suggests that we have a natural tendency for fair play that is deeply engrained in each of us from an early age, and this in part shapes the social norms governing queues. In fact, studies suggest people care more about this sense of fairness than the actual wait time.  

Businesses are well aware of the impact queues can have on customers’ experiences and overall satisfaction as explained by the recency effect—the tendency for the experience of recent events to overshadow prior experiences.  In other words, a bad experience in the queue can ruin an otherwise enjoyable experience. To address this, Krispy Kreme for example shows customers fresh doughnuts being made while they wait in line, and Disney World shows visitors estimated wait times for attractions in cleverly designed queues. 

What can queues teach us about healthcare marketing?  To start, there is an innate desire for fairness and mutual respect for time.  This principle should apply to all communication between businesses and customers.  Just as with queuing, there are a series of social norms and expectations that apply to interactions between businesses and customers; and when clearly articulated (as in the Wimbledon example in the video), they can be quite effective.  Above all, we must remember that we are only as good as our last interaction!  

To learn more about the behavioural psychology of queuing, check out the full video clip below.