As a business owner, you know that not all wait times are equal. Sometimes, the wait is unavoidable—like when your staff is short-staffed or a customer has a special order.
Other times, you may be able to predict when customers will enter and use that knowledge to reduce their wait times. But even if you’re not able to speed up the process, there are still ways to ensure a positive experience during wait times.
Tips and Tricks to Offer a Positive Experience During Wait Times
It’s no secret that long wait times can affect your bottom line.
In fact, according to a study done by California-based research firm IDC Retail Insights, 63% of customers will leave a store if they have been waiting more than 10 minutes. That’s more than two-thirds!
Here are some tips and tricks to reduce customer frustration and offer a positive experience during wait times:
1. Provide real-time updates
Customers want to know exactly how long they will be waiting. A simple “we apologize for the delay” is not enough. It doesn’t tell them anything about how long they’ll be waiting or why there was a delay in the first place.
Providing real-time updates allows customers to make informed decisions about their time and whether they should continue waiting or go somewhere else instead. You could also use this opportunity to sell additional products or services while they’re waiting and increase your revenue stream.
2. Be on standby to offer help
Make it easy for customers to find someone who can help them quickly — even if they have to wait longer than they’d like — so they don’t feel like they’re just sitting there with no way of knowing when someone will be free or how long it will take for someone else to free up for them.
Let them know what’s going on, so they don’t feel like their time has been wasted by being ignored or forgotten about entirely (unless this is actually true).
3. Provide entertainment
If your business has long wait times, consider offering entertainment for your customers, such as music or videos on a television screen. This will help pass the time for those waiting in line and help them feel more at ease about their experience with your company.
At the least, offer something to read — magazines or newspapers, if available; iPads loaded with games and apps; even just something simple like flyers touting new products or services can help pass the time.
4. Post estimated wait times
If you know how long it should take for someone to receive service, put up an estimated wait time on a monitor so people who don’t want to wait won’t waste their time sitting around. This can help ensure a positive experience during wait times.
5. Use technology to your advantage
Technology can be used to reduce wait times and create a positive experience during wait times for your customers. Try installing tablets at the front desk so that customers can browse while they wait or use mobile apps to allow them to order food, drinks, and more while they wait in line.
This allows your employees to focus on other tasks, freeing up their time so that they can check in with customers faster and improve the overall customer service experience.
6. Offer incentives
Customers love getting perks!
Offer discounts or freebies for those who choose to wait rather than leave without checking out (like an extra 2% off their order). This will encourage people to stay in line longer so that they can receive their discount or freebie!
7. Offer quality food and beverages
If you have food and/or beverage options available for purchase, make sure they are quality items that will satisfy your customers’ needs (and possibly even exceed expectations).
8. Offer comfortable seating
Add plenty of comfortable seating in the waiting area so that waiting customers can sit down when they need a break from standing all day long.
9. Have good signage in place
Make sure there is clear signage that lets customers know where they need to go once they get inside the store. It’s also important to make sure that staff members can direct customers appropriately, even if it’s during a busy period when there are long lines at the register.
10. Set expectations
Use technology like online ordering systems or ticketing apps so that customers can check-in before arriving at the store and receive text notifications when their number is called for service.
This way, they won’t be left standing around wondering if their order has been received yet (or worse: getting frustrated with staff who seem like they aren’t doing anything).
11. Give a preview of what’s coming up
You can use this time to get your customers excited about what they’re waiting for. You can do this by giving them a preview of what’s coming up or by showing off some of your best dishes. This will help pass the time and make people happier when they finally get seated.
Considerations When Implementing Strategies for A Better Experience during Wait Times
1. Your Audience
The first thing to consider is your audience. What are they like? How much do they want to be engaged with during a wait time? Do they want to be entertained, or do they just want information about what’s going on?
For instance, if you have older customers, have some quiet seating areas so no one needs to shout over loud music or other distractions.
It’s also important to make sure that waitpersons are communicating effectively when they deal with customer issues. They should be looking into the eyes of their customers while helping them or speaking clearly in a friendly tone to ensure they are understood.
2. The cause of the long wait times
What caused this wait time to happen? Is it something that can be avoided in the future, or is it a necessary part of doing business today? Is there anything that can be done to make it less painful for customers?
For example, if the wait time is due to space availability, offering welcome amenities like fresh drinks, clean restrooms, or comfortable seating can help reduce stressors. You may also want to consider having wait staff offer tips on how to reduce stress while waiting, such as taking deep breaths or smiling as you do it.
3. Length of wait time
How long will this wait time last? If it’s only a few minutes, there may not be much you can do to improve the experience other than providing more entertainment or updating customers on what’s happening next (if there are multiple people waiting).
If it’s an hour or more, however, there’s plenty of opportunity for creativity and efficiency.
4. Cost of implementation
If you have an hour or more to cover, you should start looking at how much your proposed solution costs compared to how much benefit it brings. Is this worth investing in?
- How much will it cost for you to implement these strategies?
- How much will they save you in lost revenue and frustrated customers?
These questions will lead you to an informed decision when implementing your CX strategies.
The Benefits of Providing a Positive Experience During Wait Times
A positive experience during a wait time is good for business. It can help your customers feel more engaged with your brand and increase their loyalty. That’s why it’s so important to ensure that the wait time is as pleasant as possible.
Here are some of the benefits of ensuring a positive experience during wait times:
1. Reduce customer frustration
A great customer experience can help reduce customer frustration, which is one of the main reasons customers choose to leave a business.
When customers feel frustrated by long wait times, they will likely seek out other means to complete their transactions. They may also be less likely to make future purchases from your business or recommend you to others if they have had negative experiences in the past.
2. Improves customer retention rate
A positive experience during wait times can improve your customer retention rate, which is one of the key metrics every business should focus on increasing. If a customer has had multiple positive experiences with your brand, then they are more likely to remain loyal and continue purchasing from you in the future.
In fact, research shows that customers who feel valued by brands are 13 times more likely to buy again than those who don’t receive any value or attention during their purchase experience.
3. Improved customer satisfaction
Customers will be more likely to return if they have a positive experience, so it’s important to ensure that customers feel like they’re being valued and respected.
A positive experience increases the likelihood of referrals and word-of-mouth marketing.
Happy customers are more likely than unhappy ones to tell their friends about your business, which can lead to new customers and even sales for your business.