Psychology of Queuing by David Maister.docx

Psychology of Queuing by David Maister.docx - 1 Occupied...

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1) Occupied Time Feels Shorter Than Unoccupied Time. In various restaurants, it is common practice to hand out menus for customers to peruse while waiting in line. Apart from shortening the perception of time, this practice has the added benefit of shortening the service time, since customers will be ready to order once they are seated, and will not tie up table space making up their minds. 2) People Want to Get Started. One’s ‘anxiety’ level is much higher while waiting to be served than it is while being served, even though the latter wait may be longer. There is a fear of ‘being forgotten’. (How many times has the reader gone back to a maitre d’ to check that his or her name is still on the list?). Many restaurant owners instruct their service staff to pass by the table as soon as the customers are seated to say “I’ll be with you as soon as I can, after I’ve looked after that table over there”. In essence, the signal is being sent: ‘We have acknowledged your presence’. 3) Anxiety Makes Waits Seem Longer. Nearly everyone has had the experience of choosing a line at the supermarket or airport, and stood there worrying that he had, indeed, chosen the wrong line. As one stands there trying to decide whether to move, the anxiety level increases and the wait becomes intolerable. This situation is covered by what is known as Erma Bombeck’s Law: “The other line always moves faster” 4) Uncertain Waits Are Longer than Known, Finite Waits Clients who arrive early for an appointment will sit contentedly until the scheduled time, even if this is a significant amount of time in an absolute sense (say, thirty minutes). However, once the appointment time is passed, even a short wait of, say, ten minutes, grows increasingly annoying. The wait until the
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