Top Ten Customer Turnoffs: “A Long Wait”

We are an impatient society and want everything now.  To illustrate this, have you ever put food in the microwave and taken it out before the “dinger” went off?  You impatient person!  Some of you may not even remember life before microwave ovens.  How did we heat our food?  Either by using an oven or cooking on a stove top.  Either would have taken 20 minutes or more.  Now we think three minutes is a long time.

For the next few weeks, I am going to be discussing the Top Ten Customer Turnoffs.  Why do we want to spend time thinking about this topic?  The obvious answer is so we don’t do those things.

The Number One Customer Turn Off

The number one customer turnoff is a long wait.  Ask yourself: Where do my customers have to wait?  It may be in a physical line at a check out register, waiting on a return phone call or email, receiving a promised product, or getting the resolution to a problem or issue.  If you had a blood pressure meter on everyone’s forehead and you monitored it while people are waiting, the vast majority of people will show an increase on the gauge.

C. Leslie Charles says in her book, Rule #1: Customer Service Handbook,

“Serve customers promptly; the longer a person has to wait, the higher their frustration level gets.”

When I worked at Disney, long lines in the ride queues were always a concern.  Some waits were unavoidable, but we helped make the lines more tolerable by spending a lot of time and money on creating a themed queue area so the guests had something to focus on other than the time they were spending in line.  The introduction of the Fast Pass program was also an attempt to deal with long lines.

Email Best Practice

One of the most common ways customers can experience a long wait comes from email. Usually, they send their question and they expect a prompt response.  For example, when you receive an email and it may take time to research the issue, when should you respond?  Some may think that it is acceptable to wait to send a response after you obtain the requested information.  Wrong answer.  It is best to immediately respond acknowledging the receipt of the email and then give an estimate of when you will get back to them with the requested information.  If you are unable to meet the promised response date, you should provide an update.

Can I Give You My Money?

If you work in retail, the worst thing you can do is make your customers wait at the checkout register.  Customers do not want to wait, especially when handing over their hard-earned money in exchange for your products.  We all have experienced those times at a large retail location when we turn the corner to head to the checkout lanes and notice that only one or two out of 20 lanes are open.  Be sure to train all front-end employees to pay attention to the length of checkout lines and call for help as soon as they start building beyond an acceptable level.

The key to not letting wait times become a major problem is to react quickly when receiving communication or when you notice a line starting to form.  Respond promptly just as you would hope to be treated if you were the one waiting.

Next week we will deal with Customer Turnoff #2: The Run Around.

Please feel free to reach out with any comments or questions. I can be reached by clicking here.