Tips for a more pleasant queue

28Sep10

Nobody likes waiting in line, and there are few places that involve more waiting than the airport. From endless security lines to overburdened bathroom queues to slow-moving boarding procedures, air travel seems to be one frustrating queue after another.

In fact, while waiting in one such line at the Fort Lauderdale airport, I thought of several ways that venue owners could make the process less painful for customers. When designing a queue — or more likely, trying to fix one that causes people grief — here are a few good tips to keep in mind:

– Don’t ask people to form a line until you’re actually ready to serve them. For example, there’s little point in making them wait in line for 20 minutes before you start boarding a plane.

– Give people an easy way to verify they’re in the correct line. This might mean showing the flight number and destination on an overhead screen, or providing static signage for something like “Returns and exchanges only” in a retail environment.

– Keep the queue far away from hot or cold areas. People get annoyed enough just from being in line, and you’re not doing them any favors by forcing them to wait next to a hot window or drafty doorway.

Some of these suggestions may require more planning than others, but the overall concept is the same. Make waiting in line more enjoyable (or at least less onerous), and customers will be happier. In turn, they’ll probably be more polite and less impatient when dealing with your employees, which leads to happier and more productive staff. Ideally, there would be a way to eliminate all lines and waiting. But short of that, it’s worth investing the time to make your queues a little bit more pleasant.



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