The Long Wait: An In-Store Customer Experience That Kills Business


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A whopping 86% of people polled admitted to walking out of a retail store frustrated with having waited too long for service.
This same Martitz Research survey found that 67% told others about their negative experience and 50% reported that they had posted something online about their negative experience.

What are these store managers thinking? Apparently, not about the following

  • The lost sales opportunity, especially in a slowing economy.
  • The wasted advertising and marketing costs to get the customers in the store, before they walked out.
  • The high likelihood of lost future sales to those customers.
  • The loss of potential sales to unknown customers who are influenced by negative word-of-mouth.

Obviously businesses cannot staff-up to handle unexpected increases in business. However, according to this study, even a little consideration for the customer’s experience can pay big dividends.

  • 87% of the people said they would increase their wait time if they felt compassion or apologies were offered.
  • 67% would wait longer if they were updated on their status.
  • 74% would stick around longer if they got a smile.

These results are about wait time in stores but there are much broader implications. As a society at large, people are experiencing a great deal of time stress and this pushes them out of their psychological comfort zone. As a consequence, it takes less to trigger behaviors that negatively impact businesses.
Don’t just eliminate the frustration, aim elicit a little positive emotion. Remember, 74% would stick around longer for a smile.

John Todor
John I. Todor, Ph.D. is the Managing Partner of the MindShift Innovation, a firm that helps executives confront the volatility and complexity of the marketplace. We engage executives in a process that tackles two critical challenges: envisioning new possibilities for creating and delivering value to customers and, fostering employee engagement in the innovation and alignment of business practices to deliver on the new possibilities. Follow me on Twitter @johntodor


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