When waiting is good for business

This week I came across an interesting counter-intuitive (for me) finding: slowing down service may improve the perceived quality of the product. Watching the video of Steve Souders’ presentation at Velocity 2013 (below), from about minute 3:08 onwards, I learned that:

–       Designers of the Blogger platform installed an artificial delay between the moment a user presses a button to create a blog and when they receive confirmation that the blog has been created, because users did not believe that it could take so little time to set up a blog;

–       The company behind CoinStar, a brand of machines that counts coins, delayed the display of information about the value of the coins inserted in the machine, and introduced an artificial recording of the sound of coins falling. After that change, the customers were more likely to feel that the result was accurate than before that change.

Steve calls these interventions ‘perception brokerage’.

So, I started thinking about circumstances when I might prefer service to be slow. I came up with the following:

–       A meal in a restaurant. If it takes only a few minutes to get food on the table, I suspect that the chef did not cook the meal from scratch for me. It is either something that they had prepared by mistake for another table, or it was pre-prepared and they just popped it in the microwave;

–       Checking something on the computer. If the member of staff I am dealing with tries to find something on the computer (for instance, whether there is stock of a product that I am looking for, or an alternative date for an appointment, or records of a previous conversation), does a couple of clicks and comes back with a negative reply, I feel that s/he did not try hard enough.

What about you? When do you prefer to wait?

3 thoughts on “When waiting is good for business

  1. I remember reading a story once about an airport that had made huge strides in speeding up their luggage processing, but were still receiving a lot of complaints about waiting from passengers. So instead of trying to make baggage processing even faster, they lengthened the walk from the gates to the baggage carousel, making it long enough that when people got there, their bags were usually waiting, or very shortly dispensed.

    Did people complain about the long walk? No. And they weren’t complaining as much about waiting for bags anymore either! Brilliant.


    1. They filled the passengers’ time and their perceptions changed. Clever!

      Thank you for stopping by Jen.

      PS – love the ‘About’ page in your blog. You hair is looking rather nice today, too 😉


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