The Architecture of Lineups

I hate lineups.  For anything really. I’m impatient and I usually want things as fast as they can humanly be delivered to my hands.  I’m pretty sure no one likes lineups so it is a perplexing issue to me that as humans (lineup haters) we don’t do everything in our power to minimize, shrink, or do what every we can to demolish these horrible things that eat up our time.

I don’t believe it is the general public’s or customers fault that there are lineups, it all has to do with the choice of architecture of the lineup.  These companies and organizations that under estimated their own traffic and how long wait times would be now must look to alternate methods of satisfying the demand at a minimal cost.

There is some research being conducted around lineups and how to minimize wait times but this research is mostly for grocery stores and Wal-Mart.  I think the research paid off, the “Express Line” at Safeway, the “12 items or less line” at Superstore and the newly adopted number system at Wal-Mart where they herd everyone into a line and a lovely women over the loud speaker tells you which till to go to once you reach the front of the herd.  All in an attempt to save their customer’s time.

It is very easy to find the organizations that don’t believe in “line reduction research”.  Craven Country Jamboree, Tim Horton’s, and my bank TD Canada Trust.

If I was to conduct my own research within these organizations here is what I would try.

Craven: Offer an express lane for vehicles only, no trailers.  As well, have line marshals that insure the line is constantly moving.  If it begins to bottleneck somewhere the line marshals must keep the vehicles moving.  Seems like a not bad solution to a problem that 25,000 people complain about every year.

Tim Horton’s: Offer an express lane to people who just want coffee.  Tim Horton’s could charge a quarter more in the “caffeine line”, I’d pay more for my coffee if I could have it right now.  Have a thermos?  How about an automatic coffee dispensary for all those who don’t mind serving themselves.

TD Canada Trust:  Again, offer an express lane to people who have no questions, that know exactly what they need to do and won’t take any longer than a minute.  The line gets bottlenecked when those REALLY friendly people come in and need to strike up a conversation about anything but their bank account.  TD knows that they can not compromise customer service so just have two lines, one for questions/conversations and one for banking.

Treating your customers better is a proven strategy to increase customer loyalty.  Caring about your customers time is obviously an undiscovered facet of customer service.  As our world keeps progressing and we get more busy, our time increases in value.  Finding an innovative way to tell your customers you care about their time could have a lasting effect on how they perceive your brand.

What do you think?

Photo Credit: Those funny pictures . com
2 replies
  1. Eric H
    Eric H says:

    I will agree that lines, especially lengthy ones, are rather annoying – and yes they are a waste of time. BUT they do offer one unique benefit, and that is the wonderful people watching opportunities that come from standing in them.

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