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Improve Client Retention by Managing 'Wait Time' Perception

By Kip Sweeney, Vice President Client Relations at FMSI

"I’m not going to wait an hour for a haircut,” I thought to myself as I raised myself out of the waiting room chair.  Moments earlier, I had arrived at my barber’s office and hurriedly signed-in at the receptionist’s desk. Glancing at the heavily marked-up clipboard-sign-in sheet, it was difficult for me to gauge my place in line. As I took my seat, I surveyed the lobby and noticed a number of visitors, all of whom I presumed were also waiting for a haircut. Thinking I would be waiting ‘a long time’, I decided to make my way towards the front door.

Moments later, I heard a voice call out, “Kip… Kip Sweeney, we’re ready for you now.” Much to my surprise, I am immediately escorted to a barber chair.  What happened? Did the staff see me leaving and scramble to assist me? Not quite.

I learned that the people waiting in the lobby were simply attendants of other customers and were not in-line to be served as I had originally speculated. Later, I wondered how many other potential or existing clients took their business else-where due to a similar inaccurate perception. 

With a queue management system like FMSI’s Omnix Lobby Tracker™, organizations can utilize an external monitor displaying a summary of the current lobby queue, to help better manage visitor perception. This summary displays masked visitor names (the 1st three characters of the visitor’s last name along with the 1st three characters of the visitor’s first name). The screen also shows visitor sign-in times, which provide an estimate of the amount of time each visitor in the queue has been waiting.

For organizations providing services that are needed on a regular basis, the cost of lost-revenue from even a single repeat-client, is significant.  Managing perception by setting accurate expectations will help improve client retention rates by preventing misconceptions.