The Psychology of Queuing Revealed in 6 Simple Rules - Deepstash
A positive queuing experience

Research reveals that how people feel while waiting is more important than how long they wait.

Everyone stands in line in the physical world. It is a way to deal with high demand. Online lines serve the same purpose, given the technical challenges of peak website traffic. By understanding queue psychology, you can ensure a positive experience for your customers.

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In the 1950s New York City, the problem was waiting in line for the elevators of the city's new skyscrapers. But building managers soon realised the problem wasn't the waiting time - it was the perceived waiting time.

The solution was to add floor indicators showing people the elevator's progress and adding floor-to-ceiling mirrors near the elevators to distract and occupy people. Similar solutions are found in airports, doctor's waiting rooms and supermarkets.

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  1. Unoccupied time feels longer than occupied time. Find creative ways to engage your customers.
  2. People want to get started. Ensure that your customer feels like they've started. E.g. add a progress bar on the online queuing page.
  3. Uncertain waits feel longer. Give an estimated waiting time. Err on the side of overestimation.
  4. Unexplained waits feel longer. Provide clear explanations.
  5. Unfair waits are longer. Treat customers on a first-in, first-out basis.
  6. Anything that can cause anxiety makes waits feel longer. Keep a fair, one line queue to prevent repeated anxiety about choosing the "right line".

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