When I enter the Chick-fil-A drive-thru lines, there are typically 10-15 cars ahead of me. The cars move slowly but surely. Employees take your order. Others confirm your order. Others provide the food. In a study conducted a couple years ago, Chick-fil-A was noted as having the longest drive-thru times. But I don’t mind the wait. It just does not seem that long.
Recently I went to a different fast food restaurant. When I arrived at the drive-thru, there were only 4 cars ahead of me. After 5 minutes, one car had moved. I did not see hardly any progress. I exited the line and left.
There are times when I’ll call a company, and they’ll estimate my hold time – let’s say it’s 4 minutes expected until someone will answer my call. A minute later the message says that the estimated hold time is 3 minutes or 2 minutes. I stay on the line. But with most organizations, when we are put on hold, there’s either no noise, or there’s music, or there’s a repetitive message. There is no clear sign of progress or an estimate of when the phone will be answered.
Yes, with so much business being done on phones or via computers, people expect the instant answer. They expect the instant gratification. But for a lot of us, we have the expectation, not of immediacy, but at least of progress. At least seeing the next step. At least being provided an estimate of when that next step will occur. Not only progressing to the next step but being told of or shown that progress.
Sometimes it’s not the wait or the perceived inactivity that is bothersome. The problem is the perceived lack of progress.
Maybe companies are working like crazy to help you, to keep the process moving. But for customers to appreciate it, they need to see it. They need to be told it. They need to understand it.
We can’t assume that – because we’re running 100 miles an hour – that the customer feels like we’re working on their behalf; we can’t assume they feel like there is progress.
When the process isn’t done, show progress to the customer.
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