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What my Tesco Metro taught me yesterday








I walked into my local Tesco Metro the other day and they have this new, real-time display above the entrance doors. Sometimes it says ’30 seconds’ even. This time it was less than 60.

The lesson’s  obvious for all of us. This just makes the point in one wonderfully ‘in  your face’ screen. In the 1980s and 1990s, large organizations busily created processes for managing customers based on them/us queuing or waiting in line – most notably the contact centre/center industry.

But, customers don’t want to wait. They hate you for it. They hate your call centres that queue them or make them wait in line. They hate your attempts to route them through your system with Interactive Voice Response.  They hate you for making them fill in a form with their personal details when you already have that information. They don’t want that. They want a real person answering their question now.

The reason they won’t wait is that time is life. By asking them to wait, you are stealing their precious time – you are taking little chunks of their life. You are killing them by moments. That’s how they/we see it. Life’s short. We all want to get the most out of it. The more you eat into people’s time by making them wait, the more you are, literally, taking their life away from them, second by second, when they want to do something else with that time.

So, before you build yet another process based on the assumption that customers will wait in line to reach you. Or even on the cynical assumption that they won’t wait, so you ‘manage’ the queue that way – which we all have experience of as customers; you actually exploit the ‘Life’s too short to wait’ feeling we all have by making your service have a long wait time – the traditional route for keeping customer complaint calls down – then you are, in the long-term, dead yourself as an organization.

Follow Tesco. Follow Disney. Bust your queues or lines. Don’t build processes that assume customers will wait for you.

Why on earth should they?

Phil Dourado 

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