You know what it’s like. Sit chatting with a friend, and the hours can zip by. But once someone puts you on hold [audio: bad on-hold music] or makes you wait in line, each second feels interminable. But Dan Zakay of Tel Aviv University has some tricks for businesses to keep waiting customers happy. He published the psychology research in the journal NeuroQuantology.
He wanted to know how we subjectively perceive waiting time. So 50 people in one group were asked to wait, with absolutely nothing to do. Another 50 were also asked to wait the same length of time—but they could watch TV. Then both groups were asked to estimate how much time had passed. The ones who watched television thought they waited on average only half as long as the ones with zip to keep them occupied.
Zakay says businesses can use this subjective experience of time to manipulate us. Customers stuck in line could be offered coffee or visual distractions like the TV example. Long lines can be broken down to multiple shorter ones that seem less onerous. These simple techniques can keep us waiting happily. And make us more likely to be return customers.
[The above text is an exact transcript of this podcast.]