By Adrian Swinscoe, Director, RARE Business

This is a story about customer retention when faced with queuing.

If you are like me then I really don’t like waiting or queues. I think it’s a key area for how businesses deal with, what is effectively, a pent-up demand and capacity issue. It’s a bit like phoning a company and getting voicemail or some waiting message… something I wrote about before in Voicemail is rubbish.

As a way of showing you how one company does this, I thought I’d share this story about a local restaurant, a favourite of ours, in Brighton, and how they deal with waiting customers. Local restaurant Bill’s in Brighton is a hugely popular restaurant, especially on a Saturday and Sunday, where they have queues of people (sometimes out the door) waiting to eat. What they find works for them is three things:

1. They acknowledge all customers that come through the door

2. They give out menus in the queue; and

3. They continually communicate with customers in the queue giving them estimates for how long they will have to wait and point out where they will be sitting once the sitting diners are finished.

This works for a number of reasons:

1. They maintain high food and service standards;

2. Their reputation precedes them;

3. By acknowledging and communicating with customers they make them feel welcomed; and finally

4. By giving them menus as they queue they make them feel that their buying experience has already started.

This makes their customer experience extremely ‘sticky’. It’s not 100% reliable but works a lot of the time. I estimate they have a 70-80% success rate in getting people to queue, especially given that there is a new competitor next door.

So, if you have peak demand issues or customers that you have trouble dealing with when times get busy ask yourself this:

• What can you learn from Bill’s?
• How do you make your waiting experience ‘sticky’?
• How do you make waiting for a little while acceptable?

Adrian Swinscoe is Director of RARE Business - adrian@rarebusiness.co.uk


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