Reducing Waiting in Customer Experience Through Technology and Analytics

This is the fifth blogpost in a nine post series (originally published by IBM) focused on the intersection of customer experience and technology, data and analytics. This post covers the Second R of responsiveness and the importance of reducing waiting.

Someone once said we spend 10% of our lives waiting. We’re certain it’s true because we once read it on the Internet. In all seriousness, waiting is a fact of life. It’s an irritating and annoying fact of being a customer. One of the most impactful ways companies are using technology is to help their customers wait less or, when waiting can’t be avoided, help the time pass more quickly.

Case Study: Applebee’s

Many companies are embracing the self-service trend. Julia Stewart, CEO of Applebee’s, says, “Customers have been telling us for some time—even myself … I don’t like to wait for the check. That was the first sort of pain point we heard of, and we had this unique opportunity with technology to make a real difference.”

Based on a successful pilot, Applebees bought 100,000 tablets for its restaurant tables. The results show 70% of tables using the tablets. Additionally, appetizer orders increased by 20% and dessert orders by 30%. Tables turned quicker and the kids can play games on the tablet while waiting for their food. This is a win-win scenario as customers are leaving faster, more satisfied and with a higher check total, which the restaurant chain profits from.

Looking to recent survey numbers, these results should come as no surprise. “Almost a quarter of all millennials use self-service kiosks to avoid any sort of interaction with cashiers,” according to Retale president Pat Dermody.

Case Study: First Tennessee Bank

Founded in 1864 and headquartered in Memphis, First Tennessee Bank (FTB) is a leading financial services company. Serving more than 460,000 households across the State, the bank offers a range of retail banking services including checking accounts, mortgages and insurance.

To achieve its goal of doubling annual sales of online accounts by 2019, FTB needed to reduce waiting and give customers a smoother journey through the account sign-up process. FTB implemented IBM Digital Analytics to capture, monitor and analyze real-world customer behavior on its website and mobile app, and identify opportunities for improving the user experience. More user-friendly online and mobile journeys drive more customers to complete the account sign-up process. Ongoing monitoring helps to continuously assess and improve the user experience.

Takeaway: The lesson is clear. Any investment that reduces the wait time will equal happier customers who will ultimately spend more and return time and time again. Don’t fall into the trap of the way you’ve always done things. While new technologies can cause growing pains, customers’ expectations are always increasing and you must use every tool in your arsenal to get ahead of the curve.

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – According to Tom Petty, the waiting is the hardest part:

Stan Phelps is a popular keynote speaker and workshop facilitator. He believes that brands must focus on meaningful differentiation to win the hearts of both employees and customers. Driven by client objectives and inspired by bold vision, Stan works with clients to create programs, keynotes, and workshops that are memorable and on brand, inspiring businesses to become talkable by design. The result: programs that win BIG.

Contact Stan at stan@purplegoldfish.com or call +1.919.360.4702

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