Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Customers standing in the middle of a queue are positively affected by increasing queue lengths; it seems they infer that the product or service is more valuable as the queue behind worsens; those at the front feel pressured and suffer

Breathing Down Your Neck!: The Impact of Queues on Customers Using a Retail Service. Martin Dahm et al. Journal of Retailing, Volume 94, Issue 2, June 2018, Pages 217-230.

•    We explore the effects of waiting lines on the person at the front of a queue.
•    Effects are found on an affective, an evaluative, and a behavioral level.
•    Feelings of social pressure are shown to mediate the effects.
•    Own waiting time acts as a significant moderator of the identified relationships.
•    Two managerial interventions are found to attenuate these effects.

Abstract: While a rich body of research has examined the psychological costs and benefits of queuing, this research focuses on the customer currently using a retail service and examines how this customer is affected by lines forming at his or her back. Drawing on Social Impact Theory, we postulate that customers feel pressured by people waiting behind them and that this feeling of social pressure leads to more negative affective experiences, poorer participation in co-creation settings, and lower perceptions of service quality. Five field and controlled experimental studies tested these predictions and also explored how retailers can reduce the adverse impact of queues. Studies 1A and 1B show that the customer’s experience deteriorates as queue length increases and that perceptions of social pressure mediate this effect. Studies 2A and 2B show that this effect is moderated by customers’ own waiting time such that customers are more affected by queues forming at their backs when their own waiting time decreases. Finally, study 3 identifies two strategies to attenuate the negative effects of waiting lines, namely explicitly reassuring the focal customer that she need not feel pressured to be efficient and removing the waiting customers from the line of vision of the focal customer.

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