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How to Reduce Wait Times & Increase Customer Satisfaction

Long waits are a challenge for almost every business and hurt customer satisfaction over time. Learn how to shorten wait times to make customers happy.



Thu Mar 31 2022 • 5 min read

How to Reduce Wait Times & Increase Customer Satisfaction

There’s nothing more frustrating than long lines, bottlenecks, and overall congestion when it comes to customer flow. A long wait is a surefire way to start off on the wrong foot with your guests. Plus, a bad queueing experience can have negative cascading effects and force your staff to work that much harder to impress customers.

By shortening wait times, businesses can increase customer satisfaction and improve revenue.

Why wait times matter

It shouldn’t be a surprise that the experience your customers have with your brand matters. According to research by American Express, 72% of buyers will spend more money if a business offers a great customer experience. Critically, the same study found that 66% of customers do not complete a business transaction or make a purchase because of poor customer service. Don’t forget, too, the serious impact that negative reviews can have on your brand.

Long wait times can be a major source of contention for customers. In fact, queues are so frustrating that many customers look for creative solutions to avoid them or to jump to the front of the line. And, as life moves increasingly faster, people are becoming less patient.  

Queues with long waits are highly inefficient. Not only do they impede customer flow, but they also threaten the efficiency of your operations. Research has shown that when customers feel like they’ve waited too long, they’ll take up more time when it’s their turn. This could be because they’re busy complaining (and stressing out your staff) or because they feel like they need to make the wait worthwhile by asking more questions or requesting additional services.  

So, there’s a lot at stake – a customer’s entire experience can be derailed by a long wait.

Effect of long waits times across different industries

Certain industries have developed a reputation for recurring issues with long wait times. Healthcare, retail stores, and theme parks are among some of the industries that struggle with the longest wait times.


Long wait times are so common in medical facilities that they have become the norm. In fact, one study shows that 90% of emergency department visits have longer wait times than the recommended standard.

Not only can this lead to patient dissatisfaction, but it can also lead to worse outcomes for patients who could have benefited from being seen earlier. In fact, patients between ages 70 and 74 are 10% more likely to have a stroke in medical facilities with long wait times. Add to this the fact that 30% of patients dealing with a long wait will leave before seeing a doctor, and it’s clear that long wait times in medical facilities can have dangerous results.

With so much at stake, healthcare providers actively tackling the problem of long waits are seeing customer satisfaction scores increase. See how NYC’s ModernMD is reinventing the waiting room experience with virtual queues and giving staff the information they need to triage and see patients as quickly as possible.


In the competitively dense retail industry, customers simply won’t put up with long wait times. Customers are only willing to wait for about 15 minutes before being served, and retail businesses report losing 75% of customers due to long wait times. That’s revenue walking directly out the door.

And when customers leave a store angry, the chance of them making a return visit is slim to none. Consumers have an abundance of choice in today’s retail landscape, so improving your queuing experiences is key to driving revenue. Check out how retailers like Louis Vuitton and Best Buy are using technology to reduce wait times and deliver standout customer service.

customers waiting for retail changing room illustration
Retail establishments can lose up to 3/4 of customers due to long wait times.

Theme parks

Travelers don’t want to wait for amusement park rides. In fact, waiting for as little as 10-30 minutes for a ride can cut satisfaction with the ride in half. Waits that last longer than 30 minutes negatively impact the customer experience even more.

Despite this fact, theme parks frequently have long lines. In fact, 3 in 5 report having to wait for attractions once inside amusement parks. Finding innovative ways to improve the queuing experience can increase a park’s perceived value.

Take Detroit’s Scarefest Scream Park – Michigan’s top haunted house – as an example. Long waits for this popular attraction were hurting customer reviews. After eliminating physical lines with a virtual queue management system, Scarefest Scream Park saw a 179% increase in 5-star reviews. Read the whole story here.

3 ways to reduce wait times & increase customer satisfaction

It’s one thing to understand the need to reduce wait times, and another thing to accomplish the task and simultaneously increase customer satisfaction.

Here are three ways you can reduce wait times at your business.

1. Implement a virtual queue management system

Virtual waitlist solutions like Waitwhile allow customers to join a digital queue and then wait from anywhere, receiving regular updates on their status. The result is that most of the time, it doesn’t feel like waiting at all.

AI-powered algorithms give your customers precise wait times, so there’s never a surprise. Waitwhile learns how your business runs over time, making these estimates more and more exact as you continue using the platform.

Although virtual queues don’t actually get rid of the wait — customers are still in a line that they cannot physically see — they give guests freedom and autonomy while waiting. This may prompt customers to enjoy the other things your business has to offer, from ordering concessions in an amusement park to adding a few more items to their cart in a retail store. If you give your visitors the option to join a virtual queue from home, the customer can time their arrival to when you’ll be ready to serve them.

Because virtual queues turn previously unoccupied time (standing in a physical line) into occupied time (guests can do anything they want), the wait feels shorter or nonexistent. The result? Happier customers, increased revenues, and improved operational efficiency.

2. Offer appointment scheduling

Allowing customers to schedule appointments can prevent them from waiting in lines at all. Instead, they can simply arrive at their scheduled time.

With a queue management system, you can service both bookings and walk-ins at the same time. Centralizing both within a single platform allows you to automate tedious tasks like sending reminders and enables you to deliver the most accurate wait times possible.

3. Increase speed of service

The most straightforward way to reduce your wait times is to increase your service capacity and speed. But oftentimes this can be incredibly cost prohibitive as it requires hiring more staff or increasing your floorspace.

The good news is that a virtual queue management system takes care of this for you.

Automation allows you to do more with less so your staff can manage queues and respond to messages with the click of a button. Plus, a positive queueing experience means that your customers will spend less time when it’s their turn to be served, increasing your efficiency.

And with the operational analytics available in a queue management platform, you gain important insights into how your business runs. Uncover the cause of snags in your customer flow, see when business is busiest, and find out which employees are the quickest to make appropriate operational changes.

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