I was reading a post on Facebook where someone mentioned that they were on the phone for 2 hours (include 30 plus minutes of wait time) with a customer service representative for a technology services firm.

What do you consider as a long wait time and what is your reference point? How long is too long?

Many service organizations such as retail stores, doctor offices, airline counters, and IT help/service desks deal with this problem on a regular basis.

With that in mind, we decided to ask our followers how long was too long to wait.

Here are a couple of the responses we received.

  • 30 minutes is too long to wait to be seen at the Doctor’s office
  • 7 -1/2 minutes is too long to wait in a drive through line for a fast food restaurant

The key to improving wait time is to understand all areas of your process that impact the customer wait time. It is also key to understand how your customers define wait time.

Here are a few strategies/theories that have been used by many organizations to improve wait time:

  • Queuing Theory is the science of developing the optimal queues by building an analytical model that predicts the queue lengths and wait times based on various inputs. You can design your process for your desired wait time.
  • Offering self-service options is also a way to minimize the wait time. This is typically a technology intensive option such as the self-service check out counters in grocery stores and the self-service check-in kiosks at airports.
  • Resource optimization is also a great way to minimize wait times. You can analyze your peak times and staff those times with the appropriate number of resources. This load balancing technique has been used in banking centers and call centers.

Check out some of the articles below that have been written about wait time in various areas.

Doctor Office/Hospitals


Technology Help/Service Desk:

Airport wait times:

Branner Consulting, LLC’s signature service is performing Business Operations Reviews for small to medium sized businesses. Using thought leadership and industry specific benchmarking, our team evaluates the current state of client’s day to day operations to determine best practices, lessons learned, and opportunities for improvements. We help you identify potential problems and help you solve them!