What I HAVE learned from the queues

Most of us “believe” that we do not like to wait to get a product, service, be answered, helped … Managers of the companies do not like their customers wait neither, because it implies a cost for them, and also the possibility of that customers are not satisfied or that they do not finally consume anything.

Why do queues exist?

Firstly, the queues exist not because there is poor planning or lake of management. The queue is something that arises because you do not have full capacity in your company. Especially it is caused because of the variability – not all customers will come at the same time, not all will spend the same time with the servers, etc. Because of this the queues will grow and decrease either in arrival or in service and it will not disappear if the utilization level is high.

There is a false belief: almost all workers are overexploited in their work. This is confused with saturation at certain times: it is not about overexploitation, if that were like that, the queue would be infinite.

 In the queues there is always someone waiting: it may be customers, servers or products. When it is about product, it will not complain, but it can take space and also inquire costs. People do have feelings and that is why we say that the queue has a great emotional component:

When we find ourselves in a place with several and different queues (for example McDonalds), it will always seem to us (perception) that the queue next to us is faster than our- and in addition it is very susceptible to being real, because of probability. Also this type of queues is not convenient because you may have very few people in front of you but they just take more time.

However it should be noted that sometimes we like the queues. That’s why at the beginning of the text I say “we believe” that we do not like it: why do we positively value more the place/company that has more people waiting than the one without queue? why do we go to the restaurant that has more people instead of the one that is empty?

What would be the most efficient kind of queue then?

The single queue. Waiting in a single queue is a fairer system for the client (one row does not advance more than another), has a faster flow, etc.

But why is not it established then in all the supermarkets, for example? Because it also has disadvantages. The customer sees a longer queue and has the impression that it is going to exist more waiting time. Also because of the design problems, because it usually has a labyrinth shape and when it is empty you have to go a long way. Neither some companies, like McDonalds, are interested because you do not have enough vision to see their ads on the panels (so probably you are not going to see the newest expensive burger which they want you buy). It also happens that customers can be distracted while they wait their turn and do not realise when it is their turn (time and efficiency are lost – a server is unoccupied). On the other hand, as is the case with Carrefour, they send you to a server that is still occupied and makes you angry (but they do that in order to the server does not have to wait).

You can control the queues.

It was something that really surprised me, I have never considered it before.

I remember when I went to Aquopolis with my family and I thought: oh my god, we just went through a ticket office to pay for parking, in order to park our car all day (by the way, we waited a lot in a long queue) and again another queue more! This time for buy tickets to enter to Aquopolis… why not sell everything in the first ticket office? They are stupid! I thought. But no. They were not. They were trying to control the line, in order to not saturated the parking lot and the aquapark. The time that people takes until enter is the time to other people need to get out.

Professor José Pedro put another example that also surprised me: in the cities there are also queues to enter and they are controlled. In Valencia there are three entrances and many times they close one to avoid what is known as “Napolitan queue”: collapse the center of the city. They can also use the speed limits method and it is regulated daily (this is not widespread yet, but it will!).

Other methods of control (as we saw in class and we work with) was, the one of the case of Apple. Apple give appointments and teach how to use the web to buy without go to the stores, and because of that they reduce the variability of queues. They also influence perception: they leave you watching a video while they go to the store and thus you do not feel that you are waiting.

I also have found a video that I think is intersting to complete my article:

What do you think? Feel free to comment! THANKS

Lecture notes! (I know. I take many notes in class, in Spanish there is an expression that is “ser un escribano” 😛 )!!)
BTW, apologize for my English 😦

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