Customer waiting lines are a fact of life that every service manager must address. Even with manufacturing companies, as technoloqy in the form of the Internet brings customer closer to the factory, customer waiting issues take on increasing importance with respect t'( product .delivery and subsequent customer service support. Dell computer provides a good example of this. Waiting lines occur whencustomer interact directly with a process. Waiting linescan take various forms: from waiting in line to be seated at" a restaurant, to waiting in the checkout line at the supermarket, to waiting on the telephone to request service for a product that you purchased. Waiting also can take place on the Internet, whether it is to conduct a stock transaction, or to get your checking account balance from your . bank, or to buy a book at Amazon.com.
Virtually every day we spend much of our time waiting in lines of one form or another. On our way to work in the morning, we wait in line to pay the toll on the turnpike and wait in line to park our car. If we take public transportation, we wait for the bus or the train. We wait for our coffee at our favorite morning eatery, we wait forthe elevator to take us up to our office-and all of this happens before we even start work! As seen in Exhibit 11.1, we spend a good deal of our time II airing in lines. Managers. need to properly manage these waiting times to ensure not only that their operations are efficient, but also that their customers are not so negatively affected by thewait that they take their future business elsewhere. To accomplish this. managers need to recognize that good waiting line management consists of two major components: the actual waiting time itself and the customer's perceived waiting time, The determination of actual waiting times is presented in the supplement to thi-, chapter. which focuses on queuing theory and mathematical waiting line models for a of service deliver) system configurations. Improving the level of customer satisfaction by managing the customer's perceix ed aiting time is the primary focus of this chapter. Understanding how customer sati-faction can be increased for a given waiting time provides service managers with an opportunity for managing their operations more effectively.