Which Country is Winning the War on Eliminating Time-Wasting Waits?

Mr. Andy Kessler wrote an article in Wall Street Journal earlier this week which caught my attention. The article was named “Don’t Tread on Me—or Make Me Stand in Line”. In the article Mr. Kessler point out some pretty important facts as to how technology the last 20 years has increased productivity and that the queue-quashing has just begun. He is definitely right on that point.

The subject Mr. Kessler brings up is of great importance. It’s about valuing peoples time, it’s about providing great service and it’s ultimately about great customer experiences. Mr. Kessler’s hypothesis is the following: “Americans will put up with just about anything—except for waiting in line”.

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Is this really true?

I work for a company that is the world’s leading supplier of systems to liberate people from standing in line. We have a quarter of the world’s population passing through one of our systems every year, in more than 100 countries including the US. So, I speak with a bit of confidence that I know something on the subject on a global basis. In fact I recently wrote a blog post on the subject called “This is why you stand in line – and why you hate it”.

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These are some of the points made in Mr. Kessler’s article:

  • Europeans seem to relish a chance to wait.
  • The underlying technology of line avoidance is a great American success story
  • Sometimes it seems like the only lines left in America are at airport security

The frontier in thought leadership and technology development to eliminate waiting in line is not currently residing in the US. Already 30 years ago, the first virtual queuing system (same principle as Disney is using) was invented by a Swedish restaurant owner wanting to provide exceptional experience to his guests and to eliminate waiting lines.

So, contrary to Mr. Kessler’s view I would suggest that Americans stand in line too much to get service and they too often accept it. I think that Americans should do even more to put pressure on decisions makers to introduce market leading solutions that value their time better.  I also suggest that decisions makers at service providing companies should be more open to well established, modern solutions that will help them, in the age of the customer, to provide excellent service and experiences.

Just to take on example, the European country Sweden where I currently live is probably the market leading country in the world regarding supermarket automatic check-outs. They have also since many years something called the 24 hrs eGovernment; I can do almost everything online including my tax reporting, the national Hospital systems is connected and I can electronically book a time online, I can look at my medical journals, I can review my medical prescriptions and buy the medicine online. And get it shipped home. The concept of DMV doesn’t even exist.

In Sweden you will also find solutions for virtual queuing and mobile solutions not only at amusements parks, but at major retail chains, banks, major hospitals and government offices – including the US Embassy :-) A similar development can be found in many countries in the world.

The really strong drive in this area currently comes from countries such as Dubai, Qatar and Kuwait. Also Scandinavia, Netherlands, Russia, South Africa and Singapore are countries where we see a lot of activities. We do also see very good signs in the US through our team there, so our ambition is to drive hard to make Mr. Kessler’s hypothesis become reality.

The hate of wasting time in line is not a US phenomenon. It’s universal. Let’s join global forces to liberate us from this so we can spend the time on more important matters.

Image Courtesy of Qmatic

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