A thought, an experiment, around distracting people to ease the burden of waiting.

“In the early industrial age, buildings began to spring up all over the east coast. Many of these new buildings were taller than anything ever built before and most had elevators. As buildings got taller and taller, more people began to use elevators. Elevators in those days were pretty darn slow. People were constantly complaining about how slow the elevators were.

Elevator companies were challenged with this problem and came up with the typical problem statement elevators move too slow. So they went off to design elevators that were faster and safer, but at the time it was very expensive to do so. Several companies went off and running to build a safer and faster elevator, and one elevator company proposed a different problem statement. They may have had a different name for the approach, but they were using the fundamentals of the best problem statement tool. One engineer said, I think our elevator speeds are just fine, people are crazy.

Then an engineer proposed that they work on a different problem statement. He proposed that the problem was people think elevators move to slow. He inserted two words people think into the problem statement which allowed the design team to approach the problem from a completely different angle and thus a whole new set of ideas. Instead of concentrating on larger motors, slicker pulley designs and such, they concentrated on the passenger in the elevator.

When they looked at the problem from this angle, the ideas started to snowball. Is it really too slow? Why do they think it is slow? How can we distract them? How can we make it more comfortable? Are customers scared of heights?

This lead to some first hand customer research. They found that a lot of people thought the elevators were a lot slower then they actually were.


In the first full week of October, customer-oriented organizations and institutions around the world recognize the importance of customer service excellence to their organizations by celebrating customer service week. I was reminded of this by the number of emails I got and by the cool cowboy/girl look that the staffs of FCMB(my bank)had on Thursday as I stepped into the bank to make a request.

While I was waiting to be attended to I decided to check if there’s free wifi, I didn’t want to put on my mobile data — I guess I like looking for free things. I saw there was ‘free’ wifi and connected to it — by the way, connecting to public wifi without proper protection (VPN) isn’t a good idea, I was a bit sceptical as to what would happen next as there’s rarely anything that’s free, then I was stopped halfway by a page. There it was, a page that showed that I could only access FCMB related sites and platforms.

I wasn’t too surprised, then I asked myself who set up this page and what was the rationale behind putting this up, from a personal standpoint anyone who comes here must have most likely come to perform an action that couldn’t be performed online.

What do people use public wifi for? Some don’t use it — remember it’s not safe, some use it because they don’t have an alternative source of internet at the moment, they need to check up on what’s happening online or communicate. And some just like like to use free things.

If you’re thinking about providing a service for customers, then you should consider the use cases.

I’d give room for a tiny fraction of people who use the bank’s free wifi to actually perform bank-related services but then I also think more people would appreciate free wifi that can enable people to do the basic things they want to do.


Back to the story about Elevators

They also discovered that people had an exaggerated sense of time because they had nothing to do but stare at the wall and think about the safety of the elevator being suspended in the air, and preoccupied with the fear of falling.

There was the need for room and additional equipment of any sort, so they brainstormed on that. This lead to the idea of mirrors in elevators so people would think about something else besides danger. Was their hair combed properly? Did her makeup look okay?

By installing mirrors in the elevators, people became distracted and were no longer preoccupied with the fear of falling. On a follow up survey, customers commented how much faster the new elevators were even though the speed was exactly the same. The elevator design itself had not changed at all.”

Why do lifts/elevators have mirrors by Kofikab Payne on Quora


People tend to use things that they don’t pay for a longer period of time and maybe without regard, so there should be measures to curb abuse. A random thought occurred to me as that proper free wifi’s could be the equivalent to relieving waiting time of what mirrors were to elevators

I might not notice how long I have to wait in the bank or for an order because there’s free wifi.

In some situations processes can’t be faster, How can organisations reduce/relieve the burden of waiting? Any ideas? Any personal stories you’d like to share? I’d like to hear them.

 

Featured Image: “woman holding blush emoticon during daytime” by rawpixel on Unsplash

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