Should you let your Customers cut in line?

Kellogg School of Management

Yes, Gad Allon and Eran Hanany found that cutting in line can actually be “beneficial to the [operational] system and its customers in the long run”.  Please note particularly:

“It’s an everyday occurrence in a fast-paced world. A person rushes up to an orderly queue and asks—or demands—to be allowed to cut in for a plausible reason. Sometimes the request succeeds; at other times it does not.”

“Our main message is that the phenomenon can be explained on the basis of rational behavior and operational dynamics,” Allon explains. “We basically show that there are systems in which cutting in line—and letting others cut in—is a social norm that can actually be beneficial to the system and its customers in the long run.

The stimulus for the project came several years ago when Allon prepared a talk on the applicability of his research to Israel. “One of the things that came to my mind was the term people use in Israel to signal that they have an urgent request or require only a little time from the service provider,” he recalls. “People will usually say to the other queue-dwellers that they ‘only have a quick question’.” He and Hanany “realized that this is a fairly common behavior in different parts of the world,” Allon continues. “People in airport security queues may ask to cut the line to avoid missing their flights. Similar behavior is observed in Europe when in line for train tickets.”

About Arie Goldshlager

Customer Insight, Customer Strategy, and Innovation Consultant
This entry was posted in Customer Experience, Customer Service. Bookmark the permalink.

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