Waiting is perhaps the biggest annoyance there is. As a child, the days until your birthday seemed to last forever, but as an adult we also experience frustration when we have to wait a long time in the dental practice or at a traffic light. But why do we think it’s so bad? And how can you best deal with this?

Time to dive into the psychology of waiting. According to various studies, we spend an average of about five years in our precious lives waiting in a row. On the bus, in amusement parks, in front of the traffic light or in the supermarket.

Perceived wait times feel longer than actual wait times.

For customers, seeing a physically long queue is often a problem. They give up or get irritated. Even if the queue actually turns out to be moving quickly.

If we can avoid waiting, we will. For example, we prefer to make a detour than to be stuck in a traffic jam. And the self-scan cash registers in supermarkets, where we can scan our groceries ourselves, don’t even yield that much. Still, we choose to gain some seconds. Well, at least you’re not waiting.

Used time seems to go faster than unused time

At airports, the route from the gate to the baggage claim is often deliberately made longer than necessary. Passengers thus spend their time walking from the gate to the baggage claim, rather than waiting at the belt for their baggage to arrive.

The time between getting out and picking up the luggage has not become shorter, but the experience has. Because where they normally stood twiddling their thumbs at the baggage claim and saw their fellow passengers, who only traveled with hand luggage, walk out, they now had to wait much less long.

Queues are bad marketing for your business

According to Ad Pruyn , professor of marketing communication and consumer behavior at the Technical University of Twente, the annoyance about waiting is like an oil slick that continues to spread. Pruyn is one of the few Dutch professors to have conducted research into the psychological aspects of waiting. In 1993 he already wrote about the changing society in which waiting is really a no go.

When it comes to customer satisfaction, it’s no secret that long wait times should be avoided at all costs. Yet you may think: ‘but queues can also make a company appear ‘wanted’, right? A fishmonger with a three-hour queue around Christmas time must be good. Because apparently the customers are willing to wait?

Nevertheless, Pruyn does not recommend keeping customers waiting. According to him, it is an important aspect of customer satisfaction because it is the very first impression a customer gets of a company. The negative feeling people get from waiting is very decisive. It also influences how people experience the rest of your shift. When and how long do you let them pick their noses?

It’s about the experience of waiting

What do you do while waiting? Where are you? What do you see? Do you have a drink and are you in nice company, while you wait for your food? Or do you have to stand in a line that moves a little bit each time? Or are you sitting in a boring waiting room with your phone that you’ve already checked ten times.

So the way you wait can determine the experience. For that reason, it can be good to give customers something to do while waiting. Free wifi, interesting puzzles, nice magazines to read. Although the struggle for customers remains that they often do not know how long it will take.

Customers want to know where they stand

According to Colin Shaw, customer experience expert, the insecure aspect of waiting is what customers hate most. It is often not easy for companies to give a time indication.

There are 10 more waiting for you. If the customers all have short questions, it may be your turn within half an hour… but what if everyone comes for an extensive consultation? A package is delivered within 1-4 days. There is quite a difference, will you get it tomorrow… or only at the end of the week? On the day itself you will receive a message that you can expect your order between 12:00 and 18:00. Well, that’s not very desirable. Do you have to stay home for this?

Sequential number systems give customers in stores a certain indication and ensure that they cannot be pushed ahead (another major frustration while waiting, according to Colin Shaw), but customers are still often wasting time in the boring waiting area. Because with the classic number device, you are still expected to stay close. And you have to, to see when it’s the next one’s turn.

Customers want freedom

Freedom to wait where they want. Freedom to use their time as they wish. Freedom means a choice. The choice to do nothing or to make good use of the time. In a society where everything has to go faster, faster, faster, freedom is an important aspect. The customer can use the time efficiently if he or she wants to.

The experience of waiting is now in the hands of the customer. The customer can choose whether he or she uses the time or leaves it unused. Because there was no good solution that responded to all these facets, the young entrepreneur Dewi Knaapen came up with the digital queuing tool Whoonext . From now on, you no longer have to wait in a boring waiting area or standing in a physical line. You no longer wait while you’re bored, but while you continue shopping, make some phone calls or take a walk in the neighborhood.


With Whoonext , companies give their customers ultimate freedom and take away the biggest annoyance of waiting. The perceived wait time will feel shorter when customers have the freedom to come and go as they please. The waiting time feels and is therefore no longer unused. The experience of the queue improves considerably, because customer satisfaction benefits. And perhaps the most pleasant: customers know where they stand.

Are you curious about the possibilities with Whoonext? Please do not hesitate to contact us.