KS&R Blogs

lvandyke@ksrinc.com

Black Friday is nearly here. If you don't already know, Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving when stores kick-off the holiday shopping season.

There are multiple theories about the origin of the name "Black Friday". Some believe the Philadelphia Police Department first used the term in referring to the massive traffic jams that clogged downtown streets as shoppers headed out for special deals and deep discounts. Others say it is the day of the year that retailers who have been unprofitable change to being profitable, or "in the black."

Either way, from camping out overnight in parking lots, to the frenzy of shoppers pushing as doors open at the crack of dawn, Black Friday is famous for incredible door busters and long lines that stretch around the block.

KS&R's extensive work in support of the "optimal customer experience" for our clients reveals that the experiences customers have waiting in line significantly impact their perceptions of the services being provided - and ultimately, the brand.

Standing in line for longer-than-desired can cause boredom, frustration, anxiety, and even rage - even if the transaction that follows is efficient, courteous and satisfactory.

However, our research also reveals a great deal of consensus about the ways in which retailers can extend customers' wait time tolerances – and make them feel better about the wait:

  • Inform the customer how long the wait time will be
  • Use technology to make wait time informative, entertaining
  • Enforce "fair play" -- first come, first served
  • Ensure an appropriate level of staffing, particularly during peak business hours
  • Make sure that employees appear fully engaged in serving customers
  • Apologize for the inconvenience of the wait; customers tend to be more forgiving when employees are genuinely sorry for the inconvenience

Real "no-no's" that exacerbate the frustrations of waiting in line include sales staff who are socializing, performing non-critical work tasks, and/or are rude, not knowledgeable.

As for me, as I create my "game plan" for Black Friday (making gift lists, checking retail ads, etc), I'll put aside my usual "pain threshold" for wait times and just embrace it as "le sport" and part of the experience!

All the best,
Lynne Van Dyke


Lynnette S. Van Dyke
Principal, Founding Partner

Lynne Van Dyke

Lynne leads KS&R's Qualitative Center of Excellence, and specializes in brand imagery, creative ideation and motivational research applied to marketing. She is a nationally recognized Master Moderator, and has conducted more than 3,500 focus groups and interviewed more than 40,000 people in groups and individually. Lynne holds an MA and BA from Ohio University, and certification in education. She has extensive training in group dynamics and projective methods. Lynne is known for applying creative research techniques to identify and deliver the “big ideas” for brand development and strategic planning.