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BBC – Capital – The big problem with short queues

If you are worth a lot of money for Banorte, one of the largest banks in Mexico, you will know as soon as you enter one of their 900 branches. Once you arrive with your credit card, staff receive a message that you are in the building – and that you are a priority. Follow the assistant who congratulates you – oh no, do not worry, you do NOT have to wait in line with everyone else.

This is possible thanks to the technology made by Wavetec, a specialist in "tail management systems". Wavetec customers increasingly want ways to prioritize special or high-quality customers so that services can be tailored to them. This means special treatment for the chosen ones.

This can be done by touching a credit card, but Wavetec also experimented with other tools. For example, Bluetooth can be used to pinpoint the phones of people running on business so that staff know when the customer with high value is nearby. You may like:


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, right? "says Deputy Chief Executive Tobias Besonne. "The question is whether people will accept it or not."

But that's the problem. Not everyone is enthusiastic about raising a "priority queue" or "quick tracking," which sometimes involves paying an additional fee for skipping the main queue. The concept is perceived as an American phenomenon, but is now spreading around the world. Tears can be effectively missed everywhere – from airport security to music festivals. Just buy a quick access ticket or a VIP access pass

In 2017, Guardian columnist Julian Baggini wrote that this is a conquest of "the culture of money negotiations". While he claims that tails have never been as egalitarian as he looked – the rich have always been treated differently – the priority queues simply mean that money makes what class they used;

However, priority access continues to appear in more and more places. It has been reserved for theme parks, especially for Disneyland in the United States or for Alton Towers in the UK, where the more expensive entry ticket will allow visitors to miss the main queues for trips. Foreclosure in banks – even in Santa Claus cave – suggests that the idea is already widespread in some countries.

There may be legal tales about the priority queues in certain contexts. Constitutional lawyer Andrew Le Seuur argues that the ability to pay for the rapid tracking of the UK border when entering the country seems to be contrary to human rights principles with regard to passengers. "Faster and more personal decisions must not be bought and sold by the state," says Le Seur. "Governmental services aside, priority queues often have a lot of meaning," says Ayleet Fischach, a behavioral scientist at Business School at Chicago University

Fischbach says giving priority access line allows people to choose what resource to use to get to the front – time or money. For many people, time is more valuable than money, so the opportunity to pass money to save time is beneficial.

And customers who do not actually use the accelerated access option can still turn out to be the pink picture of customer service for the business – until the main queue is not forever. "She communicates good service, even if people give up," Fischbach says.

She also argues that in many situations queue increases the perceived value of a product or service. Sometimes it's not good – no one counts waiting for two hours at the post office just to send a plot.

But elsewhere people like to hug tails. Recently, thousands waited for a night in London to buy two coaches as soon as they started selling – the shoes cost 180 pounds and were designed by none other than Kanye West. Strikers of street wear are increasingly laughing with the release of new products in this way – and people seem to like to queue for what is called a "drop".

This is a form of a recreative tail if you wish. It's friendship and expectation in one. What makes waiting for hours to enter the Wimbledon tennis championship is not only a pleasant but also a source of national pride.

Any business thinking about offering a priority queue should consider whether it makes sense for a particular brand – quick access to something people actually want? Or can it undermine and complicate the entire purchase experience?

Nick Carroll, Associate Director of Retail at Market Analysts Mintel, points out that in the context of grocery shopping, tails continue to annoy customers – 24% are not satisfied with waiting times in supermarkets.

Various ways to avoid lines in such places are now being tested. "There is a particular interest in what Sainsbury is moving forward in terms of self-scanning a basket through a smartphone," says Carroll. More than half of people aged 16 to 34 believe that such technology should be more accessible in grocery stores, he added.

As with the 10 priority orders, this is a way to categorize customers to try to improve their flow through a retail system. But the harder question remains when people can simply pay a fee to move faster through this system. That's what seems to be annoying a lot.

Does the phenomenon dictate a two-tier society? It seems the answer is yes – but the columnist Baggini points out that the two-tier society has always existed. Is the money-replacing class a problem? It depends on who you ask.

"These are just market forces that are gradually taking on a lot," explains Dick Larson of MIT, a queuing expert who goes under Que Queue.

He also points out that the experience of the people in the queue is not necessarily all they spend in it. The more important, it turns out, is what happens while they are waiting for you. It is well known that mirrors have been fitted to elevators in many New York skyscrapers during the post-war era to reduce waiting times. Instead of irritating their fingers, office workers and hotel guests could see their appearance. Waiting times, which remained unchanged, dropped.

Spending a slightly longer line can only be seen as unfair if the experience spent by that time feels uncomfortable.

There is another way to look at all this. Take the idea that the tails are old-fashioned. With technology and an improved understanding of what customers want and when they want it, an interesting question may arise: why should anyone wait in line?

Tiffany Fontaine, vice president of Gartner's marketing analytics firm, points to the example of Apple stores, where customers who need a technician to look at a broken iPod or Mac can book a meeting before traveling to the city.

"It's sort of a quick tracking, but it's more prevention – before you arrive at the store, let's make sure the line is not there," says Fountain.

Whether scanning groceries while you shop so you can pay on the move or instantly manage bank payments online instead of waiting to do it in the branch physically standing in line to achieve something looks more and more archaic . The outlines will surely never disappear completely – as mentioned above, there are times when we actually use them. But we probably all share the creeping understanding that the queue is often superfluous. If the X business or the Y service just organized better, we would not have to stay here for so long, would we?

Priority queues and fast lanes are perhaps just money-making schemes. But they are schemes that nevertheless correspond to our nagging that most of the time is a doping queue. To comment on this story or something else you've seen on BBC Capital, please contact our Facebook page or message Twitter .

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