This article first appeared in Campaign Middle East written by, Junior Gonzalez, Senior Strategist at Imagination Dubai.
Somebody patient is not just patient - it’s somebody who sacrifices. They sacrifice their time, their attention, and by default, their money. And user patience has a direct impact on every single experience with any level of waiting involved.
But what does ‘user patience’ mean, really? Well, it depends on who you ask.
For a movie watcher, it’s waiting for the plot twist.
For a gamer, it’s grinding patiently to max out your stats.
Even for a citizen, it’s waiting for the laws of your country to change.
In the world of brands, destinations and experiences - what does user patience look like?
If you are queuing, it’s on purpose.
When you wait in line, somebody (a company, agency, or venue) designed it to be that way. And if they didn’t, and you are still waiting in line, you are forced to be patient by omission.
People have varying degrees of patience depending on what they are waiting for. Waiting a few minutes for a product to load on a retail app would be absurd, but waiting a couple of minutes in a store for a brand ambassador to come and guide your group through the experience is within reason. It’s all about context and perspective.
Americans spend about 37 billion hours waiting in line every year and Brits spend over a year waiting in shop queues over their lifetimes. So you can see why it has never been more important that the queueing experience offers value for both the businesses and customers. So where should brands start?
Three ways to incorporate user patience into your brand experiences
Embrace the ‘beta launch’ of an event / experience
There’s a lot of pressure on agencies and experiential consultants to ‘deliver perfectly’ from the get-go - leaving little room for iteration and prototyping. But similar to how some films end up having re-shoots after private demo screenings - it would be beneficial to test the ‘betas’ of an experiential marketing campaign before rolling out the full product - gaining rich insights that wouldn’t be accessible in controlled ‘lab’ settings.
At our Dubai office in Imagination, we are currently building an Innovation Lab that aims to be a region-leading part of our digital transformation offer, hosting key technologies in both current-gen experiences and integrating Web3 tools into customer experiences.
It’s always in progress, and it can always be improved
With more patience leaves more time to measure what works and what doesn’t. It'll always be a ‘one-off’ if the performance of your activation or experience isn’t measured - there’s no way to tell how successful a spend was or wasn’t.
Implementing iteration into experiences will allow brands to do two things: make the initial investment more valuable as it’s not a one-off cost but something more gradual that gives increasing returns across time, and create a mould that can be used in the future, taking a ‘toolkit’ approach that allows for smartly applied repeat value.
XPKit, Imagination’s proprietary measuring and tracking technology for live experiences, is a pillar of our delivery of live events, allowing us to accurately pinpoint guest and customer behaviours across prolonged periods of time.
Leverage sneak previews and exclusivity
Tap into the audience's shared sense of being able to ‘trial’ or ‘demo’ something unreleased or still being developed. Everybody wants to feel like they are seeing something nobody has seen before and that a brand thought of them to try it out first, valuing their input and opinion.
Reward people for their feedback, and outsource the stress testing of a brand experience to your end user before it is actually rolled out. It’s a dual exchange - the agency and client get rich insights and valuable testing data, and the customer gets the excitement of being part of something bigger with minimal effort.
Electronic Arts Playtesting routinely hosts Closed Betas of their most popular franchises, where you can play unfinished versions of their games. The most cynical critics loathe this approach - they are getting avid fans to troubleshoot for free for thousands of hours. However, a sense of exclusivity and ‘seeing it before anybody’ is quite a powerful incentive.
We are not going to stop queuing any time soon - but we can make the queuing or wait time worthwhile to teach users, brands and clients to be more patient. Be it through an improved outcome or experience. For brands - the waiting game is quite literally a space they can take advantage of, creating pockets of value in an otherwise redundant space.
And if anything - good things come to those who wait, or at least, better experiences do.