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Why is the Queue Out the Door?

Jun 25, 2008
I was in town around lunch time the other day, after a business meeting, and on the stroll back to my car walked past the Post Office and a variety of different banks. I couldn't help but notice what they all had in common: Queues out the door!

It got me thinking. What are these people doing? Why are they wasting so much of their precious time standing in queues? Why, in the 21st Century are so many folks still fighting the crowds and rushing around paying bills during their lunch hour? Personally, I'd rather be relaxing over a cappuccino and a good book.

A possible reason could of course be that there is insufficient staff around to cope with customer demand. We've all been at the bank, the post office, or even the supermarket and never seen every single checkout / teller/cashier position manned. It always feels like they all go to lunch the same time we do!

However I lean more strongly towards another reason for all the queues: Customer resistance to using the alternatives.

Humans are creatures of habit. If we've always done things a certain way, we unconsciously do them on autopilot time and time again. So we have always gone in to the bank to pay our bills. We always go to the post office to buy our stamps or to pay our Road Tax. We take 3 hours on a Saturday to do our grocery shopping. Newsflash: If we keep going to busy places at busy times and rejecting the alternatives, we will keep having to stand in queues!

By the way: our whole philosophy here at Zee2A is to challenge conventional wisdom and find better and smarter ways of doing things. Read more at http://www.zee2a.com/aboutus.html.

So are there smarter alternatives to standing in queues at the bank, the post office, or the supermarket? Yes, yes, and yes again!

The Bank

I can tell you honestly, that I never go to the bank anymore. Trust me, spending almost a decade and a half working with or for banks, I've spent more than my fair share of time inside. I also spent so much of that time trying to educate customers on the alternatives, but I have never come across so much resistance in all my life.

There truly is very little real need to stand in a queue at the bank - just about anything you'll ever need to do, can be done another way.

*Paying bills? No problem, just set up a direct debit or standing order and you're set. There's no need to keep an eye on the calendar either, and you'll never make another late payment again. Many companies even give you discounts for paying this way. (Bonus!)

*One-off payments? Mail a cheque or pay by card over the telephone.

*Need cash? Use the ATM - plus, most UK banks allow you to withdraw funds from any other bank's ATM at no charge. You can even get 'cash back' when you pay for your shopping at most supermarkets.

*Need to pay-in money? Use the ATM (cheques or notes only, not coins); or put your deposit in a sealed envelope and drop into the deposit box normally located near the queuing area, or through the mail slot at the bank after hours.

*If you haven't signed up to use your bank's online or telephone banking service yet, what on Earth are you waiting for?

Most banks will allow you to apply for a loan, an overdraft, or a credit card online or via their telephone banking service. Most will even allow you to transfer funds to an account overseas at the click of a button. I strongly suggest that you visit your bank's website for full information and to apply for these services. See - you don't even have to go in to the branch to do that!

(Are you concerned about using these alternatives and the growing threat of Identity Theft? Learn how to protect yourself by reading our e-book available as a free download to subscribers. If you aren't a subscriber yet go to http://www.zee2a.com/freestuff.html and sign up - you will be taken to the Download area after verifying your subscription.)

The Post Office

Do you know that you really don't need to spend time standing in a line at the post office anymore?

If you are one of those people who queues for ages waiting to renew your road tax, for heaven's sake do it online! For the last few years I have renewed mine via the DVLA secure website. I pay by card, and the new disk arrives within a week.

I don't even buy stamps at the Post Office anymore. I either buy them with my groceries at the supermarket, or use the nifty facility on the Royal Mail website where I can buy postage online and print it directly on to the envelopes!

Even International Driving Permits, Passport and Drivers Licence Renewals can all be applied for either online or by mail if you don't leave things to the last minute.

The Supermarket

There are three ways that I habitually do my shopping these days, and my choice depends whether I'm buying a small basketful or an entire trolley's worth. If I am only picking up a handful of items, I absolutely love the fact that I can use the self-service checkout that most supermarkets have begun installing.

If I have more time on my hands and want to do a 'proper' shop, I use the Self-Scanners available. I scan the barcodes as I choose the items and pack them straight into my shopping bag. I even get a preferred checkout where all I do is hand over the scanner and my means of payment, and voila!

When I'm pushed for time, or perhaps want a bulk shop without the hassle of pushing a heavy trolley and packing and unpacking the car, then online shopping is the winner. For a nominal charge I can upload my shopping list and have my shopping delivered at an agreed timeslot. The driver is even courteous enough to bring the shopping straight in to my kitchen, with a smile.

I can't tell you how many stress-free hours I have saved myself over the last few years by just exploring and then using the alternatives available to me. I would much rather my precious time be used in a more productive way!

©Vanessa Deakin and Zee2A Limited 2008.

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About the Author
Vanessa Deakin, Operations Director at Zee2A, works with Professional Service Executives frustrated and disappointed with their current growth rates, marketing efforts and business profitability. She helps them to skyrocket their results and break their own best records. To learn more or sign up for her e-zine, please visit www.zee2A.com.
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