The Week: Best of the blogs - Living at the speed of web

Like the late Alan Clarke, who "would not queue for anything under any circumstances", I am driven practically insane by the time-wasting procedures of many service industries.

Here's something every service industry needs to know; my annoyance will become less and less rare in the next ten years. Why? Because one effect the internet has had on all of us, but disproportionately more on the younger among us, is that our expectations of immediacy and speed of response have been transformed.

When you are accustomed to living life at an online pace, you live in a world where every action results in an immediate response. This impatience, this expectation of instantaneous reaction, is high among the younger generation. When they send an e-mail or text, they are reduced to complete befuddlement if they do not get an answer within 20 minutes. They start e-mailing and texting incessantly. To older clients, this is unbelievably annoying. To the young, this is normal.

The expert on this is David Maister, and his basic principles of queueing are to be found at Another great book to read on this subject is Traffic by Tom Vanderbilt. He adds some superb insights into the psychology of traffic jams and why they are so frustrating.

These are worth reading, especially in a recession. After all, by streamlining service, it's possible to reduce the cost of your service dramatically without reducing the price at all.


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