Effects of waiting on the satisfaction with the service: Beyond objective time measures
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A major concern for service managers is to counteract negative effects of waiting. In this study, the effects of objective waiting time and waiting environment on satisfaction with the service were investigated. Two elements of the waiting environment were distinguished: the attractiveness of the waiting room and the presence of television (TV) as an explicit distracter. The mediating role of three subjective variables (perceived waiting time, acceptable waiting time and the (cognitive and affective) appraisal of the wait) was explored. Waiting appears to influence satisfaction quite strongly. The adverse effects of waiting can be soothed more effectively by improving the attractiveness of the waiting environment than by shortening the objective waiting time. Objective waiting time influences satisfaction mainly via a cognitive route: through perceived waiting time (in minutes) and the long/short judgment of the wait. Perceived attractiveness of the waiting environment operates mainly through affect, and thus serves as a mood inducer. The acceptable waiting time appears to be a critical point of reference, since surpassing it provokes strong affective responses. Although the presence of TV did not result in the expected effect of distraction, the tendency to watch it was found to be dependent on the length of the wait (and thus, boredom).