Explicit Waiting...


Episode description

In this first “long-form” episode of the Service Design Principles podcast, we explore how the perception of time influences people’s experiences of waiting. We use examples such as train journeys and elevator lobbies to illustrate how changing the environment or offering distractions can alter perceptions of waiting time.

Then we go into the concept of ‘cooling-off’ periods in various contexts, like medical decisions and major purchases, emphasising the need for waiting in certain decision-making processes.

The conversation shifts to practical strategies in customer service, focusing on modern solutions like callback options in hotlines and designing more thoughtful on-hold experiences. We highlight the importance of transparency and communication in setting realistic expectations and providing clear information to enhance customer satisfaction.

We talk about the potential of using waiting time creatively, suggesting that waiting periods can be transformed into opportunities for education and engagement, offering examples where waiting time is utilised to provide informative content or entertainment.

The role of smartphones in waiting scenarios is also discussed. We acknowledge the prevalent and almost addictive use of mobile devices but suggest that allowing phone usage in waiting areas can be beneficial.

We then conclude that waiting can actually have a strategic value in service design. When managed appropriately, waiting can be an integral and constructive part of the service experience.


  • 00:00 Welcome
  • 00:29 Today’s Episode - Waiting
  • 01:47 The role of perception
  • 03:44 Cooling off periods
  • 07:12 How can we make make waiting more tolerable
  • 10:09 Small courtesies
  • 13:00 Some classic examples of changing perceptions
  • 15:25 A mental framework for waiting
  • 18:59 Under Promise, Over Deliver
  • 20:24 Waiting time isn’t just about waiting time.
  • 25:19 SDP 18 and 19 - Smartphones and waiting
  • 30:30 Why are we waiting?
  • 34:42 Waiting can encourage people to learn to fish, instead of just getting fish handed to them
  • 37:15 Waiting as a brand decision
  • 41:20 Outro

Rory Sutherland TED talk: https://www.ted.com/talks/rory_sutherland_life_lessons_from_an_ad_man

New York Times article on increasing walking times at Houston airport reduced complaints about luggage delivery times: https://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/19/opinion/sunday/why-waiting-in-line-is-torture.html (Sorry for the paywall - this was the earliest source I could find for this)

Interested in the book, Service Design Principles 1-100? Check out the special offer just for podcast listeners.

Support us with Value 4 Value

Find out more about “Value 4 Value” here: https://value4value.info/

Time - rate us on your preferred podcast platform, write a review, or submit your own service design principles or insights into the SDP in the books.

Talent - Help promote the podcast on social media, produce some incidental music for the show, or suggest a way your talents can help.

Treasure - use a modern podcast app to send us boost-a-grams or streaming value. We’ll recognize all contributions and comments in future episodes. Alternatively, make a traditional donation via Ko-Fi to help us cover our hosting and production costs.

Get a modern podcast app: https://modernpodcastapps.com/

Traditional donation: https://ko-fi.com/neoluxpodcasts https://www.paypal.com/donate/?hosted_button_id=KCP8BRUHP3HZS

Daniele Catalanotto is a service design practitioner, the author of the Service Design Principles series of books, and the founder of the Swiss Innovation Academy

Guy Martin has worked with global companies and startups in a wide range of roles, including service delivery, corporate education, and leadership development.

Music by Mikhail Smusev from Pixabay

Thanks to Castopod, a Podcasting 2.0 and ActivityPub enabled host, for their support.

A production of Neolux Consulting