Dorak Dorak
Chapter 02: Queueing and Waiting in Lines: Realizing the Economic Effects

Chapter 02: Queueing and Waiting in Lines: Realizing the Economic Effects

Humanity has appreciated time since its conception, being the most valuable and the one commodity that cannot be replaced or renewed by any means

Humanity has appreciated time since its conception, being the most valuable and the one commodity that cannot be replaced or renewed by any means, and this deeply built-in sense led to humans instinctively dreading anything that wastes time, especially if this waste comes with pain and uncertain anticipation, a matter most resembled by waiting in queues. 


The Science Behind Queueing Models

The science of Queueing – as a matter of fact- is a topic in mathematics, it started in the early 1900s, and given its importance, it developed its own branch under probability, mostly based and started by the pioneering work of work of Agner Krarup Erlang, and its concepts are based on the probability theory in which mathematical models of different types of actual queues are studied.  

Erlang developed his interest in the field from his work in the Danish Telephone Exchange company, he was estimating telephone exchange needs, from a capacity point of view, where he modeled the calls activities, and developed 3 formulas, 2 of which are still used today, his method led the telephone company for a revolution in service, a customer who finds all servers busy, waits in queue until a server is available, instead having to cut off the call or get a busy tone.1



The Economic Impact

Realizing the economic impact of queueing and understanding queues, organizations slowly and steadily developed queueing management as a study field pivotal for operations research, an element that can greatly affect an organization`s profit and loss.

One of the most elements that affect the customer′s overall satisfaction with the service encounter is queueing. Although a substantial amount of effort and money is usually invested in approaches to increase customer satisfaction, we don’t see much being invested on this critical element that could significantly harm businesses.

A customer′s level of satisfaction with queueing or waiting affects their perception on the entire way they see the service, especially with big and professional companies, or public entities, where a high level of organization is expected from customers.

several researches identified several factors which can affect a customer′s perception of waiting and consequently their satisfaction with that wait. Mark Davis and Janelle Heineke propose that the organization`s ability to control the customer′s perception of the queuing experience is of high importance, and studies which factors can or cannot be controlled by the organization and suggests tactics for managing queues for each category of factors, all elements emphasizing the importance of managing queues, to avoid the inevitable losses that result from unmanaged waiting lines. 2


Long unorganized queues, who is harmed?

First, customers: an unpleasant experience usually means a lost customer, especially with the ever-increasing competition, and the ease of accessing reviews, mainly negative ones, given that an angry frustrated customer is more likely to write a review and post it for all other potential customers to see, rather than a happy customer who finished quickly and smoothly.

Second, the staff: organizations also tend to forget that waiting also affects its own staff, long queues are an unpleasant experience for both the customers and the organization, the staff are usually stressed in such situations, and this affects their productivity.

Third, the business: The business or the organization itself is undoubtedly the one what will lose the most, let’s see how in the coming section.


The Cost of Unorganized Queues

The inherent cost of waiting is a concept widely understood by process management, an easy example is one we see every day, the Barcode scanners, can you imagine how much time those have saved? If the staff had to enter each log or price manually, every successful business improvement manager has decided to invest in barcode scanners a long time ago, a decision that affected productivity immensely, and later in the day, became the standard practice,

Equally, if customers are walking away sickened and tired of long queues, or standing in line, wasted time, even if they wait this one time, they might decide to never return, then any smart and forward-thinking business that aims to improve will invest in a queuing system.


The Benefits of Organized Queues

There are numerous gains an organization can heap from having organized queues, most of which are straight forward, as described by Elliott N. Weiss, in a publication by Harvard Business Publishing, he stated that Improvements to the waiting-line process can result in better use of labor, equipment, and facilities, and a greater capability to provide customers with a level of service that matches the business objective. 3

Whereas it is hard to calculate the amounts of the losses resulting from non-returning customers, and the harm it does to organizations on the long run, but collectively, the concept and its details are clear to understand, it entails most of the elements that make a business successful:

Smart queueing system =

  1. Professional image for the organization and good reviews
  2. No walkaways
  3. Increased revenue
  4. Customer loyalty and satisfaction
  5. Returning customers
  6. Less need for customer support personnel
  7. Less stress on personnel

Peter Sherman, explains the relationship between service capacity and queuing cost in his article “Queueing Theory and Practice: A Source of Competitive Advantage”, stating that the cost of waiting in line is at a maximum when the organization is at minimal service capacity. As service capacity increases, there is a reduction in the number of customers in the line and in their wait times, which decreases queuing cost. The optimal total cost is found at the intersection between the service capacity and waiting line curves.5


dorak comes to blend the queueing science with technology to revolutionize how queueing systems by not only enhancing and improving the businesses operations but also appreciating customers time and health.


Want to Learn More?

Queueing is a huge topic, there are various books and articles that you can find online, by prestigious business schools and experts, and the details are generally hard to calculate, but the benefits of organizing it are clear, and the losses of ignoring its importance are even clearer. Organizations cannot afford to be in the rear end of the customer satisfaction marathon in this era, it could be the thin line between making or breaking it.


  1. Matthew Achak. Understanding Erlang and Queuing Theory.
  2. Mark M. Davis, Janelle Heineke. International Journal of Operations & Production Management. ISSN: 0144-3577.
  3. Elliott N. Weiss. Operations Management Reading: Managing Queues.
  4. Richard B. Chase and Nicholas J. Aquilano, Production and Operations Management, 1973, page 131.
  5. Peter J. Sherman, Queueing Theory and Practice: A Source of Competitive Advantage.

You may also like