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Queue abandonment

On the eve of a gaming console release or the drop of a new pair of Yeezys, crowds queue on side walks and browsers for the chance to be among the first to snag the goods.

The emergence of a queue indicates an impressive heightened tolerance for friction: enough people are willing to put grievances over supply chain scarcity (sometimes intentional) aside and wait for the good or service in anticipation of coming into contact with its purported value (often a mixture of social and practical).

As impressive as the formation of a queue is though, it also generates a new kind of vulnerability in the form of queue abandonment: getting into a line means you can leave the line, adding to the cart creates the option to abandon the cart, subscribers can unsubscribe.

There’s at least a few reasons for queue abandonment:

  1. Mismanaged expectations: the wait time is longer than what was communicated by an intolerable factor — the infamous 30-minute-5-minute wait.
  2. Reevaluation: the customer decides that their time is actually worth more than the value that the solution purports to offer.
  3. Other enticing options in the periphery: a suitable alternative becomes available.

When shipping work to create a change, mind the queue: communicate an accurate delivery window, reaffirm the impact you expect the work to have, and acknowledge the other work out there because you’re delivering to an ecosystem not a vacuum.



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William Liao

William Liao


Taiwanese American, daily blogger of ideas about impactful work in service of others, photographer (ephemera.photography)